So I’m feeling different today, as of last night…a feeling I haven’t had in a while. I’m feeling spiritually hopeful, and somewhat happy with God. That sounds kinda depressing, I know, but I’m just glad to be feeling this way.
I was talking to a friend last night and was arguing to her about the character of God (as I’ve been doing lately with friends…never really wanting to and mostly wishing I hadn’t later on)…and she kept asking me for what proof I had to be angry with God or to disbelieve in any way that He’s good. I told her what came to my mind, which was really cloudy and scattered, and I wasn’t proving my argument very well. I said, “You know, I was going to start a list a couple years ago, daily listing every little reason why God seemed like He wasn’t there at all, or why, even if He was, He probably didn’t care at all. But I didn’t start that list, because I knew it’d be bad for me. The only purpose would be proving to people that I could back up my doubts with good reasons. But I knew it would only solidify my disbelief…and possibly weaken the faith of my friends.”
I didn’t expect my friend to reply the way she did. She said “That’s true, so have you ever thought to write a list of why God DOES seem like He’s there. A list of everything that shows He quite possibly does care?” I thought for a moment and realized that it was a good idea. Although it somewhat scares me because I’m afraid of writing each point down and still seeing some pattern of psychology or happenstance in them all. (nice word huh…happenstance). But I had some good thoughts about God this morning and think I should write them down.
I’m currently listening to the audio version of “What’s so Amazing about Grace” by Phillip Yancey. I haven’t gotten all the way through, but I’ve heard enough stories and examples he’s given to see that his admonition seems to be right: forgiveness breaks a cycle of hatred and depression that could last a lifetime, and sets the forgiver free. What’s interesting in Yancey’s challenge is that he says even when the other person has not asked for forgiveness and thinks he’s done nothing wrong, there’s still a way to forgive, and it must be tried, for the forgiver’s sake… so the forgiver can have freedom and so the person being forgiven sees grace (and may actually change through seeing forgiveness expressed). Now what I’m wondering, is what if that’s flipped around? What if the person being forgiven really did nothing wrong and the person who was incredibly hurt by them forgives them anyway? (I think it can still be forgiveness). See, I really have no clue about forgiving people, as I guess I’ve forgiven everyone (can’t think of anyone I hold a grudge against… except for my grandparents making me eat broccoli when I was a kid.) …you think I’m joking. :-p
I have a hard time forgiving God. Yes, He’s perfect, and holy, and good. But I have to tell myself that intellectually…because my heart barely believes it anymore, and it was broken by Him. Even if God has done nothing wrong, what I feel is the same effects as if someone was betrayed by another person, and I now have the option to forgive or not. It doesn’t matter if He’s perfect… I can still forgive Him for being silent for so long when He used to feel so close. For staying silent on the most important questions we have…and for making the answers He provides so arguable. For being confusing, and making us wonder about His motives and His love, like a boyfriend who stays silent when you expect that “I love you” back.
So I’m trying to forgive God. I say “trying” because I’m very careful about my absolutes lately. I know that my faith is very fragile right now, and so are my feelings, and I need to establish a solid foundation again. Because what’s in my head hasn’t yet made it to my heart, and in some ways, vice-versa.
Another friend reminded me of a blessing God sent a while back… $3,300 from an accident settlement that I never even knew existed until the day ‘my lawyer’ told me I got the money (my lawyer is a friend I hadn’t even hired, but just said ‘hey can you be here to just oversee this in case they try to say it was my fault?’) -Nothing else. Never ONCE asked to get money out of it or wanted to…didn’t even cross my mind… I was actually worried I might have to pay for some of the doctor bills). So my lawyer called after the entire settlement was over to tell me he’d gotten me “a little money” for my troubles. Ah yes, I had suffered so much. :-p
All that to say, I was grateful for it then, but even though half of me praised God for it, the other half was saying “yeah, but it’s not necessarily God’s gift, it’s just good luck with good circumstances.” I’ve been bitter toward God for the last couple of years, because He keeps giving me all these outward blessings…the easiest life…and yet I kept telling him “Stop it! Why don’t you change me on the inside?? Cause you know what I want is inward blessings. You know none of this makes me happy.” I remember several years ago knowing I could have lived off nothing, homeless in a poverty stricken country, telling others of Christ…because I was free. Inwardly, I had so much joy it wouldn’t have mattered if I got in a car wreck and completely ruined my body and face, and couln’t sing for the rest of my life, or whatever else. I wanted God to give me THAT again.
But what I’m realizing lately is how no matter whose fault it was that I don’t feel that way inwardly anymore (mostly my fault, yes), the fact is, God is still outwardly pouring me with blessings, and it reminds me of Yancey’s stories of people who don’t deserve excessive kindness but who receive it from the very person they wronged. I haven’t been praising God…I haven’t been liking Him at all, much less serving Him without just doing it out of guilt, and hardly loving Him…I haven’t loved His people lately… and I yell at Him for giving me blessings.
But He still gives them to me. (…grace.)
And finally, a DJ mentioned last night that many people in their mid 20’s like to sit around and discuss what’s wrong in the world, but they do nothing to fix it. I got to thinking about how for the past couple years, I talk to people about how I’m struggling with God, and why, to me, God seems like He doesn’t care much about people. Yet for the past two years, I’ve loved people less than I ever have, and gotten more impatient and annoyed than ever. (Just like Yancey’s book, where the daughter that couldn’t forgive her mean, abusive father later became just like him, and her son later became just like her). I’m not saying God is mean and that I’m becoming like Him. I’m saying my perception of God has been that He’s mean, and I’ve simmered in that for so long now that I’ve started turning into the very traits that I say I hate.
So instead of being angry because God allows people to live (or die) the way they do, in confusion, or depression or without faith or whatever, maybe I could actually decide to start going out and helping people again.
And these are my new thoughts.