Image from http://www.livingbueno.com
For at least a week.
During the week, I intend to live as (demi-)atheistically as I can. I’ll probably fail since some knowledge of God has always been a part of my life, and intensive knowledge of God has been a habit for 12 years. What will change?
Unfortunately, not that much.
- I won’t be going to church this Sunday. I am not planning on oversleeping to miss it; I just will make a purposeful decision not to go.
- I will still be reading the devotional plans on my iPhone, courteously provided for free through YouVersion. But since I’m spiritually struggling, they’ve been nothing but words on a page.
- Not actively praying. My prayer life is minimal at best (maybe a formal prayer once a week?) so it looks like I’m not changing my habits much. Besides, I’ve been praying for various things (and for various people) for a while now and none of those prayers have been answered. Why bother?
Insight into this decision can probably be gleaned from my last post, “Day 32 of Enjoying God: Faith (or lack thereof).” But I do have a few more reasons as to why I’m making a conscious decision to (kind of) stray away from my faith for a week. Read more…
If you’re reading this, you probably have no idea how difficult it has been for me to write this series during the past two weeks. I’m contemplating changing the title to “Not Enjoying God.” (Not really, but that’s how I’ve been feeling recently.)
My faith right now is a little shaky. When it rains, it pours. For example, my husband and I are in the midst of being financially drained with this car (and soon, a new[er] one). My husband feels upset, angry, and isolated as if God doesn’t really care. I keep trying to have faith, keep trying to defend that God really is there but really… I’m starting to lose hope myself. There are other issues that pile on top of this that begin to make everything seem very overwhelming.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re not suffering from the worst afflictions in the world: my mother doesn’t have terminal cancer; I don’t have a 4-year-old daughter who drowned in a pool; and none of my immediate family members have been raped (to my knowledge), shot, or killed in a car accident.
But life is life. And there are various issues that I carry in my head and my heart that sometimes make me break down and cry about how unfair everything is. And I pray and pray, hoping that God will hear and rectify the situation but He doesn’t. It’s as if He gives me a polite pat on the back with an unsympathetic smile and tells me to “keep on’ keepin’ on.”
It’s tough to keep my eyes focused on the eternal when the temporal is so damn shitty. I have older friends who desire marriage but God hasn’t brought a potential spouse into their lives; it’s possible He never will. I have friends who desire children and He has repeatedly closed the door on their being able to conceive or adopt. I know people who are looking for a permanent job that will pay the bills and give them some decent health coverage but feel as though they are fighting against a riptide that will soon take them under.
These prayers are part of the mundane but they are ones that have gone on for years. God is God and He can do whatever He wants but it would be nice if He could just answer a few prayers:
- Give a job with benefits to the woman who just had an emergency hysterectomy so she’s not on the hook for all those hospital bills.
- Help the family keep their house from foreclosure because they were able to make their mortgage payments just fine until a round of pay cuts were doled out.
- Make that fertility treatment work for the couple that’s been trying to have a child for 6 years so they’ll finally be able to realize their dream of expanding their family.
I’ve seen God answer my minor prayers. Something as trivial as catching a subway train so I don’t stand out in the cold for an extra 5-10 minutes. Why is He holding out on the bigger ones? I can’t help feel like I’m just a dumb pawn in God’s big chess game:
“Move here, move there. Oops, you shouldn’t have gone there. Here, let me kill you off. In fact, let me just exterminate the whole lot of you.”
“Haha, you! Miserable down there? Want to die? No, I think I’ll just keep you alive and torture you for a bit.”
I believe there’s a God all right, but I’m starting to think He’s really damn cruel no matter what the Bible says.
Image from canbelievable.com
I’m not talking about Holy Eucharist or Lord’s Supper communion. I’m talking about all that sweet fellowship pious Christians like to go on and on about. When was the last time you had communion with the Lord?
Merriam-Webster defines “communion” as “an act or instance of sharing.” Communion is also defined as “intimate fellowship or rapport.” (M-W suggests also looking up communication.) I can’t remember any recent time when I’ve been consistent in my communion with God other than, oh, 10 years ago?
I’m currently in the process of revising my novel to make my main character more complex. She is challenged to have communion with God by another character, but she is in a place of deep hurt, anger, and resentment against God. She rails on the Lord:
I’m feeling angry. I’m feeling hurt, and I’m feeling abandoned. God is love, God is just, blah, blah, blah. God doesn’t give a shit about me or my family. … He hated José, he hates me, and he hates my family. If He really cared, José would’ve lived. If God really cared about me or what I think, He would’ve answered the countless prayers I have made in the past three years. God doesn’t listen. God doesn’t care.
My character doesn’t realize it, but that still counts as communion with God. She is not only telling other people in the room how she feels, but she’s expressing her angst and frustration to God.
In writing my novel, I am reminded that communion with God doesn’t need to come from a light, fluffy place. God doesn’t need a fake “oh, thou dear heavenly Father that created the sun, moon, and stars to shine”; God wants to hear where I genuinely am right now. And if I’m angry, hurt, upset, or frustrated with Him or at life in general, that’s what I should share with Him.
Communion with God can be very sweet fellowship with words of praise or gratitude. But communion with God can be a time of pouring out your heart to Him in a way that you would never express to anyone else. This is true intimate fellowship.
Image taken from http://www.educol.net
I had a hard time trying to enjoy God today. I spent most of the day depressed, teary, and angry at God.
But I do love snow. I know, I know the Northeast has really been hammered this year but the awe and wonder of snow never fails to delight me. I feel like a 5-year-old every time I see a snowflake. And when I heard thundersnow, I thought to myself, Well, if that don’t beat all…
My husband worked from home today as I ran back and forth on the emotional treadmill of my hormones. He played a wonderful role as comforter in the best way he could. Although my issues make me feel isolated and alone, my husband was a reminder that he was there to comfort and console me through the grief I experience in life.
I know God does that. I know God can do that. I just wasn’t able to enjoy Him that way today.
So I’ll take snow today.
I never thought about creativity as a way to enjoy God but why not? Since I believe that God is the creator of all things, I also believe He’s the ultimate source of all things creative.
For example, God has shown Himself to be a spectacular artist in nature who constantly receives rave reviews and an eloquent writer (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) through men.
So why would it be odd for me to enjoy one of the gifts that God gave me with the written word?
Today I had a rare burst of creativity. I got to to work on revising my manuscript, totally revamping the voice and attitude of my main character. I’m happier with Chapter 1 than I’ve ever been since I first wrote the novel in November 2007. And I owe it all to God. I recognize that the same God who painted beautiful sunrises and sunsets with various shades of color can also impart to me the ability to craft beautiful scenes with varying degrees of intensity. I’m thankful for the days when creativity flows from my brain to my fingers and onto the computer screen without intensive thought. (Writer’s block is a bear and something I hope not to experience anytime soon.)
Of course, I always discover these things about God just before midnight—the deadline for my daily posts. Maybe one day I’ll learn something about God (and post it) before 7 in the evening.
I’m not unpredictable to God, but He’s unpredictable to me.
While I had a fantastic weekend, in many ways it was frustrating. Electronically, I felt cut off from a lot of things (including my daily posting on this blog), and I also experienced several reminders that NY is no longer my home.
A lot of things happened in the past 5 days that I did not expect: agents to actually be interested in my book, to get practical and worthwhile tools out of the conference, for a very scary online agent to be so amazingly funny.
I also didn’t expect to have migraines for Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend taught me (and life continues to remind me) that my world is unpredictable. God will not have everything go according to MY plan. Things go according to HIS. God, the sovereign creator of all things, designed my tear-filled moments, created the situations in which I became frustrated, and gave me the strength to get up and memorize a 90-second pitch in an entire morning.
One way for me to try and enjoy God is to just go with the flow of life: adapt to the disruptions of life, change the planned road map to match the ground, and recognize that God is at work behind everything, orchestrating things for my good (not necessarily my happiness) and for His glory.
Today, as I was driving around town in my mother’s car I felt very nervous. Since I don’t normally drive my mother’s car, I felt very uncomfortable and insecure about my driving. But as I drove around today, I felt like God was lining everything up in my favor. Whenever I was nervous about switching lanes or pulling out of a parking spot, I had plenty of room to maneuver or no traffic around me. (For a nervous driver, I had all the best conditions for driving safely!)
I know the whole idea of “favor” sounds Joel Osteen-ish, but I couldn’t help thinking that it was a tiny of glimpse of what Mr. Osteen talks about: God lining up everything to go your way. And I’m very aware that it’s not something I’ll experience often but for a little part of my day, it felt like God was smiling down on me. As His child, it’s nice to know that God’s favor is not only present just for now but also for eternity.
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