Thursday, May 15, 2014

TToT26: Cloud of Witnesses

I'm totally cheating and reposting my FTSF post. The truth is, it's what I'm thankful for this week, and I haven't quite cleared my brain of it and gotten ready for a whole 'nother set of thankfuls. Plus, my cloud of witnesses includes well more than ten so I think it counts.

BUT, three Things of Worthwhile:
1. The Dude is really great at finding complete wastes of our time online (Spurious Correlations).
2. We have a sense of humor that delights in the absurd (Duck Song, Parts 1, 2, and 3--especially fun if you know the joke about the duck who walks into a bar and asks for grapes).
3. We have an appreciation for completely useless talents (Emma Stone kicks Jimmy Fallon's a$% at lip-synching).

So, without further eloquence (without further eloquence)...

Ten Things of Thankful


 Your hosts



I know people who can recite off hundreds of (maybe a thousand?) Bible verses. I cannot. Like many people, regardless of religious preference, I know John 3:16, and thanks to Mr. Brazil, my middle school Algebra teacher, I will never, ever forget Proverbs 13:15, "...the way of the transgressor is hard." (He worked that in almost every day.)

One summer during my teen years I attended church camp, and I learned a (what I just now realized when looking up the book, chapter and verse) paraphrased version of Hebrews 12:1-2.
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
We had motions to go with it (file that under the effectiveness of kinesthetic teaching modalities because church camp was 20 years ago, at least). I'm not usually one to name favorites or bests, but this has to be a top passage. Whether or not Jesus is the pioneer and perfecter of your faith, you cannot disregard the beauty of those words. Pioneer and perfecter. Wonderful.

But what really made those words stick in my mind these twenty-some years is the cloud of witnesses. Have you ever walked through a cloud of gnats? I always thought of it like that, but pleasant. A sort of hovering presence created by all the people who loved you and taught you and modeled for you the right way to live. A remembrance of their example and an ever-present feeling of their love and support.

It's probably safe to say most people would name family members among their cloud of witnesses. And I feel the same. I am fortunate enough to not only name my parents and siblings but my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with several other 'great' relatives (now long gone) as people who had a decided presence in my early years. I grew up in regular contact with a very large extended family on both sides. I grew up knowing the peace and comfort of being loved and accepted simply because I was born.

When I was growing up, I always knew my family was the best family. No one else's compared. No other family was as clever, quick-witted, and funny. No one else's family was as intelligent and resourceful, as evidenced by so many notable and high profile successes. And no one else's family truly honored each member and enjoyed each other's company like my family.

And then I grew up. And I realized that my family has flaws, and that other people have wonderful families, too. Not as wonderful as my family, true, but wonderful in ways my family is not. For instance, my family is proud and competitive and tolerates teasing to a meaner level than I can appreciate.

Time went by, and I got married and had a baby. A baby who has turned into a wonderful little girl who thinks, talks, and moves slowly, for whom school will probably always be hard, and whose successes do not and will not look the same as the traditional successes modeled by my parents, my aunts and uncles, my siblings and cousins, and all. of. their. children.

And I found comfort in distance. I grieved over the distance and my inability to participate in family functions, but I felt safer in one regard. I could protect my daughter from negative comparisons or from feeling left out. And I could protect myself from seeing the differences between her and her cousins. I could protect myself from feeling I didn't belong because the child I produced doesn't fit the traditional model of success demonstrated so well by my family.

I wrote a blog post on May 9 titled The Hardest Part. It's about the stressfulness of decision-making for your children. A few days later, I got an email from a family member offering a gift that I never expected and could not immediately comprehend. And in it, I remembered the essential lesson modeled by my cloud of witnesses: you are loved and accepted because you were born.

You do not need to perform. You do not need to think and look and act the same. You are loved and accepted and treasured because you were born. So great is my cloud of witnesses.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post for the prompt, The nicest thing someone ever did for me was... 

Join in with Janine, Kate, Kristi and Stephanie.




47 comments :

  1. I couldn't agree more and admit that just when I think no one is watching, listening or caring, someone in my family will do something like you shared here that does indeed make a difference. So, yes can truly relate and am thankful for my family, as well because of this and so much more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you have a loving and supportive family, too, Janine! How lucky we are!

      Delete
  2. I liked this post. I found comfort in distance: I, too, was loved and accepted, but I was always a "clark" - the Outsider in a family of "rogers" - haha, see the Wakefield Doctrine. :P Anyways, I was the "academic" and so many in my family were "partiers," and I was an introvert and they are ALL extroverted. So, when I grew up, I knew that distance would make my heart grow fonder - and it did. :) I have a good relationship with my family - we don't talk all that often, but we do love each other and I'm sure they scratch their heads at me and the fact that I have a blog almost puzzles them, but still...it's good. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, my family is quite 'academic,' and in many ways I fit right in. I still love spending time together, but having a child with special needs made me a little uncomfortable and wary. This gesture from my relative made me realize how unfair I was to judge them!

      Delete
  3. Wow, Sarah. Just, wow. Beautiful thoughts and words and I can relate to so much of it. Actually, all of it, with maybe the exception of an algebra teacher quoting a bible verse. ;)
    I love your ending. That all of us, and all of our children, are loved and accepted because they were born. Huge love for this post today, sweets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr. Brazil was a Character. He also talked a lot about beans and rice, his supper of choice.
      I know you can identify because I think I've read this in bits and pieces of your posts over the past few years!

      Delete
  4. I have never studied that passage, but it is now one of my new favorites. I was just writing my TToT post, and this week it's all about the people who have gone out of their way to be kind this week. I have a wonderful cloud of witnesses. What a wonderful image.
    I'm glad a relative reached out to you. I pray you can once again feel comfortable and less distant from the relatives you love so much. Someday...
    Thank you for introducing me to that scripture.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I am excited to have introduced you to a new passage. I do love this one, and I think it can be meaningful to anyone, regardless of faith.

      Delete
  5. So many powerful images and thoughts in this post. In fact a great cloud of them. Such a gift that your relative reached out to you by email after reading your post. Those unexpected gifts are often the best of them all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is valuable about this gift is how it made me realize that I was judging by expecting to be judged instead of loved. Such a wonderful gift.

      Delete
  6. As a mother of a child who doesn't fit the "normal" mold as well, I thank you. Believe it or not, I'd not heard that quote before, but I will never forget it. Very powerful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is such a good one. Like gnats, but pleasant.

      Delete
  7. I love the concept of a "cloud of witnesses", and it's actually something I think about a lot. It's powerful, and yet sometimes uncomfortable and humbling in addition to being comforting and inspiring. Either way, I am grateful for mine! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right, and I can see both sides of it, too. Glad to hear you have a good one, too!

      Delete
  8. Amen sister. So beautifully and honestly said. I am so grateful for our cloud and grateful that it includes Maggie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get your metaphorical and literal reference.

      Delete
  9. I'm glad that what you have is a safe place for your daughter to grow up in. For her, that's most important.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, I'm glad you did repost this, it's so worthy of TWO posts. At least two. It's heavy, solid truth through and through.
    It's great you have a wonderful family, and it's fantastic your daughter has your unending support, something not every child has. She's miles ahead of a lot of the world, she's loved and accepted. You can't buy that, or get a prescription, or an illegal dose over the internet from Canada! I hope she realizes how lucky she is! (Something tells me if she doesn't already, she certainly will!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Joy, thanks! I hope she will always feel that love and acceptance.

      Delete
  11. This was so beautiful. Great is our cloud of witnesses... And we should never have to fit into anyone's model! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! Especially meaningful since you write so beautifully yourself.

      Delete
  12. We should never have to fit into anyone else's model just to be accepted! needed to hear this today. Beautiful, and shared.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thanks so much for sharing! That is a compliment!

      Delete
  13. What a sweet post! That scripture is my husband's favorite.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm familiar with that verse but not the song :). I think this just might be a great prompt for a post in and of itself...or maybe a future TToT!

    Thanks for the beautiful words! I can hear my sister's whispers in them as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Suggest it to Lizzi and see what she says.
      I truly appreciate the positive feedback, and thanks as always for reading.

      Delete
  15. I'm currently reading the Bible and can only recite a few key verses (and probably not very well). I'm learning to treasure myself and love who I am. Some days I find it very hard, no matter how many affirmations I read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It can be hard some days, can't it? It's so good that you have an activity that helps you think positively about yourself, though.

      Delete
  16. I wish I had the kind of mind that memorized many bible verses. I like the thought of a cloud of witnesses. Far better than a cloud of gnats! =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, indeed! I used to have a better memory. But then I had kids.

      Delete
  17. Wow,Sarah! This is incredible. I love the idea of being loved and accepted just because you were born. This is something not everyone has, but should. I know, for me, I didn't always have that feeling growing up and it took me a while growing up until I figured it out. My cloud of witnesses was, and is, there. Just not in the sense I would have expected. This was a truly inspiring post and I'm very glad that your daughter has you for the amazing support and love that you so obviously give to her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandy! You are right that too many people don't get that kind of support. What's wonderful is that people can grow up and create their own. I was just lucky to have one from birth.

      Delete
  18. I like the term witness (as I hear here and in other other uses and contexts), as it implies and conveys a sense of gaining from and providing help to others without requiring that they acknowledge my participation.
    cool

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think you have the same take on it that I do. "Cool" from Clark is indeed cool. :)

      Delete
  19. I love that phrase, cloud of witnesses! Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Witnesses hold us accountable and are there for our good choices and our bad. Truly lovely and thought-provoking post, Sarah!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Absolutely amazing post. "cloud of witnesses" is such a lovely image.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Still love this. Maybe even more, now. xoxox Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I can tell that this is a great post. And I would love to have something great to say, but where my head is right now, it's barely processing some days. So I'll just say that I'll be back again (I think for the fourth time - I've read this like three already) and try to figure out why I keep coming back to read. Maybe there's something in here I'm supposed to "get" that I'm missing. Let's just say it's a rough week...or two...right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like you need a break! DO NOT feel obligated to read my posts. Email sometimes when you less overwhelmed.

      Delete
  24. How beautiful is that lesson? I frequently fall into trash-talking my mostly wonderful and supportive family and then they go and surprise me with their love and remind me that I need to shut up :) Literally, they tell me to shut up.

    ReplyDelete

Make my day and leave me a comment!