Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Sound of Settling

I have not done a good job at making peace with my vocation and the fact that it makes me feel like I'm becoming a completely different person, one that I don't even like. One of my former students when I taught high school saw me today and said to her Mom who works with me, "Mr. Marshall doesn't look happy anymore". I've heard my oldest daughter say similar things to me. On the outside it appears I'm giving off sounds of settling. Settling for a life disconnected from my heart and gifts. Settling for letting others use me in their own pursuits of pride and greed. I never wanted to settle for anything short of the dreams and passions on my heart but I feel trapped and I admit I'm losing hope in it all. Settling says this is all there is, it doesn't get better and the sooner you wake up to that fact the better off you'll be. Settling sucks.

Above is one of my favorite pics of my lost friend, Palmer. I still miss him so much. He wouldn't have let me settle, he never did. He lived his life on purpose and in simplicity. His life was his art, it was quite beautiful. It was a life I felt was worth fighting for. I longed, prayed and fasted for his healing. I never believed in his death until i left his coffin and even then I still wasn't giving up but it was for naught. Either God has some master plan he doesn't feel like telling us or I lost that fight. Both answers as you can see haven't left me with much peace about it all. I'm sure its connected to all the other disappointments and shattered dreams I'm wrestling with.

I took that pic of Palmer, it was on Cuthbert Island off the North coast of England. In the background was the ruins of the ancient Abbey and behind us was the coast at low tide. We sat with our Irish pints and journaled on that day and in that place. I remember that being a day that my heart was fully alive, not as it is now. If I would have known then that Palmer had cancer, I would have prayed over him in all those ancient holy places. Rather, we just enjoyed what we had and although I'm severely disappointed with the outcome, I'm thankful to have those days and the memories of the adventure with him.

Palmer never settled for the death of his 1st wife, Jennifer. He held out hope for her until the very end. I really have never seen anything quite like his faith. And then for himself to be diagnosed with cancer, suffer greatly and leave this life with the same disease is quite puzzling. But he never lost hope, he never settled for anything less than a resurrection and that's what I prayed for him. I wonder if he can pray resurrection for me tonight? I don't have a freakin' clue where to turn or what to do, so I will ask Palmer wherever he is sleeping tonight to pray for me. He wouldn't listen to the sounds of settling, here's to hoping he'll help me not to listen either.



Steve said...

Thanks for your post brother. In your honesty I find some hope. I've had a couple of long time friends make the same observation about me recently that your former student made about you. It’s going on a few years now and I feel I’m at a crossroad of decision but am at a lost as to what that decision should be. I know the Lord understands and I am doing my best to trust Him in the midst of this confusion. Sometimes though, my words ring so hollow to me and I feel like I’m hanging by a thread, but deep in my heart I do trust Him and the groan from that place is that His will be done in my life.

Marsh said...


amen and amen, all that's left is a groan and I'm just glad that I'm not alone. i trust Him, but I don't understand the silence.

Pat said...

I'm tearing up out here. Partly because I to am fighting the tendency to settle for 'reality'; mostly because of my friendship-by-proxy with Palmer and Chad and all y'all.

Christ's grace and peace, Marsh.

Steve said...

I am sitting in my office, here in Nor Cal, just wanting to thank you in some small way for posting this. Settling Sucks... That's true. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes we get so comfortable with it, because it happens so slowly, we don't even know it's upon us. Thank God others see it.

I work with abused children and when i get lost or stuck I look on my wall... about a foot away from where I am typing and I read this:

"When it seems that hopelessness is the least appropriate response in any situation, let it rise up even more. Whisper your hope when you lie down at night; scream your hope when you wake in the morning. Live your hope as if it is the one and only thing that sustains you in this ravaged world. You will not be disappointed."

Palmer and you... though we havn't met, help me not to settle.
Tonight I'll have a pint with all you in mind...
Steve, in nor cal

Timothy said...

WOW! Steve, I just about posted that same quote from Palmer yesterday. But I "settled" in my doubt and just let the moment pass. Glad someone was, it seems, not just hearing but obeying the Lord to post that for Marsh.

Marsh, looking at the picture you posted it made ME want to go back in time and be there in that moment, in that setting with you and Palmer. I can only imagine what you may give to go back and see, smell, taste, hear that precious moment just one more time.

I never met Palmer, haven't met you, yet I have been resurrected as a result of both of your postings on the Internet. Palmer raised me to Elpida, you have raised me to new perseverance. Hope in the Resurrection, perseverance to be a violent man and seize the Kingdom by force.

Yes, I have been settled for most of my life and still am in large parts of it. But I have hope in the determination in you and that was in Palmer to NEVER GIVE UP! Your settling isn't giving up, it is your refining fire. Your resurrection from it will be glorious. At least that is what I think.


Marsh said...

brothers, I am incredibly honored to be on this journey with you and although its dark and confusing at times, part of elpida is not being alone. i'm really blown away by each of your words here, quite thankful to be w/ y'all.

Jody said...

thanks for reading my mail and translating it back into something I can understand and apply. prayers for us all.

Andrew Mullins said...

We've never met, but I've been following your blog for several years- somehow found it linked among the Landing Place stuff.

Almost four years ago, I rolled into Columbus, my life falling apart, crashing on my sister's couch. I was desperate, broken, lost, confused- my life in shambles. I got online looking for a safe haven, found Landing Place, and the next day sat in Grandview having coffee with Palmer. He was a giant of a man, with a heart bigger than the world. His compassion swallowed me whole. Over the next few months, he saved my life. He took me in, counselled me, cried with me, encouraged me, loved me. I left town and headed back home to try to fix things just before he married Amy. Our last meal together, he shared about some health concerns he had. We prayed. The rest I had to follow from too far a distance.

I guess what I want to say is this: I never felt like I had the chance to repay Palmer for the love and life he put into me. It's one of my greatest regrets, so much so that even now, typing this, I can't stop crying. I'd really love to commit to pray for you, if that would be cool. Everyday, your name written on my hand, taking you before God and asking for peace, wisdom and light for your life. I know it can't repay Palmer for what he put into me, but I really feel like it might be a start.

Bless God and keep it simple-
Andrew Mullins