Saturday, October 03, 2020

55 Year Age Gap

 Guest post by Megan Achatz. Thanks to Heath for letting me borrow his blog to post this.

55 Year Age Gap


I was in a bad place, stuck if you will. It was just short of 2 ½ years since losing Grace and I was stuck in life, unable to move out of an automatic state of living, unable to reconcile the accident that took her life, unable to “move forward” and not sure if that was right, possible, or something I wanted.

Some time back a friend had pressed a manila envelope into my hand with only, “I think this will help you. I asked permission to give it to you.” as explanation. After reading the description it took 3 weeks to muster enough courage to open it and read the contents. Although the words freshly exposed some of the poorly bandaged wounds of my soul, there was a glimmer of hope. Maybe the author could help me find my way out of my “stuck-ness”.


That is how I found myself sitting in a well-worn recliner opposite a man and friend 55 years my senior.  “I don’t know what to do. I’m stuck and I read your testimony and it seems like you are doing much better than me at living with losing someone and I thought maybe you could help me.” tumbled out the incredibly ineloquent explanation for my visit through an already burning throat.


“You’re normal, Megan” Joe said. Then he started to tell me the story of how he’d lost his first wife in a house explosion very shortly after getting married and what happened in his life after. His depression, running from his pain, his attempt at outworking his pain, the physical symptoms that began to manifest as a result. At one point he doubled back and instead of giving a brief reference, he gave me a vivid, detailed, moment by moment description of the day of the accident and the horrific days until she passed as if he was there, reliving the pain again until we were both choking back sobs. His (current) wife, who I’d just noticed had taken a less comfortable dining room chair at the beginning of our talk so I could have the recliner, got up and brought him a glass of water and both of us tissues and paused before she gently took over the story until he could continue.


It had been 60 years since Joe’s first wife passed as the two of us sat there in that pause sharing our tears and pain. It was that moment I realized it’s ok if I still sob while telling the story of the day Grace left earth when I’m 89 years old. That Joe was right in his response to one of the questions I’d brokenheartedly squeaked out, “You don’t get over your loss, Megan. You move forward with it with God’s help. It becomes part of you and that’s ok.” I saw from his story that it’s ok to grieve and live simultaneously (rather than grieve and just exist.)


How I loved them during that pause. Joe cared enough for me to revisit the worst pain of his life to help deal with mine while his wife seamlessly translated how his story practically applied to my life and listened with no judgement as I finally said things out loud I’d been holding in for 2 ½ years. There was no need for the pretense of being alright during the visit. I was there because I needed help and that had been accepted without judgement or question.


Joe took the story back over and began the beautiful part that began with a diagnosis from a medical doctor who’d written only 7 words on his pad, “A smiling face but a broken heart.” The short of it is that Joe started reading the Bible, looking for answers and, in his words, “A short time later I gave my life to the Lord. I had never healed from the wound 25 years earlier…I buried it. But after 25 years, God exposed the hurt and when I gave it all to the Lord, I started to heal. Yes, I still have scars…but I can live with these scars.”


One of the hard questions I asked was if Joe had forgiven the man that (accidentally) caused the house explosion. I appreciated that he did not flippantly answer but took a moment before answering “Yes” and then “I had to.” In return his wife gently added that I needed to forgive the man I only reference as “the other driver” but did not put pressure on me to make any movement toward that end at that moment. To me that is true caring, to care enough to bring up the difficult and painful in the kindest way because you know ignoring it will keep your friend from peace.


The pain of loss was still there when I left that day but I had been un-stuck and gently set down a path to healing by real love, caring, and faith. Perhaps the most liberating realization was that I did not need to try to “get over” the loss of someone I loved. I didn’t have to leave Grace behind to live. She was a beautiful part of my life in person and will continue to be a part of it. Sometimes that means intense pain and sadness and plain old missing her so very badly but sometimes it means joy as I carry and share the memories of her.


That day I had also been set free but I didn’t know it yet. You see, after Grace’s accident I often had flashbacks. They could happen anytime. I can only describe them as being trapped in a room, unable to escape reliving memories of that night while being able to see reality but not being a part of it. I’d have enough of a vague sense of what was really going on around me to fake being ok from the outside while I went back to those moments and experienced them again; the sights, sounds, smells, even tastes, and touch sensations. I’d fight to get back to reality, be exhausted when I did, and, as they often happened at work, try to get ahold of my emotions to continue whatever I was doing before the flashback took over.


The November after the accident the flashbacks peaked when for nearly 3 weeks I spent most of the day either in that state or recovering from it. The next November wasn’t good either, although I’d learned some tricks to help get out faster since they’d been about a frequent occurrence for well over a year by then. On the last day of the next November, I realized in the 4+ months since I’d talked to Joe, I hadn’t had a flashback. I still had very vivid memories, they were still painful, but the element of being trapped in them was gone. I could get out; the relief was overwhelming.


These lines are from the last 2 paragraphs of Joe’s testimony, the papers that had been inside that manila envelope. He wrote, “…give your grief to Jesus, He is waiting to help you as he did me. With this testimony, if only one broken heart is healed, it will be well worth my telling of it.”


One man’s willingness to share his pain and healing with me changed my life and it seems a fitting tribute to both Joe’s memory and the goodness of God to tell this story despite my private personality. If it can help one person start healing or help them get “unstuck”, it is worth it. If you are not a person of faith in Jesus, there is still wisdom and hope to be taken from Joe (and his wife’s) life lessons and perhaps you can see a glimpse of what the love of the real Jesus looks like through their lives and words told here; He’s much better than many have made Him out to be. Have courage to keep going, there is healing for your broken heart. I’m not “there” yet, wherever "there" is, but after that day, I know there is hope.


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Not the Same Earth

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Why do I do it?

Recently, I was asked, in front of a group of people I was presenting to, a question that I wasn't prepared to answer. They asked me " Why do you do it?" The question referred to my employment: doing a work I rarely see the end result of,  helping young people who are in tough situations, who have little gratitude, while I am paid a comparably low wage. My answer was jumbled with some "ums" , "i like helping people" and a joke thrown in because, at the time I really couldn't think of a comprehensive idea of why I do do it. Afterwards, It thought that I really should know why I do the work I do.

There is a chance that even after I think this idea through and type it out I still won't truly know the answer, but I will know what one answer might be.

Why do I do it?

Ninety-seven percent of the time while reading comics or watching movies, television shows, reading history (or a version of it) I have been drawn to the hero and have been able to see myself in their place, making the choices they make ( will admit there is the three percentage of times where I do identify with the villain-that might be another blog). But why do I identify with the hero?

When I was not quite yet born my mother had an encounter with God, she believed in Jesus Christ and got saved (as the vernacular was in the late seventies and early eighties). Getting saved was important to her and my dad later on. She was saved from going to hell, saved from drinking, saved from smoking, and saved from living a life with low moral standards. Based on her words and my observations growing up, it was important for her that those she cared for got saved as well. I think this idea became ingrained in my personality, to save the people I care about.

Very early on I committed to follow Jesus Christ myself, pursued getting to know what that meant and how to live it out. This meant I needed to read about Christianity. I read everything C.S. Lewis had written, some of it twice and committed to reading or listening to the Bible, as part of my lifestyle. What I found was that Jesus came to find the people who were lost and to save them. Sometimes he saved them from other people, mostly he saved them from sickness and disease, and ultimately through dying and coming back to life saved their spirits from ultimate death. A commitment to follow Jesus Christ and become like him logically followed, in my mind, that I needed to do the same thing.
As a teen I was fairly obsessed with Star Wars, Star Trek, Comic Books, Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones. The theme in these stories is, for the most part, saving people, races, planets, and friends. I knew I wanted to be saving people.
A man must know his destiny… if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder… if he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take, if he has the guts, he will take it.” 
― George S. Patton Jr.
Sometimes this saving came in ways that are not conventional, not sanctioned by society, or didn't even resemble the act of saving. But the theme was always helping those who needed help, even at the expense of self (see the example of Jesus Christ). 

The driving force behind what I do, in my work with youth and disadvantaged people is my connection to Jesus Christ. I endeavor to do everything out of love, sometimes my love, sometimes the love of God; sometimes it is a mix of both. The bible tells us that greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for a friend. I believe this and feel compelled to live my life to help others. 

I see this world as a beautiful connection of spirits, souls, and bodies. Some people have been disconnected from this beautiful connection. By helping people become their best and connecting them with others and with God, the world is as it should be. When this doesn't happen I feel pain, sorrow, and it fuels me to work harder than I think I can and do more than is required of me.

Based I what I know of God and have read, I have faith that what I am doing matters. Faith that everything, no matter how small, makes a difference. Faith that good always triumphs over evil. Faith that I am fulfilling my purpose and that God is taking care of me in that place. I do not always, or even often, see the positive outcomes, but I believe they are happening. I do not always have a perfect sense of how to best help people, but when I am afraid I become courageous. I think that courage is fear hanging on a minute longer. That is how the world is impacted, that is how people are saved, that is how I help. It is why I do it.

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
-Christopher Reeve

Living Life

“Lead me, follow me, or get the hell out of my way.” 
― George S. Patton 

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Gospel without the Bible?

This is a conversation a couple young people had with me today. They are 20 and 22 have not been raised in church and have not read the Bible.

"Man Satan doesn't want us to know. These clothes, cars, these buildings are are here to take our minds off the spiritual. It's crazy."

"Real talk, we were so close to god, right there. That's why Satan came and tricked Eve. F***d us all up."

"Yes, all this gas, nuclear power, radiation; they are all wearing off the god that is in us. We are all made of God, in the spirit. 100 percent."

"These wires, buildings, the billionaires, they are all keeping us disconnected from god."

"Yes, that's why Jesus went to the cross."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

Just a typical post from the people that I encounter at work. Makes me think.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

YOLO is a Lie

I miss Mercy. 
Mercy was our sheep.
A very annoying loud ball of wool that ate too much and made the pasture muddy. She lived and died. She isn't going to live again. She lived and seemed to know it was one time around for her. She ate as much as she could, did what she wanted, when she wanted.

The truth is every single one of us is going to continue to live. After we are buried, a time will come when we will live again.

What we do here matters. It doesn't only matter here it matters in the here after. The place that is existing after here. No one can truly tell you how much it matters; how the little things matter, how they will be rewarded or punished or what type of effect they will have on the here after. But they matter know and they matter later.

Everyone that believes in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ understands that there is life after this life. It matters how you treat yourself, how you treat others, and what you do. It even matters what you think. Isn't it too much to keep track of what we do, what we think, how we react?

It reminds me of that song from Sunday school. "Trust and Obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey." 
One thing is for sure (to a certain extent at least, but to what extent I am unsure of), we can trust Jesus and forget about the rest. If we believe in him we shall never die. 

I think that means more than we think it means sometimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dirty Mind or Dirty Hands

Dirty Mind or Dirty Hands

Time and again, some other time or this time
I browse people's writings
What they've typed online
What they put out for others to see
If not I would assume they
Would put it on paper
Or keep it on their laptop
Or keep it on their tablet
Or keep it on their phone.

Recently I read some writings of an
Interpretation, what someone 
Thought that they thought was the thought
Behind what the Bible tells us about living 
Tells us about being a person believing in
God,Christ, in more than what we see.
What I noticed was this.
There were words
Ideas and illustrations
Recommending thoughts, lifestyles, and modes of life.

Sometimes and other times this time specifically
I thought of other people's writings
What they put for others to see
If not thought I actually said
Said it out loud in a room alone
Keep it on your laptop
Keep it on your tablet
Keep it on your phone.

Certainly, I agree with writing for public
Relating, what thoughts
May be inside, came inside, are put outside
Dealing with the Bible and life and Christ and the ghost
Inside of me and some others, that we can't see.
What I noticed was this.
There were these writings
Unrelateable and unestablished
With much admiration
Recommendations from the public readers, followers.

Kierkegaard wrote this
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
The thing is this, it must be lived.
Lived on the street, lived in the woods, lived inside, lived outside.
Not on your laptop
Not on your tablet
Not on your phone.