I haven’t written since my mom died. Mom died. And still it just doesn’t slip off my fingers (off the tongue) without a fight. It doesn’t taste right. It’s just as wrong as it was yesterday and just as cruel was it was 6 months ago.
I’ve written a thousand posts since then in my head — “blogs” that rival Lamentations and half the Psalms — writings that put Job’s misery and bipolar faith to shame because, folks, it has been a particularly miserable year. When I say that 2014 has been bad…….bad just doesn’t cover it. Generally when I say that out loud someone rebuts with, “But the birth of your son!” Yes, I had a baby and there’s nothing I would change about that. He’s perfect. He’s beautiful. He’s amazing. My heart beats for him. He takes my breath away. But this isn’t a game of tally-marks as if the ultimate joy could blot out the terrible pain, the stress, the illness, the brokenness, the loneliness, the failure, and the crisis of faith that has developed in 2014. I want a mulligan on this year. Oh but if God could work in a one-time mulligan into life. I’ve got a whole lot of life yet to live (God-willing) but I’d go ahead and use it. I’d use it on this year.
Apparently I forget to knock wood. You know — that superstition that if you knock wood after you’ve said something, nothing will change that inevitable something. For example: “This year couldn’t get any worse, ” and then I forget to knock wood and then it does. Murphy’s law. Bad luck. All those things I don’t “really” believe in but I can’t help but think of right now. And then there’s that….
That. Man, there’s a lot of really good hopeful, peaceful, wonderful “stuff” I totally and completely, with all that I am, believe firmly in. I preach it and I teach it. I love it. It’s good stuff. It’s Gospel stuff. It’s all things good about a God that loves me — all things work for good for those who love Him…..know Him….. I don’t just believe these things, I know them to be true but OH MY GOODNESS. Oh. My. Goodness folks, I do NOT feel them right now. And that’s quite possibly the suckiest thing about our makeup. Anytime we go a good period of time without some carnal response to “truth” then you better believe the crisis of faith is on the way. I don’t “feel” God’s goodness. I can’t “see” God’s grace. I don’t “hear” God’s voice (and, for that matter, I doubt God hears mine.) Therefore everything I know to be true is teetering on the edge of a cliff named doubt, despair, danger.
There is not one pocket of my existence right now that isn’t some sort of challenge and nothing, NOTHING, is happening on a small level. I DO think of Job. He didn’t invest in stock and have one drop a few points here or there followed by a car hitting his beloved dog, and great Aunt Lucy had a fender-bender. All of Job’s crisis’ were HUGE. He lost his family, his farm, his money, the clothes on his back, and, in some ways, his friends who attributed what he did to some sort of fault of his. His pain wasn’t over small things and neither is mine. Family. Church. Health. Faith. Folks, that’s everything. That’s big. It’s constant. It’s sun-up to sun-down. It’s a lot of grief and only a little healing. It’s a lack of hope — not something I reccomend. It’s contrary to everything I believe and maybe that’s the hardest part. It’s blow after blow after blow and tears that rival the Nile River. It’s searching for joy and feeling like I’m wearing blinders. That is painful. That is Lamentations painful.
A friend recently put it into perspective for me. He said, “You’ve had a hell of a year. Pending a serious illness, you’ve had it all.” Ok, so, knock wood.
I’ve always thought that when you hit the bottom there’s no other way but up. I’m relatively certain that sometimes you hit the bottom, find a shovel, and are just expected to dig.
My mom was super-supportive of me reading when I was a kid and, like any good mom in the 90’s, she sent Judy Blume books my way. “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret.” Yep, I’ll never forget. I’m certainly thinking of that prayer right now. Are you there God? It’s me Sara. I’m still here….in a ditch…..digging. If digging is what you’d have me do right now, I’ve got it. But God, I’m up to my knees in dirt. It’s cold. It’s wet. There’s no food here (for my soul). There’s no joy here because it’s dark. But I’m faithful, still, and I know that though it doesn’t feel like you’re here, you are. And I’ll keep screaming to you, though I don’t feel you. And I’ll keep reaching for you, though I can’t grab you. And I’ll still beg you for grace, though I know I already have it. And I’ll still listen for guidance, though I can’t hear you. Are you there God? It’s me, Sara. Practicing faith until it’s ‘real’ again.