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Life Beyond the Pond

Last week, in our continuing series, we considered perspective, in difficult circumstances, through a child’s eyes as my daughter had stated “But we won’t live happily ever after” when finding out her Daddy had just died. Yet she quickly acknowledged, with the uncluttered soul of a child, that her Daddy was in a far better place now.

My daughter summarized, in seven words, what we all feel like at times, when five years after the death of her Daddy, I had to tell her that her six year old brother, who she adored, had just died.

As we age, our perspective tends to change. We are more influenced by how difficult times impact us and we get frustrated in not knowing “why” something bad “had to” happen. We grow weary at the lack of answers we often have to live with, during times of great adversity. My daughter summarized, in seven words, what we all feel like at times, when five years after the death of her Daddy, I had to tell her that her six year old brother, who she adored, had just died. I used the story of water bugs and dragonflies to do so.

In this story there are a group of water bugs. They are great friends and are around each other all the time, enjoying life in the pond. The pond is all they know, of the world. In fact, to them there is no concept of life beyond the pond. Yet, from time to time, they notice some water bugs move out of sight, never to be seen again. This troubles them greatly. They get together and promise each other that if they ever leave the group, they will come back and tell the others where they have been. They all agree.

“I’m tired of being a water bug”.

One day, a water bug found himself moving away from the rest of the group, and then realized he was no longer in the pond, but was on the surface. Falling asleep on a lily pad he awoke to find out he was no longer a water bug, but a beautiful creature with delicate wings. He had become a dragonfly and found himself flying in his magnificent surroundings. Looking back to the pond he realized how the pond was nothing at all compared to the life that he was now a part of. As he remembered his promise, he tried to re-enter the surface of the water to be able to share, with his friends, that the pond is nothing compared to life beyond the pond. However, he found himself frustrated at his inability to go back into the water. Yet, he was comforted to know that someday they too would rise above, life in the pond, and know there is so much beyond their limited pond existence.[1]

As I conveyed this story to my eight year old daughter, trying to give her a child like story that related to death, that might help her process what I had just told her about her brother’s death, she looked up at me, with tears in her eyes and said these seven profound words.

“I’m tired of being a water bug”.

God wants us to express our feelings to Him. He wants our raw honesty. Sometimes the most basic, and totally honest prayers, are the most powerful.

I sat there stunned at how she so quickly summarized what we adults often feel. It is exhausting, at times, not having answers this side of eternity. We are so consumed with life “in the pond”, that we focus all our attention on the pond we are in, and our frustration as water bugs, not being able to comprehend what life is beyond the pond.

As Christians we know there is life beyond this one, but our knowledge is so very limited that life here can become very frustrating at times. Particularly in difficult circumstances, we tend to lose perspective. We focus far too much on the pond, and our present circumstances.

God wants us to express our feelings to Him. He wants our raw honesty. Sometimes the most basic, and totally honest prayers, are the most powerful. At times, through our tears, and in the midst of our raw emotions, when eloquent prayers are not an option, when we barely know what to pray or how to pray the simplest prayer, from a broken heart, is just what is called for, and it will be honored by God.

God I’m tired, so tired, of being a water bug. Please help me to gain perspective.

Please help me to focus on the other side of eternity, when I can’t make sense of this side.

Help me to be a water bug with a greater perspective. To understand that this pond, I am in, is part of a much, much bigger picture. Just as this difficulty, I am experiencing, is also part of a much bigger picture I am unaware of….

for a time, only for a time.

 

[1]A summary of the book, Water Bugs and Dragonflies, Doris Stickney, The Pilgrim Press, Ohio 1982. Adapted from “Death” Colloquy, December 1970.

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