Monday, January 18, 2010

Showing Up

I rented "The Soloist" the other night On-Demand. First of all, what an amazing movie! I love watching movies based on true events and I did a little researching of my own and came to realize that the movie was very accurate. Mr. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers is a paranoid schizophrenic living on the streets of Los Angeles. Mr. Steven Lopez is a columnist for the LA Times who happens to come across Nathaniel playing the violin in the park. Always looking for a good story, Steve is intrigued by Mr. Ayers who obviously is homeless and a virtuoso all at the same time. Steve finds out that Nathaniel studied at The Julliard School in 1970 but dropped out. Mr. Lopez not only begins a column on Nathaniel but he also begins a friendship with him as well. A friendship that he later will refer to as

"the most meaningful friendship of my life, the one that I've learned the most from..."

Lopez tries to help Ayers. He gives him new instruments to play. music lessons and tries to get him to live in an apartment instead of the streets. But Mr. Ayers doesn't want to change. Unfortunately his illness keeps him from living a normal life and when his life as he knew it was compromised, he couldn't handle it. In the movie Nathaniel becomes physically violent with Steve at times and flies off the handle with fits of rage. Lopez receives some very good advice that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. His colleague who happens to be his ex-wife says to him,

"You can't heal Nathaniel, just be his friend and show up!"

There were many references to grace in the movie. I couldn't help but be saddened and emotionally drained as I watched the homeless people living in the streets. So many of them are mentally-ill. In researching the real-life Nathaniel I found out that he went through electric-shock therapy at a young age and refuses any type of medication now.

Sometimes there are people in my life who I feel need to be "healed". It could be a number of different things that I think they need delivered from but nonetheless they need to be changed in my opinion. And when the chips are down and everything is all out on the table and all parties have heard my opinions and know what I believe and why I believe it, sometimes I think God is calling me to,

" a friend and show up!"

because I am not going to heal anyone.

There was only one healer and his name is Jesus Christ.

As a follower of Christ I am called to love the loveless.

Show hope to the hopeless.

Be a friend to the friendless.

Be there when somebody needs you, even if you know that you're not going to "change" or "heal" them.

In other words,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Presence in the Panic

The summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school I decided to sign up for the diving team. My cousin, Andrea, who was more like a sister urged me to join her in this new venture. Always loving gymnastics and the Summer Olympics I agreed to give it a whirl and while most of our friends were snoozing we would wake up early every weekday morning in the chilly Michigan air and practice up at our local pool with one of the swimming coaches. Beginning a sport at the age of sixteen is definitely a challenge but with great effort I got through the season and surprisingly learned all of the different dives that were required to earn a varsity letter. Some dives were a little nerve-wracking but I found it fun and rewarding. The following year,when I became a senior, is when everything changed.

We started practice in August and quite a few months had passed since I stepped foot on the board so getting back into the groove was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. But I was determined and muddled through for about a month.

And then one late, dark September night the phone rang and from the other end came horrible news. My cousin, Jason, had been driving home from work and ran off the road right into a tree, totaling his car he had to be pulled out by the jaws of life. He was on life-support but brain dead and his dad told us that he was going to pull the plug. Jason passed away leaving behind two siblings, both brothers, one his twin. We went to a heart-wrenching funeral and buried my sixteen year old cousin. This horrific event triggered a fear inside of me that I had never experienced prior.

Every time I would get up on the diving board to do practically any of the eleven different dives that I practiced, all I could see in my mind was my forehead banking off of the hard board. I pictured blood pouring out of me and could actually see myself floating in the water. Panic and fear would rip through my whole being. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest and my stomach had butterflies fluttering around a million miles per minute. This was the first of many panic-attacks to come throughout my life.

Just the other day my mom asked me if she thinks that I could ever dive again. I told her that I could absolutely NOT!!! I would be so scared!! We talked about it and that very night I had a dream that I was a senior in high school and back at practice. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real. My coach was there and my friends. I even told Joe about it when I woke up.

The next evening my mom and I, Jonah and Ayla were having dinner out at our favorite restaurant and the head coach of the Swimming and Diving team happened to walk in with his wife. I hadn't seen him for a number of years. I went over to him and said hello and told him about my crazy dream.

With Christmas this past month my anxiety level has been through the roof to a new place that I didn't even know existed.

Furthermore, I think God is trying to convey something to me. He has helped me to recollect the very first time I felt out of control and washed over with fear and He is reminding me that He was right there with me holding my hand just as He is right now. He hasn't let go and He won't! When I am out of control, He is in control. I don't believe that He allowed and allows me to suffer through this without a purpose. Maybe I will always struggle with this anxiety and panic.

But I won't live through it alone and helpless.

I have an ever-present, omnipotent, all-knowing, all-loving, never-turning, life-breathing, mercy-showing, , unfailing, tear-washing, always restoring, ever-faithful in His redeeming GOD at my side!!!!

Psalm 91:1&2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."