hell’s silver linings

I write this, hopefully emerging from bed bug hell. We had another (hopefully final) treatment at the house this past week, and plan to begin transitioning back into our home in the next week, over two months after having moved out.

Amidst all we have had to deal with this summer for which we are most emphatically not grateful, we treasure those aspects of the last few months for which we are grateful. For it has been and remains incredibly important amidst all the frustration and stress and inconvenience to identify and name what we can celebrate.

1. Our neighbors, our friends and our extended family—the reality in which we live and move and have our being that has proven itself over and over again to be graceful and generous, supportive and welcoming.

2. The flexibility of our nuclear family—such a very real strength. The willingness and the ability not just to adapt and adjust over the course of nine moves to different locations, but also to be genuinely excited about each new context.

3. The weeding out of stuff. Not talking about what we had to get rid of that we would not otherwise have chosen to get rid of, but getting rid of things long needing to have been gotten rid of (impressive verb construction there, don’t you think?!).

4. Three rooms (and counting) painted—needing something to look forward to moving back to, something new, something fresh.

5. Three closets completely stripped of wallpaper (and who wallpapers ceilings of closets? and that oh-so-very thin strip of wall between the door frame and the corner?)—anyhow, three closets, ready to paint.

6. A renewed commitment to making the house what and how we want it to be.

7. The prioritizing of who we are as a family—affirming that as important as where we are is (and we’re more aware of that than ever!)— as important as where we are is, who we are is so much more so. We are grounded less in place than in love.

So, amidst all that is and has been terrible, there are these silver linings. Hell’s silver linings. Now, I admit to thinking that what was initially only the working title of this blog entry was somewhat of a careless exaggeration—comparing bed bugs to hell!

I intend hell no disrespect. Because theologically, I find myself committed to some idea of hell (respecting the consequence of our choices and actions). Less sure it’s something God does to us—that it’s some kind of after death punishment, certain it’s something God is always trying to work us out of …. So maybe, it’s not such a careless title after all …. It obviously turned into more than just a working title!

Off and on, I return to contemplating that so often misinterpreted, misunderstood verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). It has, I believe, nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with validating or justifying any experience or circumstance as good (there is nothing about our experience that was good), and has everything to do with the commitment that sees us through any experience or circumstance (that there might be good to come out of what was most definitely not).

The Greek verb translated as “working together” is actually the root word from which we get our noun “synergy.” There is a synergy for good for those committed to love even within circumstances far from good. Even the road to hell is lined with silver for those with eyes to see. That’s good news … that’s a good synergy!


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