One morning, when the sun spilled through the front windows of my grandmother’s house – something happened between the drinking of hot cocoa at her kitchen table and my sockless feet pushing off the porch floor propelling me high and low on my grandmother’s swing.
My “Can-I-stay-here-forever” wish which every child asks when it’s time to leave their grandparent’s house – and which should always be answered with a gentle, hug-filled, “No” – garnered a yes. My mother said, “Yes” over the phone, in the morning light slipping boldly across the upstairs hallway as Grandmother and I made beds. Yes, because of a broken marriage.
Radical divorce – 1967 radical. Radical divorce giving a yes to askings that should always receive no.
Radical divorce planted a seed dream in my heart – a dream to grow up and have a “normal” family – to become what I perceived was an everyman life – 2 parents loving each other, raising children in security, love and faith who grow with support to reach their dreams, butterfly-kiss families.
Radical meaning “favoring or tending to produce extreme or fundamental changes in political, economic, or social conditions, institutions, habits of mind; someone who demands substantial or extreme changes in the existing system.”
Divorce radicalized family, an extreme fundamental cultural exchange that left me uncomfortable.
As I grew, this everyman dream (born age 5) competed with my writing dream (born age 6).
God was in this everyman dream of mine – conventional, traditional – rooted all the way back to Abraham and Sarah, to Adam and Eve.
Faith inside the Garden of Eden was Normal. Faith outside the Garden of Eden is Radical.
The Soul is always trying to get back to the Father; Only in Him does the soul find rest, recognize the normal state God created him/her for. The soul wants to be found, wants to be at home, wants to be accepted at His family table. The soul yearns for God-normal and God-ordinary.
Yet, we live faith outside Eden. Faith outside Eden is radical.
As I grew in living and grew in faith, I met other children of the Father. One young man had scripture tattooed over his arms, legs, back, chest. He wanted to capture the attention of the outsider, he said. Radical Reaching.
My maid-of-honor’s sister’s family were missionaries in Africa, entering war-torn regions, losing a son to asthma in a place where medical help wasn’t readily available. He’d grown up in Africa, wanted to go back and minister, a washing-feet kind of ministry. Radical Reaching.
Maybe Radical Reaching is, also, possibly as simple as a Hotdogs and Prayer front-yard, after-school community outreach – whether it’s your own front yard or school’s front yard or your church’s front yard.
This everyman dream to love and be loved in marriage until we’re each 100.
This everyman dream to raise children with parenting arms that don’t pull apart.
This everyman dream to raise to wholeness, not brokenness.
This everyman dream to raise sons with a rhema/alive knowledge of the Father’s healing, mercy, strength and love.
I have been struggling with my everyman dream lately – that trying to live God-ordinary is not enough.
Suddenly, faith had become radical, and I was asking God for an ordinary dream.
Had my non-radical dreams been like a balloon weight keeping me from soaring high? Had I dreamed too small, too low? Limited God’s purpose for my life?
And that, my friend, was a deception of a radical snake that entered a normal garden that was Eden at one time. The devil was playing semantic games with my faith.
One noon-time, my oldest son walked up the porch steps, prowled around the kitchen for lunch while I sat in the rocking chair grading college essays. He had popped over from the university.
“Do you know,” he said. “We’re a peculiar family. Not all families are like us.”
“Ummm – yeah – we’re called to be a peculiar people,” I countered, deliberately mis-translating his intent. Apparently, he had just discovered not all families were like ours. I don’t know whether he found out other parents didn’t give their kids Payne’s Common Sense and stockings full of C.S. Lewis before Narnia was made into blockbuster movies. I don’t know if he found out other families didn’t talk about the Senate, the House, the Legislative Branch and decisions affecting our families. Maybe not all families believe in laying on of hands for healing. The conversation never went down that road.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9)
Maybe we are a peculiar family. If peculiarity meant different, not the status quo defined in the media – well, maybe my everyman dream was more radical than I realized.
If being radical is a son praying for a friend in the school bathroom
If being radical is reaching out hands to hold while praying God’s peace in a hard challenge for a friend or a stranger
If being radical is a son hanging out with atheists to show them the heart of a child of God
If being radical is praying for broken boys when they have no one else that does
If being radical is standing in faith and overcoming instead of hope and joy being destroyed
If being radical shows sons stopping a bully and ministering to the bullied
If being radical is praying for a friend in Wal-Mart’s parking lot
If being radical is raising sons who pray that God show them the bride He intends for them
If being radical is praying for a baby to turn and believing God does
. . . .Maybe an everyman dream produces radical results in a world that is not God-normal.
“How can you stand to come here everyday,” a fellow worker moaned.
“It’s a good job. There are worse jobs. Maybe I don’t use all my gifts, all myself but it’s a good job,” I answered. “I believe in blooming where I’m planted.”
“I don’t want to bloom here,” she laughed.
Yet, even in the hard ground, even the ground we see as uncomfortable, we are to reach for Him, find His blessings and in the reaching and finding, we bloom where we are planted.
Radical: “Implanted by nature; In botany, proceeding immediately from the root; pertaining to the root or origin; original, fundamental; as a radical truth” (Noah Webster, 1828 dictionary).
Blooming where I am planted is radical living, radical faith when the root is the Father – and that root is where normal lives.
Maybe there is something radical about the ordinary everyman dream – something beautifully radical growing and blooming. Something that shouldn’t be diminished or discounted. Something that maybe doesn’t soar but blooms riotously.
Maybe an everyman dream produces radical results in a world that is not God-normal.