As grandparents, daily we hear news from Colorado about Abby's progress. Truthfully, the news is daily (as mentioned in previous posts) up and down. I remember so well CS Lewis and what he labeled, "the law of undulation." Here's a bit on that "law:
All of our lives are filled with peaks and valleys. Yet, there is something within all of us that longs, however hopelessly, for a life free from these undulations. There isn't a day that goes by where that longing for everything being "calm,"stress-less," or "settled down" doesn't get articulated in some discourse or conversation with someone who journeys with us in life. "Things will be so much better when..." I'm sure if I took the time to tally the use of that phrase during my daily life, I'd be shocked and surprised. Despite my daily delusion of peace, the reality is (at least for most of us) that we feel like we never reach the "...when." And because of that, until we feel like we have reached the "then," we live in fear, disappointment and frustration. Our expectations get the best of us because, despite our best hopes and prayers, the ups and downs continue...the "when" never arrives. Now, I've heard every cliche on the planet on how to justify or, at least, look at this undulation "law" in a favorable manner. I get frustrated just thinking about it...but I think our frustration with it comes from two main factors:
1 - We all were created for a life NOT of brokeness and struggle but of peace and love. The law of undulation may be that one reality of the "fall" that still haunts us the most. Our soul longs for its true home. That is one factor that reminds us that the brokenness of our current life experience is only a distortion of the way life was meant to be experienced. For those of us who follow Jesus, our hearts long for that day when every tear will be wiped clean and every hurt healed.
2 - We get tired of living in the valley. Oh come on! Admit it! Aren't you tired of hearing things like, "it's in the valleys that we grow..." OR "it's only when our faith is tested that it gets stronger." I've heard it all and sometimes I just want to stop and yell at the top of my lungs, "I'm SO done with the valleys, Lord...how about a mountain top or two for a least a few days."
During this journey with Abby, our family has had to depend on each other and Jesus to be able to bring us hope. In addition, in a new way, we are all struggling with the reality of undulation because it is so "darn" draining. Even so, we need, you need to be reminded about another reason WHY we experience these unwanted alternations in life. C. S. Lewis sheds light on this question through the advice of the senior devil to his nephew in book, The Screwtape Letters:
"Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it."
We can easily become confused and discouraged in the valleys of life. And, in the midst of our confusion and discouragement, guess what we are vulnerable to? MORE discouragement, MORE confusion, MORE unanswered questions, and, by the way, MORE attack. Now, I could go on and on about this...but let me close this way - what can we do in such times? When the clouds of life cast a gray shadow over us, it is especially important to remind ourselves that what we are experiencing is a normal part of life in a fallen world and that in due course the sun will shine again. With this reminder of reality, we can then seek God’s grace to help us in our time of need and also share our burdens with those who travel with us. We can only look to the LORD and his strength; we can only seek his face always. Yes, for us as a family, Abby is day to day. Some days are worthy of rejoicing and finding rest...others, well, they are exhausting. We know that the presence of the Spirit is with us as we make this "undulating journey" together. We know that the Lord is fully present with us as each day brings to Abby and us what it does. All we can say is "make your presence known Jesus and give us the grace to fully embrace the peaks and valleys of this day for, yes, the best is yet to come." The way I see it is that the more I trust in Jesus in the midst of the undulating reality the more I trust Jesus and feel his love both in the ups and downs. And believe me, we all need both!
So, here's to Abby (and the Schreibers all) feeling the hand of Jesus no matter what direction she is headed today. And may her anticipation of a brighter day be that which gives her hope!