Multi-Level Disasters? Mother-in-Law Debates? Maple-Lemon Duck Sauce?
Acronyms develop when something appears so often that it calls for a more efficient name. No need for, “Repondez s’il vous plait.” Just write, “R.S.V.P.” Same with A.M., P.M., B.C., A.D., P.S., ASAP, B.Y.O.B and many more.
I’ve decided to coin an acronym: M.L.D. stands for Major Life Disappointment. I’ve decided it’s long overdue we talk about them, and officialize while taming them a bit, as acronyms tend to do. A case in point: A.D.D. became an official diagnosis, a household word, and an acronym around the same time. Admitting the diagnosis no longer shamed parent or child. The same should be true of admitting our M.L.D.s. Many, but not all, of us have had them. They lurk behind even happy eyes and broad, brave smiles. Here is my short list of some of the things that would qualify as M.L.D.s:
1. Untimely bereavement- Death of a loved one always saddens, but the loss of a child or young spouse hits harder than the loss of a 95 year-old grandfather. The young wife who loses her husband, the child who loses his parent, these bereavements bring almost unspeakable grief. Note: Let the bereavement be a suicide, and the grief is unspeakable.
2. Chronic health problems- You may know those nagging bodily malfunctions that don’t kill you but sometimes make you wish they would. Especially strange, poorly-understood illnesses such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome qualify. Chronic suffering that others can’t comprehend makes for a lonely road.
3. Straying children- This one punches any parent in the gut; but invested, godly parents most of all. A true parent cannot sever emotional ties with their child any more than a river can stop its flow into a stream. But a lost child makes that connection continually and extremely painful.
4. History of abuse- I’ve known people whose abuse history resembles an X-rated horror film. Especially incest or domestic violence damages the bonding machinery such that relationships come hard ever after. Not only are the victim’s family connections forever compromised, but the sense of being a misfit around healthier people drives them into the very subpopulation that violated them in the first place.
5. Aging- “He has set eternity in their hearts,” meaning that God created us to live forever. The wearing down and ultimate death of the systems that support life, plus the crumbling of personal appearance, ability, and ultimately cognitive strength, can drain zest for life right out of a person.
6. Relationship failure- We all have a few burned bridges on our life’s path, but very intimate relationship failure, such as marriage or parent-child, leave the very worst charring and, depending upon circumstances, cause the very worst ongoing pain. Relationships are delicate, intricate, and at times complicated. The best of surgeons must sometimes pronounce patients dead. It happens—in the hospital and the hospital of relationships.
The list goes on and on, enumerating as many sorrows as a fallen planet can choke out, but these fall close to home for me and those I care about.
So, am I writing this to depress you and myself? No, I’m setting us up for a solution. And here it is: Jesus saves from M.L.D.s. Not the way we would like Him to save, no. But in His way, He saves us. For the person who lives for this world alone, an M.L.D. drags them down like a lead boot in a foot race, unfortunate and unredeemable. But for a believer preparing for the coming of Jesus, an M.L.D. provides a needed wedge between their spirit and things of the world. M.L.D.s help spiritually as they harm temporally. More than this, M.L.D.s drive to a higher Source of satisfaction.
Let me get very personal and real here. My M.L.D.s have given me less to look forward to in this world. I really don’t feel excited about much. But my innate forward-looking human nature has adjusted by simply skipping over this world and honestly anticipating the world to come. I used to bristle a bit when people talked about the coming of Jesus. I worried I wouldn’t “make it.” I didn’t trust my own holiness enough to jump up and down at the thought of facing a pure, holy God coming with ten thousands of angels to purify the world of sin. But lately I’ve decided to leave my preparedness in the Preparer’s hands, and simply look forward to a much better world and the utter end of MLDs.
What have your MLDs been? How has Jesus used them in your life?