Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Zacchaeus

Sidenote: The videos regarding September 11 in the previous post have been pretty popular, judging from the number of times they have been viewed. I want all to know that they are free to do what they wish with them (as is true of all I place in this blog).

Now for today's post.

Sometimes when folks ask how I am, I answer: "Old and fat!"

It's not all that true. I'm a little over weight, I weigh 230 pounds, but that isn't too bad for someone five foot 11 inches. And though I'm 50, that isn't really all that old (except to the middle schoolers I teach).

That's the flippant answer. The truth is today has been one of ups and downs. It was the first day of school at our middle school and it went so well! I think I haven't been this happy and excited since I first became a teacher. There was an assembly in which we presented the history of the events of 9/11 and the Peace Garden, and things went so well!

But I am set in my ways a little bit and it is difficult to always be patient and loving. True confessions here:

My father in law has been here about a week and he is... hmmmmm... what's a tactful way to put it?... ah yes, ornery.

The MRIs have shown some brain damage and slight shrinkage from all his drinking, and I try to keep that in mind. (But he has always been domineering.) When he gets verbally abusive to Brenda or even to his own wife, I try, as gently as possible, to defuse the situation.

But he has been
talking consistently for about a week now how it was drugs from the surgery which caused his delirium tremons and not alchohol withdrawal. He tries to get me to agree and I have, until this afternoon, successfully dodged being pigeon-holed into his set of rationalizations.

Today I told him that his trying to intimidate me wasn't working and that I knew what was real, what was true, and no matter how much he ranted, I wasn't going to change my opinion of what I believe his doctors are trying to tell him.

It's uncomfortable to be called a fool and nuts in my home by my guest, but that does not mean I shouldn't continue to show him love and compassion.

I've been thinking about him quite a bit lately. In fact I have been doing a lot of praying about it, which helps.

And two things seem clear to me (caution, abrupt mental tangent ahead):

1. Zacchaeus was a jerk.
2. Zacchaeus was loved by Jesus.

This tiny little man (a trait shared by my father in law) loved money (another shared trait) and apparently was an important wealthy tax collector (who didn't mind a little shady accounting as the middle man between Jericho and Rome).

Though his neighbors and fellow jews hated him, Jesus loved him.

Jesus was like that.

Jesus loved all sorts of people. I don't know any prostitutes, but Jesus did. In fact Jesus didn't spend a lot of time with the sorts of people I surround myself with, such as people of faith, upstanding citizens, politicians and police officers and fire chiefs. Jesus spent His time with people other folks found difficult to be near.

It is not to my credit that I get frustrated by his, uh, lack of accuracy in the bathroom. And it is definately not to my credit that I allow an edge to my voice when tell him that I am not in agreement with all of his positions on issues.

While writing this post I have gone for two walks, one alone, one with my son Isaac.

We walked by the burned out church, which is nearly gone now. Some people came by while we were looking at it (I was explaining parts of the structure and history of the building to him). They had questions about it, which I answered. Afterwards Isaac said he was glad I didn't say anything about who started the fire. I told him we don't need to tell everyone everything.



I sensed he is uncomfortable with our familial connection to that fire. I told him I think Jeremiah is sorry about what happened, and that we will always love him, no matter what.

There was a pensive silence.

I looked at him for a moment.

"I hope this is something you learn from my life, buddy. I will always love him no matter what he does. I will always love you. I may not always agree with what you or Jeremiah do, but I will always love you.

"That goes for Grampa too.
"

17 comments:

Faith said...

There are certtain people that seem harder to love - I guess that's reason enough to try to love them more!

Great post!

jel said...

Thanks CS,
for sharing with us,

my thoughts and prayers are with you all!

God bless!

((((huggs))))

have a grand Day!

David said...

Good to see you back. It is hard to return to school even on a good day.

You do have more patience than I do. I could take only so much from a FIL. Yes I know it is a disease - I have helped too many throught it.

But you always find positives in the BIBLE to lead you through.

Old and fat - that is me.

Squirrel said...

My father is an alcoholic and just plain crazy and mean. Thanks for helping me with my feelings regarding him!

jollybeggar said...

"They had questions about it, which I answered. Afterwards Isaac said he was glad I didn't say anything about who started the fire. I told him we don't need to tell everyone everything."

there's a classic. we don't need to tell everyone everything.

someone said that knowledge is power- okay, i'm cool with that.

where the rub comes is when one has knowledge and yet recognizes that withholding this knowledge from another will actually protect the other from the burdens attached inextricably to that knowledge. in shielding another from an unnecessary burden, are we empowering the other or simply being over-protective?

discernment right?

the struggle for most of the people i know is that we have a really tough time being denied access to information that we know exists- even if it will bring pain to ourselves or others. we have this entitlement thing that nags at us until we finally gain that which was sought... and usually it is about as satisfying as popcorn for the parched.

i like that you recognized who some things are on a need-to-know basis. i think that the fuel for this discernment is grace and the fruit of it is freedom for yourselves and those withwhom you spoke from the scandal that is awakened with each retelling.

that you were able to share this experience with isaac, using it as a hyperlink to God, is one of the things that renders the whole 'old and fat' thing inconsequential.

bless you, man.

jollybeggar said...

"i like that you recognized WHO some things are on a need-to-know basis"???

HOW some things are- yada yada yada.

sorry, feeling a bit dyslexic today.

Jada's Gigi said...

It is good and right to offer unconditional love..to your sons, to your FIL...that is Christ. Keep in mind that while Christ loves everyone and spent time with publicans, taxpayers and prostitutes, He also changed them, the very fabric of their lives. they did not remain the sinful creatures He first encountered. Unconditional love is a part of that changing force...so is knowing when to say when...I'll be praying the Holy Spirit will guide you in knowing when enough is enough and when tough love is still unconditional love, praying that you may know Him....and your FIL may as well.

Jada's Gigi said...

Sorry, I don't mean to sound preachy or imply that you don't know Him...just praying you know Him more and are encouraged...

Bea said...

Here's how I found your blog tonight. I went to the 2996 site, trying to locate the name I had been given to write a tribute. Then I thought, I'd like to read other people's entries, but whose? So I just browsed and settled on a name, for no other reason than chance. But it wasn't chance. I love the direction your journal is going. I am a teacher too. I don't get into political debates. I refrain from ranting. I love Jesus. I will be back to read more. I am glad that I stopped by and saw a glimpse of your life. I've been seeking journals by teacher, and lo, I found one on the first try. I will probably mention your blog (with a link) in my journal when I have time to write another entry this week. My name is Bea.

Ame said...

Wow ... it always amazes me what our children "see." Great job, Dad ... hang in there ... loving such difficult people reminds us that WE ARE SO NOT GOD!!! And that is not a bad thing, either! Only God can love people like that the way He does. Only God.

David said...

Missing your presence in my life.

curious servant said...

Thank you, all of your, for your kind comments. I haven't much tiime to respond, but I want you to know i appreciate all of you.

Bea... your profile's link to "Wanderer" isn't working so I can't return the visit. Thank you for dropping by. As for linking here, that is kind of you. have the habit of always linking back when someone does that. Welcome to my weird little corner of the blogosphere!

Spiritually Unequal Marriage said...

Curious Servant:

Love your posts. I am sorry I have not had the time to visit frequently. I just finished reading your current post. I laughed, pondered and so appreicated your honesty.

I related to all you said. Thank you for you commitment to share with us.

Jim said...

These are words of wisdom for us that I can use. Mrs. Jim and I were just talking about her Mom this afternoon.
Neither of us could take having this MIL in the house with us. Sorry, we love her, but it just wouldn't work.
You must be having a very difficult living situation right now. My MIL isn't alcoholic either.
..

MugwumpMom said...

You are teaching your sons well. Very well.

I'm thinking your FIL would make a kindred spirit type friend with my mother. And like you, with boundaries, I choose to overlook the offense,and love the person, because ultimately, love does that. But does it have to be so hard!? LOL.

martie said...

I have always told my children that I will always love them but may not like what they do or approve of what they do, but the love will always be there. But I have one son who always tested this truth....to see if I meant what I said! Now that he and the others are grown, I hear them telling the same thing to their children and meaning it!! We are all God's children.

Great post!

jollybeggar said...

http://northvus.blogspot.com/2006/09/popcorn-for-parched.html