Monday, November 28, 2011

"Guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the issues of life"

How many times have I heard this verse (Proverbs 4:23) and rolled my eyes? I've heard it so many times that I complete the sentence when it's started and we all know that means I'm not listening or taking that in, I'm just acknowledging it's there.

Today, that verse took on a whole new meaning for me. A friend recounted a story that left a bitter taste in my mouth; her neighbor was murdered by her husband when she asked for a separation after years of abuse.

The man insisted on dropping her off at her mother's because she was going with his children and he wanted to make sure they were safe. He stopped in the middle of nowhere and said the car had a problem and that he needed her help changing something in the back. It was a two hour drive to her mother's place and the children had fallen asleep in the back. When she got out, he knocked her unconscious, tied her up, and placed her on a pile of corn stalks that had been gathered in preparation to be burnt. He then set fire to the pile and left her for dead.

After that, he dropped the children off about a block from his wife's mother's place knowing that the nosiness of village neighbours would ensure they got to their grandma's. The children were still asleep (they were three and five years old).

Long story short, the woman was found when the smoke from the fire alerted neighbours. The corn stalks were not completely dry and so smoked a lot. She died after a week at the hospital. She told her story before dying.

Her children made it to their grandma's and the old lady's search for her daughter led to her finding out about the fire.

The man went to his family and told them he came home from work to find out the woman had run away with the children and that the woman had threatened suicide several times so he was worried and wanted them(his mum and sisters) to go check with his in-laws if his wife had come home.

The police followed his mom and sisters back and arrested him. Sadly, nothing they do to him will bring her back.

Some people make wrong choices about whom to entrust their hearts to and suffer heartache, etc. Some pay with their lives and/or souls.

Whom you decide to love and/or marry is not about who makes your friends the most envious of your good fortune or who can make your toes curl in bed. It's also a choice of how good the rest of your life will be, and sometimes as we've seen, how long that rest of your life will be.

As the New Living Translation puts it, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Risky Business (A Mother's Pain)

 Everyone’s heard about the pain of motherhood, but the tales from the delivery room don’t begin to cover it. As I held my daughter who was trying with herculean effort to contain her racking sobs, I understood more than ever the utter pain and despair of a mother who would give anything to take her child’s pain away and yet couldn't.

I think back to a happier day, the day my husband, by custom, slaughtered a fattened ram to celebrate the birth of our tenth born. I remember the smiles of my own mother, and the pride I felt at having nine children dressed in white, seated at my feet with the tenth in my arms, contentedly suckling at my breast, validating my womanhood.

Today, I had buried six out of the ten, and my husband had taken the lead into the afterworld. And as I sat in the sterile room consoling my daughter as my grand-daughter fought what was by all indication, a losing battle against cancer, I knew the exact measure of that pain.

My daughter was an insurance expert; risk management was right up there in her alley. And yet when it came to the greatest risk of all, she was just as unprotected as the rest of the world. I remember when her husband was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan days after her daughter was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. My broken daughter looked up to me in despair and asked. “Why is there no insurance against such pain when you can insure your fingernails if you so desired?”

I’d had no answer for her then. And I didn't have any for myself now. I too had been dealt no better cards in the gamble that is motherhood. I always believed the greatest gamble we took with our hearts was falling in love. Now I realize that while it’s true, it’s not the love that drives us to the altar, but the love that wells up when we’re handed that new-born baby that was the costliest chip.