We all have bad things happen to us in life. When that happens some of dig deeper into a relationship with God. Some of us just let God go. They can’t believe that a loving, caring God could let bad things happen. Some are very angry at God and doubt his existence. This is a ‘both and” (see below) in that if you don’t believe in God how can you be angry at him?
I can understand this as the problem of terrorism, murder, rape, and other acts of violence do make us ask questions. This question has been kicked about in major theological circle for centuries. Some thinkers have tried to explain it but I don’t think that anyone has ever done it.
There are some things that we will never understand. I don’t know that I want a God who can be totally explained by someone. God is so very far beyond our very small minds. I don’t have any problem understanding that.
To accept this God we sometimes have to accept two things that are opposite each other but both are true. For me this is called both and. It can be called an oxymoron and there are some simple examples of this such as “found missing’ or “alone together.” We don’t have any problem with those but the problem of a loving God who allows pain is difficult to swallow.
I can’t explain it. For some reason I don’t feel that I have to…at least not to shore up my faith.
What is your take on this?
“Until you dig deep you only know a small part of the human heart.” Another quote from “Tea Time for the Traditionally Built” By Alexander McCall Smith. His books about Botswana have much wisdom in them.
We can’t know everyone really well. It’s not possible. In most cases we don’t even try to. We only see the outside…the piece that people show to us. Too often we all are wearing masks and don’t want to let anyone in. It is difficult to get beyond the mask. Sometimes we can’t.
Sometimes there are people who drive us crazy…people who get on our last nerve. We can hardly bear to be around them. Then someone tells us that they spend all their time caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. And lo! we realize that the person who seemed so awful to us was too stressed, anxious and tired to be nice.
We had to dig deep to find out what it is like where the heart lives. We have to be willing to be the caring person. We have to open ourselves to the idea that there may be something in their life to explain how they act.
I have met a lot of people in my life. Some of them I never wanted to see again. I may have been right about some but I also may have been wrong. I didn’t take the time to find out. I hope someone else did.
I have been listening to an audio book by Alexander McCall Smith from the No1 Ladies Detective Agency series( Tea Time for the Traditionally Built). I love these books and the audios are so well read I think I am there.
The main character had blister on her foot from walking. She had that day put several band aids on it and it had now popped and felt better. She thought to herself (my rendering)”If we will just do what we can about a problem to fix it and move on after that things will work out.”
This thought really resonated with me. We spend a lot of time worrying about a problem and trying to make a decision. In the meantime the problem continues. If we would just determine what can be done and do it we would be ahead of the game. The other piece of the puzzle is that once we have done that we have to let it go. That is also very difficult. We would rather pick it up and chew on it again like a cow chewing a cud. Somehow we have to learn and implement these important things.
- Identify the problem.
- Decide if anything can be done.
- Determine the best solution (for now).
- Do what we can.
- Let it go.
This is hard for those of us who obsess and worry. Can you do what is possible and then move on?
Today I read my daily meditation from Richard Rohr. In it he said “At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others.”
I have found this to be true in my own life. As I have said before I was raised Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist. It didn’t take me long to decide that since each one was a little different in perspective that none of them could be completely right. I honor that eclectic background as it made me have lots of questions and be open to differing answers.
I hope I don’t offend anyone with this story but it was something that gave me pause as a child.
I attended a Baptist church with my best friend off and on. Each week they had an altar call and people went to the front rail to profess their belief and “be saved.” After a while I noticed that there were some people who went to the rail each week. This raised the question for me “can you be saved more than once and what exactly does it mean?” I must have been about ten or eleven when I was struck by this.
Other incidents in the various churches brought questions to my mind and formed my early theology. It made me very clear on one point. There is a lot more that connects us than divides us. We often make a big fuss about the differences and forget that as we are all Christian we should be united under the same God.
To take this thought one step further in college I had the opportunity to study other religions in depth and I found that some of them accepted the same deep principles that my faith has. Again I was broadened by the idea.
I wish that we could all concentrate on the things that make us alike instead of the things that separate us. I wish that each faith and denomination could see the big picture instead of the tiny details. Our world would be so much better.
This struck me as being profound and encouraging. I heard it somewhere else and then found it. Sometimes when something comes to an end we feel a let down. Something is over. We don’t think ahead and see that something new is beginning. We may not know what it is or when it will begin but it is there. Each time we start something we are beginning at the end of something else. It is a sort of circular thinking.
In the past year I have struggled with where life was taking me. Something 20 years long and fruitful was ending and I couldn’t see the beginning of anything else. Now I realize that the ending was but the beginning of a new journey. One that would teach me much about myself and force me to spend time with me. Not something I really enjoy doing.
Now I am in a different place. I still have a journey ahead of me and a lot more to learn. I have turned loose of the desire to be “out front,” I had always needed this to counter my sense of unworthiness. Hubris still rises from time to time but I am learning to push it back down. Anxiety can still attack but I am better at fighting it. I don’t always win but learning takes time. I have learned much from hearing the stories of others.
Each day is a new beginning. It is the end of the old day. Change can happen.
I am reaching the point where I don’t know if I have shared this before but if so here it is again. This was written when my job at the church was ended.
I have the healing in my hands
From the heart of God
I can choose to heal
The healing of God
Flows through me
Seeking hurt, pain, grief
God is willing to allow
Me to direct the light
To those in need
Can I learn to use the light
To see the hurts
That are in others
And in me?
I know I want to heal others
For I see their hurts
Exposed by the light
For I direct the light
Outward to others
From the depths
Of my soul
But can I learn to direct
The light inside
To heal the pain
It is necessary to look inside to see our own pain. The pain we have experienced helps others.
Today for the first time in forever I feel a sense of accomplishment. I only have one more day of major work to get the vines out of the azaleas. There actually is a light at the end of the tunnel. Then I can get back to routine house and yard work. Seems appropriate since it is now August.
Some of my stressors have eased. My friend, whose husband died, is coping and I will keep close as she grieves. My friend, whose husband in hospitalized, is hanging on but the stress of this long term up and down has stretched her to her limit. Long term anxiety with no let up causes so many physical problems. Staying at an adrenaline high is not good for our body and after the stress is reduced it is a long time recouping. I worry about her and her own health.
She has little time for the things that can hold us together: time out, meditation, time with friends, a break day, or something fun. She is devoted to her husband and spends each morning at the hospital. By the time she leaves to go home (usually around 1 pm) she is exhausted and just wants to rest.
It would not be surprising to experience symptoms of PTSD when faced with unceasing stress. Each of us has struggled with anxiety and know the toll it can take.
I have tried to find things to help. We invite her to lunch often as she is too tired at night but she is usually tired and just wants to go home. I speak with her every day and have offered to take her place at the hospital. I would like to think of something to help break the monotony of her life and find something to help. I plan to take some art supplies to her as she likes to paint and draw.
If anyone has any suggestions please pass them on.