I tossed and turned last night. I have tendonitis in my left shoulder, strep throat, a mouth full of sores as a result of that and had a fall out with a friend I love dearly. I’ve been so sick I can’t even muster up the strength to cry, and while I haven’t cursed God, the thought of all of it coupled with the fact that I am back to work almost full time was enough to almost send me over the edge.
I though of Job, which seems so basic and contrite. He suffered so much more than me. Disease, loss of children and food- He lost everything. I tried to play the Christian martyr by telling myself it couldn’t get worse, but as the days went by and the trials piled up, I realized I was just not strong enough to bear it.
I don’t come from a Christian family and I don’t have a close circle of Christian friends. But I have found actually the opposite since I myself have become a Christian- a loving family who supports me and close agnostic or atheist friends who always seem to have the right words to say. This is perplexing to me. But it teaches me that prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the kingdom of God before some of us.
I am learning that calling ourselves Christians means absolutely nothing. That we hide in our bibles. That like Ghandi said so poignantly,
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
And so back to Job, my honorable martyrdom slowly dissipated as the pain in my body increased. I was unable to sleep, exercise or work in peace. I was sick of being sick and the bad things kept coming. Life still was going on, and my kids kept going as if nothing was going on at all. They reminded me of Ghandi’s quote, it reminded me of us.
So I tried to hate God last night and couldn’t, I tried to get mad at Him instead. But I realized that I had nowhere else to go and was over the asking of why God why. I was not wallowing in self-pity but perplexed by the pain and suffering of this life, it doesn’t feel good, I don’t want it. But this time I was able to recognize it for what it was, lean into it instead of away from it, and put my big girl panties on and just deal with it.
I’m sick of a Christianity that does not recognize Jesus, that is theologically based and not spiritually based, that presupposes that attending mass makes you a good Christian. The church can be a hurtful place- and I am not just speaking of the Catholic church, I am speaking of our ecumenical universal church. Where we listen to scripture week in and week out, then form our cliques, keep to ourselves, withhold forgiveness, and God forbid go out into the world and love people despite all of their faults and weaknesses. I wanted to jump off the ledge in my mind, but God even kept me from that.
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.
I asked my agnostic friend to send me a picture of his peaceful farm. It was the best part of my day. Because we are to see to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, except for the fact that my agnostic friend was extending grace to me by showing me my God.
If you’ve been in the same place, if you’ve disavowed your trials, if your friends are all Christians, you’re probably doing something wrong. If your forgiveness is conditional, if you don’t move, you’re definitely doing something wrong. I don’t know that I’ll ever learn to love my trials, but I don’t have to. God says I just have to endure them and be trained by it.
Stop sitting in the pew. It’s time to move…