Posted by: nieophyte | November 22, 2007

When thanks comes slowly

While living in Wheaton, Ill., I had the most fantastic roommate named Susan. She was 63, single and a retired missionary. Everyday, she would wake up at 6:30 a.m. and read the Bible a little bit, sing praise songs with her ukulele and pray.

Around Thanksgiving, Susan would christen the year that was to pass with some sort of phrase that summed up the events of her life, such as “the year God revealed his love”, or “the year God blessed me with more”. All of these she would write down in her journal with the deliberate cursive of a person born in the 1940s, when penmanship was of paramount importance.

If I had the posterity to keep up a tradition like this, 2007 would go down as “the year of absolute hell”. In the past year, I have seen 3 friends lose a parent. I have mourned 5 unborn children. I have felt distant from everyone I love. I have felt the unbelievable high of fulfillment in the workplace and the abrupt pitch and fall of disappointment, of truths revealed, of innocence gone. I have loved and lost. I have failed in ministry. I have dried up. I have no more to give and yet demands keep building. I have sought God and found only silence. I have given up, and in giving up, I have given in.

Earlier in the year, I remember having the audacity to ask God to shake my world up. “My life is too boring,” I said. “Teach me to need you, because right now, needing you is way too easy.” The cartoon-like God in my head hears this ridiculous little prayer from his throne enveloped in clouds, thinks about it a little, shrugs, and then takes his ginormous index finger and dips it into my tiny sphere of life and stirs it around for a few minutes while saying, “Well, you asked for it!” I guess I did ask for it.

So for me, this thanksgiving is a mixed bag of emotions. Am I thankful for my family and friends and all the comforts and love they bring? Of course! But often, when people suffer, there is a tendency to cover the gaping sores of our hearts with some pat answer. “God is in the silver lining, don’t mind the thunderbolts!” or “No pain, no gain sister girl!” Why do we try so hard to explain away the pain? Instead, this thanksgiving, I will not rationalize my struggles with the other blessings in my life like food and comfort and family, because that would be an insincere resolution to the very real anger I feel against God. Instead, I will give myself the freedom to grieve and my hope is that in doing so, I will find a more complete healing.

That’s what I hope for, anyway.

till next time!
-nieophyte

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Responses

  1. Holy cow.

  2. Yeah, ditto, and I’m not even Hindu.

    On Sunday, during our sermon discussion, we talked about how it’s OK to deal with unbelief or strong frustration with God.

    I think too often we’re taught that we HAVE to believe.

    Cornelius?

    I don’t even know if this relates to your post. But it came to mind.

    Striking post, by the way.

  3. thank you.

    i too have decided to grieve and go through what has been and still is the hardest time in my life (so far) without trying to put on a brave face. i am so painfully aware of how weak i am. and even though i don’t hear God.. i know he’s there and i know he’s listening. i know he’ll heal me.

    thank you again for your post.

  4. props for the most honest (downright brutal) and well-processed thoughts I’ve heard in a long, long time.

    I’m definitely careful what you pray for… because sometimes the answer is… yeah…

  5. I say “YES!” to all of it. I think you should receive a large mansion in heaven for this post!

  6. The lament of a psalmist often seems to be bathed in an honest confession, a brave transparency, and a solid memory.

    I also appreciate the post.

    Keeping hoping
    keep remembering

    Shalom


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