Saturday, October 27, 2007

Processing the Purple Martyrdom 3

I finished Irina's amazing book, Grey is the Color of Hope, just before noon today…the boys are visiting Grandma and Grandpa today…and have a few more comments to share. I am, however, unwilling to share too much. It is important to read the book and experience it for yourselves.

And I can see that this will be a book to be added to the few that I read again and again, every few years. I have decided that this is a book for my eldest son to read. Irina’s horrific story is told gently enough not to be too overwhelming to my soon-to-be-teenager. And we have been struggling somewhat with the concept of need versus want…as well as the importance of the three brothers sticking together and loving one another.

What I find most striking about the “subversives” in Irina’s Small Zone is that as they engage in their hunger and work strikes, they do not judge those who do not participate, nor do they do physical damage to other people or their property. Their own bodies and possessions bear the brunt of the weight of their convictions—willing to suffer as doves and serpents. Harmless as doves, yes, but clearly as clever as serpents. “Heaping burning coals on their heads,” indeed!

If the Purple Martyrdom is the embracing of any and all weakness in order to be able to experience God's strength, then the willingness to view "annoyances" through different lenses presents a number of challenges to daily life.

Here’s an example of one of our more mundane issues that slapped me right in the face.


Dandelions? What?!

Yes, dandelions—those scourges of our well-manicured lawns. But also that most favorite bouquet from child to mother. And the source of so much running and blowing and squealing with delight as the tiny seed parachutes catch the wind and go on their way…mostly into the pristine yard of the neighbor….

The women in the Small Zone, as I mentioned previously, were not allowed a vegetable garden. They were also not allowed medicine. But as they quietly cultivated a variety of flowers, with illegal vegetables and herbs and other sources of nutrition hidden amongst them, they awoke one day to witness the arrival of a miracle—dandelions!

One of the older women had long taken to “…studying every blade and leaf growing in our small patch of earth, just in case it had any medicinal properties.” Considering the lowly dandelion, she “…had long known that there is hardly a more useful plant on earth.” This resourceful woman used every part of those “weeds” to enrich their lives, saying: “These plants are our lifeline.” (All references found on p. 262.) many times tears of shame have welled up in my eyes as I pondered their perspective in the midst of their pain...God have mercy on me.

What potentially precious, even life-saving, “dandelions” are you whining about, digging up, or poisoning in your yard? Lord, give us eyes to see your provision of grace, whatever our circumstances.

I’m still processing this…and thinking, especially, of Romans 8:28: "We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan."

[New Life Version (NLV) Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International]


Brad said...

Peggy - I'm still processing your processing! But as just some initial thoughts, I do find your idea of Purple Martyrdom an intriguing complement to the others.

Regardless of type, all four martyrdoms require us to risk the difficulties of persevering through suffering and seeing God transform it into something redemptive. No one form of martyrdom alone can "fill up the fullness of Christ's sufferings," as Paul talks about. But each gives a deep-dreg taste of what He endured as we drink in whatever the Father's loving providence offers. Which means, in part, we don't necessarily get to pick the kind of martyrdom; it's "marked in our horizon" (Greek: pro-orizo, predestined - marked out in advance), but our choices are still real.

Anyway, it seems to me that each kidn of martyrdom also calls on us to optimize a different dimension in a paradoxical way ... say, a unique opportunity for witnessing to the magnetic pull of truth in the midst of a society or situation that repulses it (Red), for facing up to and putting off the old nature and putting on the new (Green), for feeling the elation of offering a heavenly home to others as we simultaneously feel the anguish of having left our earthly home (White), and of allowing our weaknesses and brokenness to "enable" a demonstration of God's strength instead of allowing our own strengths to disable us (Purple).

Thanks for bringing another opalized aspect of that truth to light, Peggy. Is it possible there are other categories/kinds of martyrdom that should surface in such a time as this?

AbiSomeone said...


I so agree with your sentiment:

"Which means, in part, we don't necessarily get to pick the kind of martyrdom; it's "marked in our horizon" (Greek: pro-orizo, predestined - marked out in advance), but our choices are still real."

It's the choices that I'm beginning to focus on. Somehow we have allowed our choices to be made narrower and others tell us what to believe and think and do....

And to your question: "Is it possible there are other categories/kinds of martyrdom that should surface in such a time as this?" I am fairly certain that there are...

I feel the 4th post on this topic coming on....

Thanks for processing with me; your companionship on this journey means so much.

Be blessed,

Brad said...

ummm ... i think i just invented (identified?) a fifth kind/color, over on Rickard's blog. if you get killed over worship music, it's Blues Martydrom ...

sometimes i am a very bad boy ...

AbiSomeone said...

Brad, Brad, Brad....don't you know that Blue and Red make Purple?


Anonymous said...

I love your post Peggy. I also better understand what you were saying on Alan's blog about anger.

You helped me to see my own sin which I am deeply grateful for. There was a time I would have rather died than to be a member of the church. Convincing myself that I only need Jesus and wanting to desperately go home. A self made martyr, how pitiful.

I thought I had crucified that part of myself, yet, she keeps trying to be resurrected. Thank you for reminding me how falliable we are.

I use to think this new heart of mine was to complicated and I'd never understand it. How cool God guides it by using His church in so many wonderful ways.


AbiSomeone said...


What a treasure it is that God has provided so many companions for the journey, eh?

It is a life-long struggle to live in Christ and remember that our old life is dead.

Just remember who you are, precious sister, Kingdom princess! I find that when I remember who I am, my actions are more consistent with that reality.