.................................................................................................................

"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wrestling


So the story of how this song came about is a little different,

Yet, really, very much the same.

It was a day like any other college day . . .

Any other college day approaching finals week.

I was working on a movie script as a final project for one of my classes.

The main character needed to go meet a kindergarten teacher

(So that the two could fall in love by the end of the movie, of course)

And, as the main character did not have any relatives in kindergarten,

I needed a reason for a friend to ask the main character to go pick up her daughter from school,

And not just any reason, but a quick, random text in the middle of the day type reason.

And now, the insight into the way my brain works.

(I can hear all my friends saying, "Mary, you're such a happy person.  Why do you write such depressing songs?"  Well, this is how it happens.)

I decided that the mother must have another child,

A little baby boy,

Who was dying of heart failure.

(Because that's the most obvious reason a mom would all of a sudden need a babysitter, right?)

So the main character picked up the little girl from school

(Meeting the kindergarten teacher, of course)

Then watched her for a few hours,

During which the little girl,

Who had just been singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" in school that day,

(See the corners I write myself into?)

Asked if her baby brother was really in God's hands,

If God really loved her brother.

And so I tried my best to write out a theological explanation of suffering that the main character could give to the six-year-old,

But, once I finished, I found that my heart was still trying to understand,

That, even though I might have at least a basic framework for understanding suffering theologically,

It was still painful emotionally.

I remember sitting there, staring at the computer screen, thinking, "God, don't You love them?"

(Which seems a little out of character for me.  As much as I love to think about God's Love, I'm not a "Smile, Jesus loves you" kind of person.  The way I understand the Love of God is far too deep and nuanced for those kind of cliches - and definitely nuanced enough for some theological explanation of suffering.  But that's what I was feeling.)

So I found myself wrestling with God,

Knowing that He is Good and His ways are perfect,

Yet feeling that something was wrong and life shouldn't be like this.

And it shouldn't.

Death is not natural.

It's a result of sin and, as such, is not part of what we were created to be.

And so it hurts.

And it hurts in a way that can't be just glossed over by those pat answers people like to give at funerals.

I was just thinking today that Jesus wept, too -

That there is a place for this -

That all the knowledge of and love for God we could ever have isn't necessarily going to take away our pain.

Sometimes, theology has brought emotional healing,

But, usually, emotions must be wrestled with and thought through,

Like Jacob going to meet his brother,

Terrified of what may come.

And God met him there.

And his wounds?

(I think I heard a story somewhere that he limped for the rest of his life)

They were grace.

So, a couple of days letter, I poured that brief time of wrestling into a song.


Wrestling
by Mary Schieferstein
©2014 Mary Schieferstein

A baby's dying,
And beside him sits a mother's broken heart,
A pair of empty eyes staring at the stars,
Mindless fingers stroking his arm.

The sound of crying -
Tears rolling down her sunken cheeks,
Mouth gaping as she struggles to breathe,
Half-formed questions left hanging.

And, O, my God, don't You love the people staring straight at death?
O, my God, don't You love the babies who will never be children?
God, I know You have Your reasons,
But I'm sick of easy answers
That pile Band-Aids on the deep wounds,
And sometimes pain cannot be cured
By any magnitude of truth,
So we're left wrestling like Jacob,
Holding on until You bless us,
And time may heal, but it will never remove.

A sister's reaching,
Her touch cut off by solid glass,
Her heart held out in her empty hand,
Her fingerprints marking the impasse.

The sound of yelling -
A father's head makes contact with the wall,
His angry fist asking if You care at all,
His face twisted by hope's apparent downfall.

And, O, my God, don't You love the people staring straight at death?
O, my God, don't You love the babies who will never be children?
God, I know You have Your reasons,
But I'm sick of easy answers
That pile Band-Aids on the deep wounds,
And sometimes pain cannot be cured
By any magnitude of truth,
So we're left wrestling like Jacob,
Holding on until You bless us,
And time may heal, but it will never remove.

And, oh, I know some things aren't meant to be,
And, oh, I know we're not the only ones who weep,
But, sometimes, we cursed just need to grieve
Over the loss of Eden,
Result of our own conceited
Seeking to dethrone
Our one and only hope,
As though who You are isn't who You ought to be,
As though it'd be better if we defined what we believe.

And, O, my God, I know that Your Love never left.
And, O, my God, I know that You have something greater planned,
But, God, it's just so hard to understand,
So I won't take the easy answers
That pile Band-Aids on the deep wounds,
'Cause sometimes pain cannot be cured
By any magnitude of truth,
And so we'll wrestle like Jacob,
Holding on until You bless us,
And it's the scars of Grace that time cannot remove.



4 comments:

CynthiaJSwenson said...

I listened to the song twice, not getting a vision of a sick American baby, but instead the thousands & thousands of starving, deathly ill third world babies. (I think it was the "hollow cheeks" that gave me the idea of poverty.)And of course you are right Mary, there will never be easy answers for all the suffering in the world. I was also reminded about the "Lamb in heaven, looking as if it had been slain". (Revelation?) I heard a song one time at church about scars in heaven, (only one time & I've looked & looked for that song ever since!)Anyway, the theme of that song was that scars are a sign of victory in heaven & only give glory to God. So glad to find this post & story of your song. I really think it's a beautiful song! Good job Mary! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Isaac Adrume said...

You are such a blessing Mary! Am stunned to read the story your song and thank God for you!
"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (Ephesians 1:16, 17 ESV)

Mary said...

Thank you so much, Cynthia! I am always so grateful for your encouragement! It's so interesting to hear your interpretation of the song, too! I love how art that begins one way can develop so many different meanings based on the listener's perspective. And you are so right - He gets all the Glory! I think I would really love to hear that song, too - it's too bad you've never been able to find it. Thank you so much, friend! Love and prayers for you, as well!

Mary said...

You are a blessing to me, Isaac! Thank you for your encouragement and for your prayers! I am so grateful for people like you who help me push past my fears and make music. Thank you so much.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...