My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, I will go back to my husband as at first, for I was better off than now." Hosea 2:7

If you're not a student of the bible, Hosea may be a difficult book to start with... but it's an incredible way to gain perspective on our lack of faithfulness. I don't necessary mean literal infidelity, although that might be the case. Hosea uses the example of an unfaithful wife to describe Israel's lack of faith and separation from God.

My focus today, though, on this verse, isn't so much on infidelity as it is on going back to Plan A. Or... the grass wasn't as green as I thought it would be on the other side.

How many times have you gotten what you thought you wanted in life and then found out that it wasn't enough? Or that it wasn't as good as you thought it would be?

I twittered last night about DJ AM being found dead in New York. I got a few responses like, "who's he? who cares?". Well. God cares, for one. And I care because it's yet one more person who seemingly had it all... fame, fortune, future... whose life ended because he was self-medicating to take himself away from what most of us would think on the surface is a great life.

Anna Nicole. Heath Ledger. Michael Jackson. and on and on and on... the list of people who have things that most of us can't even imagine... who are able to go anywhere in the world... who have talent (ok, maybe Anna Nicole didn't have talent, but she had the ability to market herself)... who have no financial worries (seemingly)... but who need drugs to get them through the day... to help them sleep at night... to wake them up in the morning... How? How can those people who have it all... be so empty?

Maybe having it all isn't all it's cracked up to be? Or maybe... there's more satisfaction to be found in sticking with the original plan. The original covenant. Your first love - both spiritually in loving the Lord and seeking Him first - and in honoring your commitments to the people here on earth.

The lady mentioned in the verse above is named Gomer. She was a harlot. I'm not making accusations or slandering the woman... the bible tells us that she was a harlot. And Hosea sought to redeem her... to validate her... to make her respectable. And for awhile she was respectable... she gave him children... and we can only assume that she was a decent wife... but then she decided to check out the greener grass on the other side of the fence. She went back to her true nature... being a harlot. Until it wasn't working out for her like she wanted and then she wanted to go back to Hosea...

There is a phenomenon I refer to as "prison religion"... and by that, I mean someone who has lived without boundaries and with complete hedonism and disregard for their commitments and obligations and then ONCE THEY GET INTO TROUBLE want to go back to God... get it all straightened out... "I've changed." And because they now have this new found righteousness, they want to be able to avoid the consequences of their previous actions. Sometimes, the people in their lives are so relieved that they have found their way back to the straight and narrow that they show them mercy and forgiveness and don't hold them accountable for the hell they raised while they were wandering in the wilderness.

The problem with prison religion is that it's not a true repentance and change of perspective. It's a survival tactic to avoid punishment. I'm an expert on prison religion, having spent the last 24 years of my life dealing with an alcoholic who is only interested in doing the right thing when he can no longer get away with doing the wrong thing. Only when the law is after him... or he gets sick... or out of work... broke... downtrodden... He has the misfortune of only looking up when he gets so far deep in mud that it's not possible to sink any further down.

And the problem with THAT... is that you never really heal, you never really grow, you continue to complete the same cycles over and over again. And then you die.

Over the past year I've taken some radical stands about things. I've done some difficult things. I've made some difficult choices and I've sought a real relationship with my first love. Not my first husband, mind you (see previous paragraphs on prison religion). But the God who loved me from before I was born. The one who saw my body as it was formed in my mothers womb and who knew what all my days would be before any came to be. That first love.

I ended my first marriage - or rather I should say HE ended our first marriage when I finally took a stand and said, "You can't live like this any more and be married to me". It's me or the alcohol, buddy. It's your wife and three kids or the three day benders you keep going on. It's your family or the paychecks you squander trying to "get away from it all". It's the woman you committed to for better or worse or the drugs that make you feel better, then worse. And so he packed up and left. He made his choice. There was no looking back. Some people take forever to end a marriage... they break up, get back together, leave, come back. There was none of that. It was a miserable few years leading up to that point but when I drew a line in the sand... he was out.

From that point on I began searching for victim number two. I mean... my future ex-husband. I mean... a soulmate... the ultimate husband who would never leave me nor forsake me. Oh.Wait... that was God who said He'd never leave me nor forsake me. well, anyways. I was searching. And when I didn't find Mr. Right, I settled for Mr. Right Now. I allowed myself to be compromised in order to not be alone. And then I had this epiphany that if I had a great body, I'd find a great guy. And... I learned that the better you look, the more they come looking.

But you know... I still haven't found... what I'm looking for. Finally a man came along who wanted to spoil me (check!) and take me on fabulous trips (check!) and who seemed to have money (check! then uncheck!) and who could allow me to live in a great house (check!) and take me out to fabulous dinners (check!) and who wanted to woo me... and...

Here's the problem. Well, there were a couple of problems. I never asked God if this was the right relationship for me. As a matter of fact... I knew from early on that he was NOWHERE NEAR the kind of spiritual head of household who would lead me back to my first love - God. I knew that his situational ethics would mean a lifetime of compromise for me. I knew that he didn't believe in compassion (I was not allowed to use that word) or unconditional love (also, not allowed to use it) or in the authority of God's word (many hours of debate over this - and Austin would say, "YOU'RE FIGHTING ABOUT GOD!")

Or even... the very foundation of who I was, once you took away the chasing after a dream Cinderella - underneath it all was a woman who deeply loves the Lord and knows that she is set aside for a great purpose in Him... and yet... I married a man who believed that according to his religion, I was not even saved - that I was going to hell when I died.

How could he ever respect ME... if he saw me as someone who was going to hell ANYWAY??? And how. Could a man who loved me. Know that I was going to hell and not do everything in his power not to save me. ???

And I stayed. And I suffered. And I grieved the loss of relationship because... well, ultimately... a relationship that's built on physical beauty will fade... and a relationship that doesn't include compassion is empty... and a marriage without unconditional love is temporary at best. I started grieving the loss of my marriage almost as soon as it began because I knew... And I knew... I knew that it was a slippery slope with just a matter of time before I fell off.

Guess who was there to catch me? My first love. Guess who cleaned off the mud and dust and tears and blood and put bandaids on all the hurts... and wait... He didn't just clean me up... He returned me to a place of favor with Him. He allowed my life to be filled with joy. He redeemed me.

Maybe we'll talk a little bit more about Hosea and Gomer in the next few days. Maybe we'll talk some more about the relationship between God and Israel in the next few days too. In the meantime... I want you to think about what you're chasing after... and whether or not it is truly more important than your first love.

There was a lady in my bible study class Wednesday night who was disillusioned because of the loss of her marriage. She had done everything right... and still, he left her. She had been faithful. He had not. She feels abandoned and destroyed and like her life is over. She feels like she'll never find love again. I took out my business card and wrote the following verses on the back... and I'll close with them... for they are the words that keep me hanging on.

Isaiah 54:5-7 (New International Version)
5 For your Maker is your husband—

the LORD Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
6 The LORD will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected," says your God.
7 "For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with deep compassion I will bring you back.


Anonymous said...

I wish you had had this particular post to read back when we met at Monkey Joe's for Hayden's birthday party ~ you were telling me all about Michael and how he *probably* wasn't right for you ~ but could *possibly* provide some financial stability for you and Austin for a few years. I hoped then that you wouldn't lose yourself in the process. I'm glad to know that you have found yourself again. :)

lisabug said...

There are so many people looking for that thing that will make them happy-whether they work for that promotion at work or shop for it or by any other means. So many keep looking but the One thing they need is right there beside them-God. It is hard to see so many in this world looking for true happiness by buying stuff or trying to be famous or by trying drugs. You hit this one on the head here. Love you. Lisa