The past few days have been some of the hardest of my life. Nothing big has happened, I didn’t lose anyone, or anything. But I feel like I almost lost God. Or, well, He almost lost me. Well, wait, that still doesn’t work … I feel like I almost attempted to give up on God. I don’t know if I would have gone through with it. Actually, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have. God is so good about putting people in my life when I’m in these tough spots. People who speak truth to me, and who are willing to help me work through my emotions. People who don’t get scared when I question God, and question everyone’s perfect little theologies of Him. People like my friend Terri, my husband Erik, my friend Kelly and, most importantly in this little discussion, my Mom.
Here’s where I was at on August 26th. I was sitting in my favorite leather chair in our living room, scouring my well-worn Bible, that’s engraved with Kristin Miller—it was a high school graduation gift—and I’m looking for verses that speak to prayer. I found all the normal ones and wrote them in my journal. And after them I wrote a huge I DON’T GET IT. Because in that moment, I was so pissed. I was so confused. I was so done. Erik came home in the midst of this, and I started ranting, in a teary way, about how none of this makes sense to me. I handed him my journal and said, “I don’t get these verses.” And he kinda laughed, and said, “And you want me to explain them to you?” I could see the teasing in his eyes, because he didn’t yet get the personal torture I was putting myself through, and he was just seeing this as another way to prove that his Bible schooling is superior to my Bible schooling. I said yes, and watched his eyes drop to the page. The teasing left his eyes as he scanned the verses that I had listed. I had also underlined certain specific phrases.
1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find … For everyone who asks receives …
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
He dropped the journal and admitted he didn’t know. Neither of us spoke; we just looked at each other, and I of course, got teary. Because here’s where I was at in that moment:
I was remembering high school me, content to believe “Everything happens for a reason!”
I was recalling college me, content to believe “God has a perfect plan that He is working out even as we speak.”
I was recognizing that this was where I was currently:
To high school me: If everything happens for a reason, then why is this happening to me? Show me the reason, and I’ll deem whether or not it’s worth the pain.
To college me: If God has a perfect plan, and His plan involves me suffering like this and giving up on prayer, and doubting His close presence in my life, then what kind of perfect plan is that?
To all the other “me’s” that have been, and to those who think they have the answers:
If God is in control of everything and plans everything out, well, then, He’s being pretty mean allowing everyone in my life to be pregnant except for me.
If God is not in control and has chosen to limit His power in this broken, fallen world, and is sitting back, just as sad as I am about this suffering, well, then, He’s just not all that powerful is He?
If God really does operate like the book of Job suggests, allowing Satan to harm us to prove that we can be faithful to Him, well, then, where was my choice in the matter? Because today, I don’t feel like being the one that proves faithfulness.
If God is choosing to allow suffering in my life to reveal His glory in me, for some odd reason, well, then, sorry to yet again sound selfish, but I’d rather not play that role, thank you very much.
If God is changed by our prayers, and prayers are worth praying, well, then, has anyone been giving Him my messages? Because not just me, but probably hundreds of people have sent up prayers about this and nada.
And the biggy—if everything is set in motion, and God isn’t affected by our prayers, well, then, I’m out. I’m done. Because the prayers are just disappointing at this point.
Please know that I am very aware—nauseatingly aware—of how incredibly selfish, and bitter, and angry, and well, human all of this ranting sounds. But hey—guess what? I’m HUMAN! And I refuse to stuff my real, true emotions with some platitudes designed to make me sound like a good Christian girl.
I voiced this all to Erik, who is struggling with the same hurt and deep sadness and so obviously didn’t have any answers, and went about my day. My Mom called at one point, and I sobbed my eyes out over the phone. It had been a while since we’d talked, and I was in quite the turmoil, so my conversation with her was full of anger and bitterness and doubt and questions … and the overarching desire to quit. To give up. To latch onto my anger and run. Though I’m not sure how far one can actually run from God, when He’s ingrained into your very being and etched on the walls of your heart, but I sure thought that maybe I was going to try. I didn’t get very far with that idea though, because I had to get ready for a business trip. And off to Kansas I went. . .
(for the sake of length, the rest of this will be posted tomorrow-ish.)