Stephanie called me in a panic; as one can imagine, dealing with something like this first hand can be quite the experience. An experience that many will thankfully not have to go through. Nevertheless, after a failed attempt at deep-frying–and throwing water on a grease fire–I came home from work early upon Stephanie’s call to our entire complex outside along with an array of firetrucks, police vehicles and other diverse spectators. Actually the whole thing was quite a scene–to be sure, sometimes we learn lessons the hard way and I do not believe that this is a bad thing.
As we entered into our apartment the next day (we had spent the night at my parents and would spend the night there in the ensuing week), the kitchen was completely torched and the remainder of the unit was heavy-laden with ash: burnt walls, smoke stains and more. It is something quite inexplicable, either with word or in picture, because both cannot capture the complex feelings of such a sight. For example, a broken and burnt picture frame containing the remnant of one of your very expensive degrees. Not the paper, but the hard work, effort, and money put into the schooling in order to obtain such a thing. This too is transitory.
As I picked up one of the books I had left on the end-table on my side of the bed, an inch of soot slowly but surely rumbled down Paul Fiddes’ The Creative Suffering of God which was a part of my study of impassibility (ἀπάθεια, impassibilitas) early this year as I finished my M.Div degree, a sense of irony swept over me. For it occurred to me for the first time, existentially, the horror of allowing God to suffer creatively in some way in his essence or being. Now certainly a house fire is not suffering when one examines the horrors of history and atrocities perpetrated now across the world. Even still, this experience allowed me to reflect on the goodness of God, and affirm that far be it from Him to be stuck in and subject to suffering, but on the contrary God, “unchangeably ordain[s] whatsoever [shall] come to pass” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 3.2). While we certainly are not to guess and inquire into the decretive or hidden will of God, yet it is not hard for us to realize already the profound, complex ways that God is teaching and sanctifying us through all of this. From shaping us to trust Him more, to showing us the love of the Body of Christ, to challenging us and propelling us forward in new ways so we can learn about Himself and His character.
With that being said, we cannot thank everyone enough for their outpouring, love, donations, gifts, and more. Within a week we have been able to acquire a new studio apartment unit, obtain new articles of clothing and wash and dry clean what clothing we were able to salvage. For the record, this was the first time I have every stepped foot into a dry-cleaners, and also the first time I have spent $500 on laundry! We also were able to get all the essential items that one doesn’t think twice about having, indeed we take for granted, like scissors and tape to toiletries and more. Yesterday we were able to purchase a complete bed set on a great deal which is the nicest thing I have ever slept on in my 25 years of existence. What is more? New comforters and sheets, groceries, furniture, and other amazing items. Seriously, it is amazing the outpouring we have received, and we are wholly unworthy of all of it. Indeed, we have already been able to give back older items (Goodwill) and clothing (Easter Seals) and are committed to giving back 10% of all the monetary donations we have received this past week to Rahab Ministries, an extremely amazing and reputable ministry that is right next to us in Akron, OH, and helps females who have endured hardship, sexual exploitation, etc., to get back on their feet with clothing and toiletries, housing, and ultimately the gracious news of Christ. Our church Hudson Presbyterian has been partnering with them for many years and it truly is a blessing.
In conclusion, we now know what “renter’s insurance is” (I called Geico the day after the fire and was secured within five minutes; unfortunately that is one day too late), we understand that we have amazing friends and family and are blessed beyond belief, and we lastly understand that our God is good.
“And lost be the day to us in which a measure hath not been danced. And false be every truth which hath not had laughter along with it!” Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 56.23.
Sometimes the best thing to do is simply laugh, love, dance and know that all these things are transitory at best. Only love will endure.
With love and thankfulness ineffable,
Brent & Steph
On the Eve of New Years Eve, 2015
*Note, this post will also included in ‘thank you’ letters in printed form for those who will not be able to access this blog post