Saturday, September 08, 2012

A God I Can't Figure Out

I see her number pop up on my phone while I'm talking to youngest son. I wonder why she is calling and decide to call her back later. She is an acquaintance - someone I see only when we are both involved in the same retreat like weekend. I haven't spoken to her on the phone for years.

I finish my conversation with youngest son and dial her number. Her rich slow voice greets me. She asks how I am and I try to tell her about my summer. She is quiet and thoughtful in response. She tells me that she must have been meant to call me so that she can pray for me and that the original reason she'd called would be best left for another time.

Her comment makes me grit my teeth. I envy her certainty about knowing how God is working and yet I don't want any part of it. I so thought I knew how God was working through this process and when my world came to a standstill I was humbled with how much I didn't know. It's left me feeling like I don't know anything at all. A God I can figure out is a God I don't want to serve. A God I can't figure out leaves me feeling vulnerable and raw.

The other day, when we were in the surgeon's office waiting room, we visited with a couple we hadn't seen in nearly 20 years. The last time we saw each other we were both busy chasing after toddlers. They sat across from us and shared about dealing with his colon cancer. He's facing a further 6 months of chemo after having gone through chemo, radiation and surgery. They were there that day to get the post op report from the same surgeon I was seeing. I watched as phrases flitted through my mind to say to him and discarded each one unsaid. I didn't want to inflict harm. I knew there was nothing I could say that would make any of it better.

It sounds like I have it all figured out, doesn't it? I pray I don't turn my new awareness into a different kind of ego grab. I continually fight that temptation.

I think of this when I am talking to the woman with the rich slow voice. It helps me let her comment stand instead of challenging her about it. There's a fine line between speaking my truth and inflicting harm. Later, as I lay in bed and mull over her certainty about why she figures she was meant to call me, I think about my own thirst for connecting the dots in life. I see it in my mind as a pencil on paper using a ruler to draw straight lines from one point to another. I think it must drive me batty when others do it because my hankering for it has been so strong.

When I used to work in a fast food restaurant and the owner wanted adverts hung in the windows, the rest of the staff would volunteer me. They knew his demand for perfection and mine were well matched. I happily measured the distance so that the signs in the windows were placed perfectly between its edges just like the owner wanted.

I'd like to believe that my desire for having my ducks all lined up in a row, literally or figuratively has diminished this summer. The thing about it is that my quest for answers, for drawing lines between life's circumstances and God has helped me feel in control. It feels futile now. I do know though, that sometimes life happens and we feel changed and then those feelings fade. I don't want to forget where I've been.

Last night Dearest One and I shampooed the living room carpet. We could write a script about how it will go. He doesn't do it quite the way I would and I point that out with every pass over the carpet he makes. Eventually he hands me the shampoo-er and I take over. When it happened that way last night we laughed at the repeat of a pattern that dates back over a quarter of a century when we first tried wallpapering a room together.

As I emptied out the containers of dirty water I realized that it really didn't matter how the room got cleaned. It was obvious from the brown swirl disappearing down the drain that the carpet would be cleaner when we were finished and after all, wasn't that the point?

I carried a clean container of water to the living room, dumped its contents into the shampoo-er, and handed control of the machine back to him. My way is just that. My way. Not the way.

Part of not forgetting where I've been is acknowledging I'm just as human as the lady with the rich slow voice.


Daisy said...

Oh man, I hear ya loud and clear.


Rebekah Grace said...

Loved reading this post! I appreciate your humility, struggle to keep harms words at bay, and not wanting a God you can understand. So glad to have found your words.

tina hunt said...

Powerfully insightful. I sure needed this reminder it was a little ouchie, but sometimes...too many times I need that. :)

Black Pete said...

Wow. Sounds like the God of my wilderness, too, Hopester. Don't ya just hate it when you get God's fingerprints all over you? Keep on truckin'.

annie said...

Gosh, I've missed a lot the last few days. That was the one thing I did not want to forget: where I'd been. But time passes and things seem to settle down and it's easy to forget. Yet, here I am, almost a year away, and facing another test to see if it has come back, and I am remembering where I was. Blessings on you in this journey, friend...