Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tissues

Last Thursday I used one hundred twenty tissues on my runny nose. It was a marathon-cold-day, averaging a trip to the Puffs' box every six minutes. Fortunately, they were coated with lotion, otherwise I might not have a nose today.

At one point I located three trash bags in my dining room, each dedicated to the collection of soiled tissues. At another point I almost cried from exhaustion. After listening me to lament and moan for a half hour on the bench, my wife said, "It's just a cold, Tim. Some people have cancer."

"But cancer doesn't come out of their nose," I replied smartly.

Colds are my cancer. But some day cancer might be my cancer. If it is true that God gives us no more than we can handle, He has deemed me a lightweight. I am okay with that as long as I can reach the Puffs' box and breathe at night.

One hundred and twenty blows in a day does seem excessive. I wondered aloud if this was normal. My wife agreed it was excessive. Some people sniff. Some people swallow. And some noses leak less.

Sadly, I have a distinct memory from childhood where I avoided using tissues. I would sniff and snort and channel the snot down the back of my throat. Perhaps this was not the prescribed method for dealing with a cold, but it worked. Then one day my father yelled at me, "Use a Kleenex."

I did. Excessively. One hundred and twenty in a day. And herein lies the real sickness: I need to forgive my dad.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Enough

Insatiable is the elevated term my wife and I use to describe our daughters. By this we mean, nothing is ever good enough for them. They always want a little more cereal in the bowl and a little more milk on top; another dip in the candy jar; more time with mom and one more twirl from dad; carried her, transported there; and they still beg our company in the bathroom to wipe their butts. Fortunately, we buy toilet paper in bulk.

Parenting is endless, exhausting, and proportionally thankless.

Three days ago a woman in her fifties admitted that becoming a grand-parent only surfaces the next challenging phase of parenting. How much advice and intervention to provide their children as they learn to rear their own is tenuous territory. Excess and neglect have narrow margins.

So if I'm weary now, I have a long way to go.

Along the way, there are certain payoffs. Parenting has strengthened my alliance with my wife. We are in this battle together. Sometimes it feels like us against them. Sometimes it feels like they are winning. Some day they will get married and move away, and we'll just have one another.

Moreover, I enjoy my daughters' sparks of creativity, signs of maturity, and observing their concept of God grow. We are doing this in unison. For every time I lament their lack of thanks and confess my tried patience, I recall my Father in heaven, who has played audience to enough tantrums to fill an ocean. We all need a time out.

When I consider God as Father, I resolve to outlast my insatiable children. Perhaps one day they'll thank me for it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Genesis Reflections

When the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil comes up, most of my Bible resources defer. Its existence is problematic because it assumes that God's good, blessed, and sanctified creation can include evil. At least at a conceptual level--perhaps embryonic or dormant--evil took residence in a God-designed, God-approved creation.

To be fair, humanity made the objective concept a subjective reality. Not until Eve was goaded by the serpent and Adam complicit in breaking the one prohibition, was evil activated. Humanity is to blame.

Nonetheless, human culpability does not answer the question: Why pair good with evil in the first place? Hence, commentator's deference.

Genesis, though, may hint at a resolution. As the narrative races us through the country of good and evil--family squabbles and faithful promises; fratricide and fertility; floods and rainbows; covenants and curses; stolen birthrights and spiritual blessings--it returns to the curious pair of terms from the prohibited garden tree. Joseph mentions good and evil as a summary of his tumultuous life.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph had lived as a favorite son and slave, exalted servant and criminal, only to land as Pharaoh's second-in-command. Speaking to the very brothers who betrayed him, but now begged bread, Joseph offered forgiveness (50:19). Moreover, he provided rational for the existence of evil. What man activates for evil, God redeems for good.

Joseph does not speak solely for his life, but for every life. Evil exists because God uses it for redemption. And redemption is a better story.