And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
(Hebrews 12.5-6, NLT)
The other day, before she and my dad returned to their Alternate Country, my mother said, “God must love you a whole lot.” She was talking about the car accident and the veterinary bills and all the other crazy things, big and small, that I’ve been experiencing lately. I’m pretty sure most people who aren’t part of the evangelical Christian community would look at her statement and the context and at the very least say, “Huh?” (Correct me if I’m wrong.)
The above verse, and the passage it’s quoting in Proverbs (not to mention the whole Son-of-God-gets-crucified thing), kind of back up her point, though. And she wasn’t being glib about it. She wasn’t trying to make me feel better. I think we were both, in that moment, wishing maybe God would just decide to ignore me a little bit. As Theresa of Avila (I think) told God, if this is how He treats His friends, it’s no wonder He doesn’t have more of them. Or it’s a wonder He has as many as He does. Or something like that. I’m not trying to make light of God’s discipline here. It’s just that it’s hard for me to see those verses as “encouraging words.”
None of the stuff I’m wrestling with is earth-shaking. I need to buy another car now, but Oscar and I are physically fine. I have to pay a co-pay for my annual MRI now, but at least (as far as I know) I haven’t got cancer anymore. The trouble is, I’m kind of getting sick of it all the same. I’m reading the book of Job these days, and even though I’m not sitting in the dirt scratching myself with broken ceramics, I kind of feel like i might as well be. I feel like, to use gambling-esque instead of churchy terms, I just can’t catch a break. I’m tired of everything being so hard all the time. I feel like I got tricked into playing this game, and I’m losing, and I want to back out of it, but I’m not allowed to, so I’m just going to keep losing and losing and losing until the Game-Master says I’m out.
I know. That is a very unorthodox view of God. It’s the kind of thing my agnostic friends posit, and I’m not saying they’re right but I am saying it’s what it feels like right now. I feel like a mini-Job who already knows that at the end of my ranting, God is going to show up and say, “Hey! But guess what? I’m God! And you’re not!” Then I will “despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42.6). It will be sincere, but right now I just feel tired knowing that that is going to be the end of it. I haven’t wanted to really fight with God since probably 2005, and I was kind of hoping (mostly because I didn’t get mad about having cancer) that I had reached a new plane of maturity in my relationship with God and didn’t need to fight with Him anymore. I was hoping I could just take whatever He threw at me and trust Him and be all saintly and Mother-Teresa or 19th-century-missionary about it or something.
Evidently, though? I’m not.
I was talking to the Matchmaker again today and even though he doesn’t quite have the same understanding of God that I do, he’s really good at taking what I say about my faith and talking about it in a way that uncovers its logical conclusion. He suggested that God and I needed to go into couple’s therapy. This idea has actually already been made into a book (which I have yet to read, but I want to). After he said this, though, I thought about it and decided that God and I need to go on a weekend getaway together. I’m not sure how to make this happen at this point, but I think we just need to go somewhere, without the computer, without the iPhone–just a journal, a Bible and maybe a box of paints (and watercolour paper). I haven’t tried to connect with God like this in a long time, and I feel like I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying about any of this car/dog/health/seminary/income stuff.
I’m so overwhelmed with it all, I almost don’t care what He has to say. I’m sick of dealing with this stuff, and I’m sick of dealing with it alone, and I’m sick of having to editorialise the “alone” comment in my head and for all my Christian friends so they know that I know I’m not really alone, because God is with me of course, but come on people. You know you want a person you can see and hear and touch in your life, too. I don’t want to go away and get alone with God because I’m angry at Him and don’t want Him to touch me. But part of me knows I need to, just to have it out with Him again . . . and He can remind me He’s God, and I can repent in dust and ashes . . .