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dissonance |ˈdisənəns|: a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.That's it really. It's what I do. I create it on purpose as a clinician--a counselor. It is what makes people wake to reality and see how they contribute to their own chaos. It becomes a cathartic and challenging experience well suited for change. I create it accidentally as a husband, friend, son, brother, and believer. I AM: 32 years old; a counselor; a husband to a beautiful woman; a believer in The Way; and most of the time clueless to my own dissonance that I create.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Live is Christ...

I see pain daily. Suffering is the defining theme of the woven narratives that I sit and encounter.  Children that have been raped, neglected, and abused; women who have been taught that they have no value or worth; men who are stuck in cycles of shame and anger—this is the brokenness that I endure throughout each day.  I had to learn to create some measure of distance from their stories to be able to be the aide that I have trained to be for them; however, the truth is often I suffer with them.  Those stories often haunt my waking day—images of the gruesome discovery of a suicide victim are there; women who have been violated; children orphaned both emotionally and physically.  I suffer.I am a man who loves fun and humor; however, this calling is not one for the faint hearted.  It calls me to a measure of shared sorrow.  It challenges me into those questions that have few satisfactory answers.  Why? How could God allow this to happen?  How can God be love when He seems indifferent to all this pain?  The truth is simple.  My job brings me closer to the One who is most “acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows.”  Somehow in our suffering we are united with Christ in His.  Paul seems to hit this point most clearly stating that “we rejoice in our sufferings” because in them we find the honing of our nature to be more in the likeness of Christ [my paraphrase].  Our suffering produces His character in us.  I do not mean to espouse the falseness in seeking martyrdom but rather not to shy from our call to suffer and cry out in the Spirit for God’s saving intervention. 
This is what distinguishes our suffering from those without the hope of Christ.  We have the faithful One to cry out to for help.  The Psalms epitomize this distinction.  They invite us into this back and forth of despair and hopefulness.  It gives voice to our struggle through our state of the Kingdom—“already but not yet.”   We cry out that “darkness is my only companion” and then turn to exclaim “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, for ever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”
Our faith also gives us a renewed perspective.  We see beyond the thin veil of our lives.  We see into our future resurrection—our rebirth.  Paul writes that we are “co-heirs with Christ; provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”  Suffering leads us to this hope in our glorification.  We strive against death but yearn for its release from the burden of a life that surrounds us with suffering.  I love Andrew Peterson’s exposition of this very tension.  He writes
            How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

You are holiness and grace
You are fury and rest
You are anger and love
You curse and you bless
You are mighty and weak
You are silence and song
You are plain as the day,
But you have hidden your face--
For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning
The storm is past and rest is beckoning
Mighty God, how I fear you
How I long to be near you, O Lord

How long until the burden is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?
And I know that I don't know what I'm asking
But I long to look you full in the face
I am ready for the reckoning

So we yearn in our suffering.  We hope in our suffering.  And I will count my suffering as life in Christ sharing his sufferings.