I lie in bed looking up at the summer night sky, watching the trees titter back and forth, giving off a breeze much like that from the cheap hand held fans I played with as a child. Here, in the land of the midnight sun, darkness only comes in the deep of the night and lasts a few scant hours. My mind drifts to thoughts of God as I watch the trees sway their hips.
“I've been fighting against how other people think God works.”
“Fighting against how I think God should work.”
I don't know how God works.
My belief shrunk down to just one sentence that is both manageable and unmanageable, too.
It is a start.
I remember a conversation, over 20 years ago, with this woman, where she’s telling me about the long ago death of her one year old little girl; a much desired sister for her teenage daughter. She seeks my eyes with her own, as only one mother to another would, as she tries to explain what happened. Her sentences are peppered with - “I didn't know” and “if only” as she tells me of an undetected simple infection that led to her daughter's death.
Is this how she came to believe that God is in control of everything? Did she need to in order to be able to lift her head off the pillow every morning to attend to her other children whose ages, 13, 12, 11 and 10, descended like steps on a staircase? I don't know her well enough to ask. We've only ever talked at each other.
I think of her lying in her bed wrestling with these things. Wondering how long her darkness lasted. I know her daughter died in the winter time, where there are but few hours of daylight.
A little spark of compassion ignites within me for her.
It's a start.
It's a start.
“Like Christ, after his resurrection, we will carry on our bodies and into the rest of our lives the scars of the hurts done to us. Maybe one day they will become signs of our humanity and of our covenant moments with God. We will look at them and remember how we have been rescued. But for the moment, all we know is we are a work in progress, held in the hands of God. Our redemption has not yet been fully realized, but we lean into the love that leads us, and all, to the fullness of life.”
~ Monty Williams, SJ, Stepping into Mystery, p. 313
Okay. If I wasn't sure yesterday, you have me convinced. I have got to get a copy of this book. The journey is different for each of us, I think, all of individual in our identity as it has come to us. My own walk with Him has not been so much searching for understanding of Him as it has been a matter of understanding me, dealing with mentality forged from childhood. Christianity, in its "fullness", is learning that He accepts all of us in our "brokenness", meeting us where we are, going with us in the next step. No one is more important to Him than another. All are equally held in His heart....
When I was at my lowest and felt that everyone had abandoned me including myself and my God I did think of Christ.
In those final moments when he must have felt alone and abandoned by everyone. This made me think no one is beyond that it is a human condition to question why me.
I don't see the Bible as literal like I was taught but as examples to live by. The sacrifice we make and the trials that go with them.
The answer I found for myself is there is no answer I have to let go.
I feel like I am taking a big risk to post this, but I am going to... and please know I am sharing my own experience, not suggesting it would be right for you:
I had no idea how God worked until I studied the Bible. I had always thought the Bible, especially the OT, was full of a mean God. But when I came to it as an adult, and really studied it, all I saw was God's compassion and mercy. I hadn't realized how messed up most of the OT "heroes" were. And God was able to work with them, those were the people he chose to do his work! That gives me so much hope.
Oh, Mary Christine - t hank you for taking the risk - I welcome anything you have to add to the conversation because of how deeply I respect you and your journey.
I didn't come to faith until I sobered up and it felt like the biggest risk because I decided God had to be merciful and compassionate otherwise I wouldn't have given Him a chance because I knew how badly I would screw up this journey and if I believed He was a menacing God then I wouldn't have have the courage to jump into His arms.
I don't know why the suicide of my friends (and there's been another in the past few weeks) has tilted my world so sideways when it comes to God. I am struggling to find my way back.
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