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On the Corner

BY ROBERT DOCTER – 

Negative thoughts keep echoing in my mind. “How could this happen?” Where is God when we needed him?” “Is it even safe to fly?” I shake my head in denial. “This can’t be happening!” I tell myself–“things are not good. They’re bad!” I make judgments and create my own devil and give him a name. No, peace of mind is not mine.

My feelings shuttle from anger to rage to loss to sadness to grief spiraling up and down the spectrum of my affective range. I seek a sense of solace. I look on the smiling face of my grandson and feel warmth. My eyes return to the images that invade our home and see a child amidst the rubble whose dirt covered face is washed only with her own tears. My tears well as my rage stifles a sob. I want some comfort, but my emotions fail to bring me peace.

I want to do something. What can I do? The helplessness adds to my total sense of frustration. I go on my run and force my thoughts toward the more mundane. When I return, what I fled envelops me once again. I check out the blood banks. Can I give? They tell me yes. Do I schedule an appointment? Not yet! Procrastination wins again. My behavior brings no peace.

Where can I find peace?

Not in my mind. Not with my feelings. Not in my behavior.

It was in prayer that I confessed my failings to God and discovered that he loved me anyway. I was able to view my struggling journey in life–to recognize the hurts and disappointments–to experience the epic confusion–to feel the rough cuts of life’s existence–and to accept the reality that we live in an imperfect world populated by imperfect people and that I am one of them.

Oh, the joy of realizing I don’t have to force myself to match the perfect ideal set forth by God. I’m far from perfect, and yet, I’m still okay with God. What I must do is maintain a connection. For it is in this connection that I recognize those areas of my life to examine and work on. He loves me, however, in spite of me.

I can’t begin to understand why sudden, unexplained death comes to some and not to others. I can’t explain it anymore than I can explain why my peaceful, loving, caring, thinking and feeling takes place somewhere in the depth of my soul.

Lew Smedes remarkable little book How Can It Be Alright When Everything Is All Wrong? helps us discover hope through the gift of grace. He says grace is shorthand for everything God is. It comes in the form of Jesus Christ. I recognize that knowing about him is best achieved in having a relationship with him. Smedes provides three images of grace. It is pardon–forgiveness–knowing that everything is okay with me and God even though things fall apart around us. It is power to help us become better people tomorrow than we were today. It is promise that gives us the confidence to live now as if things are going to be alright tomorrow.

So there you have my journey through our days of trial–a journey to peace through pardon–a journey resulting in the discovery of power in a grace-filled relationship–a journey of promise and confidence in a just and loving God.

I must confess–I’d still like to participate in finding the ones who perpetrated this act–but my time might be better spent in figuring out why anyone would hate us so much as to unleash this torrent of terror on unsuspecting and innocent people.

Hmm–love and justice. Are they the same word?

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