A friend recently sent a note in which she commented on the lack of “why me?” talk on my blog. Silly girl – I was raised Catholic. I can think of at least 100 reasons all of this is my own fault right off the top of my head! That, plus the fact that life has been handing me inexplicably little help for as long as I can remember means that I let “why me?” go a long time ago. There are only two answers: “you’re doing it wrong” or “because this is the way you need to go“. Either I’m screwing something up and should fix it – hence the Catholic guilt – or this is one of those things that will only make sense later. Frankly, Catholic guilt gets a bad rap – it’s downright empowering in light of the alternative!
This was a tough week. It was one of those weeks where an emotional rough patch and a life rough patch collided and made a mess all over the highway of my life. (I keep telling God he needs to pave the damn thing.) And just to make sure that all of this doesn’t get to be too routine, my wonderful parents were visiting, so I had an audience. (My poor parents; I’m glad and grateful that they were here, but I know it’s only marginally more fun to watch someone you love go through things you are helpless to do anything about than it is to go through it yourself. I have to remind myself that God must have his reasons for asking them to walk a path which includes me and my mess of a life.)
If you read my book The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress, you will remember that I first met God in a fit of enraged blasphemy. Which means that I’ve always felt free to itch and moan and be as upset as I want to be in prayer. Besides, Jesus was said to have prayed with “loud cries and tears” himself. So by the end of the week, my prayers had devolved into demands: “I can’t do this. I’m not going to do this. You need to fix this. Not just spiritually, but for real. In the real world. This isn’t right. And besides, it’s not just me – I have all these kids. If it were just me, fine – but it’s not. You need to fix this right now. I’m not Joseph – I can’t wait 40 years for you to bring it all together. You won’t even help me figure out what to do – I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing! If I’m doing it wrong, just tell me – but that doesn’t mean I can even fix it. What am I supposed to do? Why won’t you just help meeeeeeeeee!” At which point, I’m like an overly dramatic, whiney emo-teen and I have to withdraw to pout a bit while the Spirit intercedes with “groanings too deep for words” before I end up with another tattoo and a facial piercing. (I have always wanted to get my eyebrow pierced, though. ;p )
But here’s what always happens; within the next 24 hours God shows me something that renews me. And inevitably, it’s something spiritual that fixes nothing here in the “real world”. It’s so irritating; like a spouse you have every reason to be mad at who does just the right thing to make you love him. Even though you don’t really want to. Sometimes I practically shout at God (come on – our prayers can have volume levels!): “You haven’t fixed ANYTHING!” But I’ve been renewed. God knows I’m going to be OK and so do I.
It’s almost like a big cosmic joke. Like I’ve agreed to play a game where I lose myself so completely that I’ve forgetten that it’s just a game. We’ll all sit around and laugh about it later. Gallows humor seems to be a genre that God is intimately familiar with, after all.
Every time God does this and I protest that he hasn’t fixed anything I get pretty much the same reaction – a little bit of God’s laughter and a little spark of joy. (See? I told you – irritating!) It’s not quite like being able to see through that veil between the physical and the spiritual, but it’s like God confirming that it’s there. It’s just a game. He’s protecting us from anything we can’t handle, but like all games, making it through isn’t always easy. It would be a pretty crappy excuse for a game if it was, I suppose. And so, as irritating and infuriating as it sometimes is, I’m forced to accept that it’s all going to be alright.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor death, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39