Friday, March 31, 2006

Many Colored Days

Having a toddler, I get the pleasure and pain of reading lots of toddler books. Most of them are mundane and repetitive, but one of them recently got my attention.

Though I've probably read it close to a hundred times now, recently one phrase from My Many Colored Days keeps repeating over and over again in my mind: "You'd be surprised how many ways I change on different colored days."

I can see the point of the phrase. I mean, when someone reads my blog, some days I'm happy, other days are sad, and that comes out not only in what I write, but how I write it.

But I wonder about my many colored days. Every day I'm both happy and sad, sassy and pensive, reflective and brash. Every moment of every day these things are swirling around inside me, looking for a trigger to get out. But how can that be? How can I be both happy and sad?

The reality, I think, is that every happy time in my life is at least partially colored by a sad time, and likewise every sad time is colored by a happy time. My previous experience colors how I understand each and every moment, and my actions in response to that understanding color how you know me. When you get to know me, you travel in time and visit my past in each every moment that I respond to you. Likewise, you cause me to travel in time as you face my actions and respond to them.

As I reflect even more on my life, I realize that the parts that hurt make me who I am more than the parts that don't. Not only do the parts that hurt cause me to be more reserved, more cautious, they also remind me of my failures, of things lost and broken. Even during the happy times, the parts that hurt dig deep, they pinch and cut, and they drive me into the future to find the thing that can heal the wounds.

I wonder about the future. Am I more than the sum of my past? Is there redemption for the painful experiences that remain forever fixed in time, integrated into who I am becoming? Does heaven mean that God erases the painful parts of who I am, and in the process erase the very thing that makes me unique - the very thing that causes me to search after Him?

Somehow, I don't think so. Somehow I think that God leaves the parts that hurt - the things that make me, me. But how can a just God leave the pain just sitting there? How can a just God allow the events of Auschwitz to remain hanging in time? How can a healing Father allow the events surrounding my Dark Time in college to still swirl around inside me, coloring all I see? How can the infinite beauty of heaven coexist with the painful events that make us who we are - the very things that cause us to grope after the divine?

Maybe it's all about color. Maybe the beautiful, colorful God interacts with us in as we grope for goodness. Maybe when He touches us, he travels in time to our past, and sees our hurts and pain, sees how they color our lives and make us who we are. Maybe when we touch Him, we travel deep into the past, being colored as the infinte God interacts with us, and shows us His presence, making us new. Not new because our past is erased, but new because as we travel into the past, our perspective is shifted. No longer is each and every moment of hurt colored by pain, but in each and every painful frame of our lives our interaction with God shows Him there, interacting with us, being hurt with us. God's presence in the horrors of the past heals our painful memories and dissolves the repressions we use to keep painful memories from hurting us more. God colors my Dark Time, he colors Auschwitz by breaking down the barriers that keep full healing from taking place, then the God of all creation shows us what true healing looks like. In this way we are both the same, and made new.

So as I stretch towards the future, in search of healing and wholeness, I realize that God is slowly changing my perspective, slowing coloring me to see Him in every one of my many days - he literally changes my days to a different color. So, to me, the meaning becomes much more profound:
"You'd be surprised how many ways I change on different colored days"


Aubvious said...

Ben, This is Aubry.
My son, Caleb, watches the movie for this book all the time. He loves it and tends to label his days.

I wonder if Green Day got their name from this book?

alethia(lorri) said...

ben, we had a lot in common. you speak of your Dark Time at tech. i think i was leaving at the beginning of that time for you, but i thank you for all your support during my Dark Time. i was surrounded by wonderful people all the time and it makes me mad that i threw it all away due to stupidity and willfullness, but it has colored who i am and made me stronger. live and learn.

Benjamin said...

Aubry: Good to hear from you.

I don't think Green Day took their name from this book, since (as far as I can turn up), My Many Colored Days was not published until 1996, well after Green Day's first album. And somehow, I don't see any one of them saying "Green Day. Deep, Deep in the Sea. Cool and quiet fish, that's me."

Altheia: You're right, kiddo, we did have a lot in common. And the truth is, we were retards. It wasn't until I realized how much my Dark Time colored me that healing was able to start. At least we can claim we're not complete retards anymore.

Stacy said...

ok ben, your comment about green day singing the cool and quiet fish line, yeah, cracking me up here...i could have really used some ben inspired laughter a couple of months ago during some dark days. but God definitely made His presence known during those days and the healing continues...

Tracy P. said...

This makes me think of my nephews who lost their dad to suicide a few years ago. Both are in college now, and I have often thought of the fact that they will have to go back and process what happened at so many different stages of their lives from different perspectives--becoming adults, becoming professionals, becoming husbands, becoming dads, becoming older than their dad ever was, and so many more, I'm sure. Thanks for the reminder to pray for them.

I have yet to stop processing the events of my past in each new stage of life, but I think I approach the processing from a greater position of peace each time. I hope that will remain true as my kids head toward and through adolescence!