Sunday, July 13, 2014

Amputation


Amputated.

Severed.

Cut off.

Well, perhaps not cut off literally, but cut off figuratively. Unexpectedly and suddenly terminated. Like most traumatic accidents, I was unprepared and caught off-guard. I wasn't happy about the loss either -- to put it mildy!

Last week my longsuffering, elderly Macbook computer shut down - and never woke up. A permanent siesta of sorts.

I went through the typical stages of grief that are defined by Kubler-Ross:

At first, disbelief. "What?! This must be a fluke. Surely my computer will reboot. I just need to try it again and give it more time. It's not really broken, just acting out..."

Then anger. "Why God?! Why now? What I have done to deserve this? If you're trying to teach me a lesson from this loss, please teach it another time. I don't want a lesson in patience and endurance without complaint now. No, no, no!"

Third, bargaining. "Please, please, please, God! Just make my computer turn on this once. I need it. You know I need it for work, for staying in touch with my husband and friends, for my sanity. Please make it reboot. Please let me know what you want of me and I'll do it. Just let my laptop get past its grey screen of death."

Fourth. Despair. *sob* "Why?! Why oh why? It's not fair, God. You take away my husband. You take away my health (I had a stomach flu and mild case of malaria at the time) and now you take away my only means of communication with the outside world. I'm going to suffer in loneliness. I don't want to by like Job of the Bible." (At this point, my attitude was more along the lines of Job's wife, 'curse God and die', than anything).

Finally, Acceptance. "C'est la vie. What will be, will be. Everything will sort itself out in the end. I'll survive. Somehow I will manage."

Tumultuous thoughts such as these tossed around wildly in my mind. Back and forth. Just when I might think I had come to a full acceptance of my loss, another situation would present itself and I'd realise afresh how much I missed using my laptop.

How does one know when they've truly given their problem over to God and "let go". As the verse in 1 Peter 3:5 says, "cast all your cares upon Him for he cares for you." This sounds good in theory.
Or how about the popular saying, 'let go and let God'? When can one know they've actually truly and meaningfully 'let go'? Sometimes I think there is a rather extended period of give and take. Letting go and then grasping back at our problems - not quite sure we can fully trust God to handle the problem just yet. It is a process.

During this period of angst, I attempted every means possible to resurrect my Macbook and trick it into rebooting. At the local public internet cafe, I searched and found a blog about what to do when 'good Macs go bad'. I added some new terminology to the linguistic  centre of my brain. Terms like 'safe mode', 'verify disk and repair disk', NVRAM, along with a whole lineage of Mac feline operating systems: Mountain Lion, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion.. A regular jungle of Mac cats! Did  you know, there is even a computer code can typed, 'fsck-fy' -- it seemed rather appropriate at the time.

In spite of my best efforts at reanimation, my computer stubbornly remained in suspended animation - a persistent vegetative state - not quite alive but not dead either. "Mostly dead," as they say in the film, Princess Bride.

But mostly dead is for my intents and purposes, dead. My 'technological right arm', my 'second brain' is gone. A traumatic amputation.

My primary means of international communication is gone. My data bank of work files is locked away. My encyclopedia for looking up medical questions is frozen. My television screen for watching shows is finished. My library for reading books is closed...

I am sure you get my gist. It was a major operation. A significant disruption to my normal daily routine of life. It wasn't pretty.

The Bible says that if your 'hand causes you to sin; cut it off.' I am not going to say that my computer was causing me to sin although the thought did cross my mind somewhere within my Kubler-Ross grief striken state. I am still searching for meaning behind the whole fiasco though. My humanity is seeking to find a reason why. Perhaps that is human nature? I cope with loss by trying to find a reason behind it. I'm not looking for a silver lining but I find that seeking to find a reason is somehow comforting, perhaps. Loss without a reason or a purpose seems so much harder to accept, oddly.

Maybe one day I will look back and discover a reason. For now, I can only hope that the searching will lead to something positive. I wish my computer would start working again but I believe I have reached the point of a more steady acceptance. I don't identify with Job's wife anymore. I may not have the patience of Job yet but I feel more comfortable saying, 'the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord'.

I think about how intimately connected I was with my computer. Consider all the vital funtions it had in my day to day life. I used it multiple times a day. I connected with it for knowledge, entertainment, relationships, communcations, problem-solving, even just to tell the time of day sometimes. I logged onto my computer to read the news at least once, usually many times, in a day. My computer really was like an extra data storage memory bank. My 'second brain'. My life doesn't feel complete without my computer.

Today I read John 15. In that chapter, Jesus speaks about connecting to himself, the true Vine. "Remain united to Me and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:4

Perhaps instead of a vine, one could use the modern analogy of Jesus being the master computer. Like my computer used to be my access point to the world wide web, Jesus is my access point to all knowledge, heaven and His Holy Spirit. Jesus is my life. He should be such an integral part of my day to day life that I will go through withdrawal and grief, just like I did with my Macbook, if I am unable to connect and boot up with Him.

"Without Me [Christ] you can do nothing." John 15:5

I cannot function as smoothly without my Macbook. Life is inconvenient having to borrow another person's computer or use a public computer at the outside internet cafe. Life is inconvenient but not impossible. But, without my connection to Jesus, life is more than inconvenient; it's impossible.

"I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:11

'Unite to Me' -- connect to Christ. He is life. And, in that life, our joy can be complete.

I wonder if there is a Macbook heaven?