I can't believe this came out of my keyboard! If that sounds proud, it's actually not. It's amazement. (Ok, maybe I'm just a little bit proud. (Grin))
I am at peace in a way that I have not been for many weeks. I have been thinking about Vicki a lot again, but in a different way. I am remembering things she said and taught me, and they are becoming MORE alive for me. For several weeks I was bothered because some people seemed uncomfortable talking about the good things in her life. They didn't want to paint a larger¦than-life picture of her. To me this seemed almost like focusing on her faults. I think one reason this was hard for me to handle was that when my grandmother was dying we looked on it as something almost sacred. She was being made perfect, complete. Her love for us was what would live on and sustain us, not any of her faults.
I know that Vicki had faults, but I also know that those have been washed away by the blood of Christ. Looking at her faults only made the feeling of incompleteness stronger. It made things seem that much more unfair. This is the problem I have with salvation by works: There is never enough TIME to right all our wrongs. We can ask forgiveness for the things we understand are wrong, and we can follow Christ to the best of our ability, but His grace is the only guarantee we can ever have for our salvation.
Focusing on the faults in other people's lives encourages pride and bitterness. It's too easy to take the attitude that either I am glad _I_ don't have that problem or I am going to work so that I don't have those faults. Some of the second attitude is good to an extent, but only to an extent. If it goes too far, one is back to working for the salvation Jesus paid the price to give us.
Focusing on Vicki's good points helps me to release her and to grow in my own walk with Christ. Most important, I know that she stood with her soul on the grace and mercy of Jesus. Beyond that, she taught me how to love and trust, how to hear God speaking (literally), and how to "consider the source" and focus on what is from God. One of Vicki's favorite verses was James 1:17: "Every good endowment and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (RSV) She used to say, "All that is good is from God; everything else is Garbanzo beans. When some of us on GEnie were arguing with a man about the requirements for salvation, She listed the things she saw in his posts with the question, "Is his ---- good?" She asked me that question several other times, and eventually she just had to say, "Consider the source.")
Nathan said once that his faith was pretty black-and-white to him. I half envied him. Not really envied. I wanted that clarity in my own faith. I get a glimpse now. As I learn to consider the source, my faith is becoming more black-and-white, in the places it needs to be black-and-white. Nathan's been at this a little longer than I have, and while people are not and should never be considered adequate measures of our faith, watching him has shown me that growth takes time; building a strong faith and what Twila Paris calls "a love that will always endure ... that is simple and pure" takes time. I am a little bit closer tonight.
For a couple of months I have been afraid to let anyone in to see what's going on in me for two reasons. One is I thought they probably had their own loads to carry and didn't need mine added to those things. The other is I was afraid they either wouldn't really want to know or would disappear just when my trust was built. I didn't want to acknowledge the last two very much. No way, I wasn't afraid anyone would leave me! That was ridiculous! The big news for me was the only way to rebuild something that has been damaged is to just do it, whatever the risks are. For me, this means I have to trust, whether I get let down or not. And I am willing to trust again now.