Monday, December 27, 2010

A "Voice of God" moment

I have come to believe that God speaks to us all the time, and that people who are looking for affirmation of this will find it. Ron’s suicide was just the sort of bone-rattling chaos that made me seek this affirmation.

Once tuned in to the “divine communication” frequency, however, there’s a trick to its interpretation. Messages with that “special resonance” can sometimes conflict with one another. I experienced this over the recent holidays.

The first time was at a Christmas party for a bunch of insurance salesmen. (I know—yawn.) I went to support my husband, who is new to this field, but I didn’t despair—you just never know when a special gift might be sent your way. And because I was looking for one, I found it: in the form of a man with an open, friendly face, and a sweep of thinning gray hair. He made his way around our table, shaking hands and introducing himself. His name was Peter. Yes, he was an insurance salesman, and networking, so I assumed he’d move past me soon enough (there’s no insurance in my line of work whatsoever).

But what was that interesting accent? Yorkshire, he told me—and the conversation opened.

He asked me what I do. I was immediately drawn to him and hated to lose his favor so early; these guys are all about the money, as the evening’s award litany illustrated.

“I’m a writer.”

“What are you working on?” (I liked him even more for not asking, “Where can I buy your books?”)

I answered, “A memoir.”

“My mother wrote her memoirs when she turned 50,” Peter said, his face animated. “It was the best gift she ever could have given me, and her grandchildren.” He then tapped my arm with his index finger, to make sure that within this crowded room he had my full attention. “If you don’t think your life is worth recording, you aren’t taking your life seriously enough.”

He left me with that thought. Its positive message was enough to get me through several draining days of writing that challenged me to recall, in great detail, the final years of my first husband’s decaying life.

But by the time I finished writing, the day before Christmas Eve, I wasn’t in the best shape. My current self was mourning for my younger version, carrying on in those final days unaware of all she had already sacrificed, unaware of all that was still to come.

I had to call my mother about Christmas and worried that I wouldn’t be able to disguise my emotional fatigue—an actress I’m not. So when she asked me how I was doing, I answered truthfully. “I’m okay.”

“Just okay? What’s the matter?”

“I wrote myself into a bad place today while working on my memoir.” [I realize that in alternate universes, this might be a reason for a woman to place a call to her mother. You know, for comfort.]

Absolutely sure of the truth of her stance, she said, “That’s why you shouldn’t be writing a memoir. Always look forward, never look back.”

These words had resonance because I’ve heard them before. It is the motto of her life; her way of coping with a difficult childhood that came with its own bag of horrors.

Voice of God recap: You should be writing a memoir; you shouldn’t be writing a memoir. Each speaker bringing a message of which they are most sure. One a stranger, one the woman who raised me.

If one of them spoke with the voice of God, how do I tell which one? I have a few thoughts on that, which I’ll share in the next post, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Kathryn! I def. needed that particular reminder at this point in my life. So thank you!


Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks, Bob.

Lisa R. Tomarelli said...

Yikes. Are you in my world again? I'm preparing our next bible study for next month from Bill Hybels' book called "The Power of a Whisper" and it's about---you guessed it---hearing from God!

We both know better than to call our moms instead of our friends sometimes. ;)

I'm still cheerin' you on, my friend.

Kathryn Craft said...

Lisa: More affirmation that my search for meaning is working--I have the experience you describe all the time! One thing leading to another, all sorts of coordinated influences and themes in my life. So glad to be part of your world, and that you are part of mine!

Peter Pocklington said...

I think I know that guy. Another side of the story - inspired by my mothers story I wanted to capture my father's - believing his would be the story of love that was my mothers. As I interviewed him it became clear it was causing him pain to re-live and I aborted - though my mother then pieced together some things to give me a better perspective. "Moral" of story - God sometimes speaks through the pain of others as well as their happiness. Why else did Jesus endure mortality? IMO.


Kathryn Craft said...

Hey Peter, nice to hear from you! Did Dave tell you I now refer to you as "Uncle Peter"? We met only once but the impression you left was indelible.

The story you shared in your comment does offer up an interesting perspective—we are not all the same. I talk about that in my next post. How much emotional pain is "too much"? I think that barometer must be pretty personal.

I guess I choose to face life's painful experiences head-on because I'm looking for meaning, because I believe in my own resiliency (i.e., it won't hurt forever), and that in my experience, staring something down robs it of the power to control me.

Thanks so much for stopping by!