Monday, July 2, 2012

Down




O YHWH, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O YHWH.  Psalm 139:1-4 


Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1



Can you hear when we call?
There where we fall?
Standing our backs against the wall.  
Top of our lungs, hallelujah.  
Where pain and love bleed into one.
Matt Kearny

So I ended up having the weekend from hell.  Without going into detail, I'll simply say that it was a waste of my existence.  In fact, the entire month of June appears to have been a waste of time.  The weather, family dynamics, incredibly bad timing, etc.  The cherry on the sundae was last night at work.  Brutal.

They all seemed to conspire against me.  Maybe that makes me sound like a whiner.  So be it.  One way or the other, you take all that and combine it with the usual mess running around in my head and it all did a number on me.

So, what do you do when times like these come at you?  Where is God in all of this, and how do you seek him?

____________________


I really love the people at Living Waters.  That's the little body of folks that I go to every Sunday.  We meet in a Middle School.  The building is not the church.  The people there are the church.  I love my church.

I've been burned more times than I can count be people who call themselves "Christians."  I am always, and hopefully always will be, on guard around American "Christians."  Trust must be earned.  You do not get my trust by simply breathing, nor by wearing a label that says you dig Jesus.  Glenn Beck says he is a Believer.  He certainly is not.  Rick Perry prayed in front of 30,000 right-wing sheep, and I wouldn't trust him with a glass of water.  Live it!  Do not simply say it.

In the churches I have grown up in, I rarely felt safe enough to be honest about whatever may have been bugging me.  In some that I have been to, I knew better than to speak openly about questions, problems and struggles.

Not so with Living Waters.  Our Pastor has done a very good job modeling vulnerability.  It invites you to be open and honest.  I'm not sure how you would "bear one another's burdens" otherwise.  It probably helps that we only have about 200 people attending.  A small size has it's advantages.

____________________


Is the God of the bible a cosmic dimwit?  Is he a slightly senile grandpa?  Is he weak?  Does this God have the equivalent of "Blonde Moments" on a galactic scale?  Probably not.

And yet that is often how we treat him.


When I am having a truly bad day, I need to vent.  When I vent, it can get pretty ugly.  The worse of a time I am having, the worse the venting.  I really needed to vent yesterday...and I did.

Is this right or wrong?

Depends on who you ask, I suppose.


There have been times, many of them actually, where I have screamed, yelled and cussed at God.  Once was in a parking lot at night.  It was not very pretty.  I accused him of everything.  I was very, very angry.

Is this right or wrong?

Depends on who you ask, I suppose.


In Minnesota, we have a very large passive/aggressive streak that runs in us.  We evade answering directly.  We try to be polite and proper.  The church often does the same thing.

The church is full of shiny, happy people.  Now that we have asked Jesus into our hearts to be our own personal lord & savior, all is right with the world.  There are no more struggles.  We are all very happy, and to prove it we will put on our smiley, happy masks when we walk through the door.  If we are actually weak enough to have a tiny problem from time to time, we may enquire about it to others who are wiser and more mature by using language found in fortune cookies or the magic 8 ball.  They in turn will quickly spread this information to the rest of the body as gossip in the form of prayer requests.

"Thank you, Jesus!"


I have been chastised by "Christians," and even some in my own family for the choices of words I use when I am in pain.  They are more interested in the proper choice of vocabulary than they are in my pain.  When this happens, it tells me a great deal about them.  And then they wonder why I do not trust them with my confidences anymore.

Is their God a cosmic dimwit?  I guess he must be.


When I read the bible, I get a rather strong impression that this God actually knows what's going on.  It would appear that he knows my heart much better than I do.  He also seems to know the very words on my tongue before I even use them.


So should I compound my sin by lying to him about what is really on my mind
...my pain, my doubts, my fears?


I do not say this lightly.  I don't know how proper manners & etiquette work with this God.  I am sure that he doesn't exactly enjoy much of what I have to say when I am in a painful place. (I am probably using the wrong fork, too.) But it would seem to me that he is a big boy who can take it, and would most likely prefer my honesty.  At least we can get to the heart of the matter that way.  I might be guessing here, but it would appear that the heart of the matter is a big deal to this God.

____________________


If I ever do get married, it will certainly be one of Jesus' greater miracles.  Finding a woman who would put up with me and my mess would be very impressive, indeed.  I am a handful.  I freely admit to that.  I think that I am probably easy to like, but very difficult to love.

At Living Waters I have some very good friends.  One of them knows all of my dirty little secrets. (Yet he still puts up with me.) I was able to vent to a few of them yesterday.  Regardless of the frustration of this past weekend, I am very thankful indeed for those people.  They let me vent.  They actually listen when I am hurting...AND they put up with me.  I am grateful.

I love that church.  I am safe enough to be in pain there.

____________________

I do not believe in "Good" Christians.  There is no such thing.  You are either a struggling Christian, or you are not.  If you do not struggle, get away from me.  You are full of deceit, religion and you lie to yourself and to God.

If you seek to follow Jesus, then you will be full of doubt and questions.  Do not take the passages on doubt out of context to say that honest questioning is sin.  You are only fooling yourself.  You are full of the secret fears & anxieties, the guilts, questions and tensions.  You know you are!


More & more, I realize how much Jesus invites us to live into these very tensions.  
It is where he is waiting for us to find ourselves in him.


Do not lie to yourself or to this God.  Be honest or he cannot heal you, because you do not really wish to deal with these things.  You would rather burry them deep, and then cover them with your own religiousness to show what a "Good" Christian you are.


Even in my pain, struggle, anger and frustration, and especially when my depression kicks in to high gear, (Which is not the case this weekend...just life crapping on my forehead.) I have a body that I can go to who will listen.  God uses these people, his bride, to help me process and then to heal.


I love that church.  I am safe enough to be in pain there.




Peace

Joe

1 comment:

  1. I love our church too. So glad to hear you were able to vent and be accepted. LW - totally rocks, in my humble opinion. Thanks for sharing and yes - all of us who are honest will admit we all struggle. No easy answers to some really tough questions and that't the truth.
    Paula

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