This post is going to be a lot about God. Fair warning. That’ll probably come as a surprise to those of you who haven’t talked to me in a while. It definitely surprises the heck out of me. I haven’t always seen eye to eye with the man upstairs. My conception of Him – or rather, misconception- kept me from being even remotely interested in any type of relationship with Him. In fact, I even scoffed at the very idea that a relationship was possible. Any more than a child can have a “relationship” with an imaginary friend. No matter how convincingly a 5 year old converses with the air in the empty chair next to him at the dinner table, ultimately, he’s still just talking to himself. And I would think about devout Christians much the same way. Awww, that’s cute. Look at them talk to their imaginary friend, God. Silly Christians.
Now, here I am. I don’t just believe that a relationship with God is possible because the catechism tell me so and my Catholic faith says I must. I believe because I know. How do I know? I guess I learned the same way I learned many things in my life. I learned it’s not a good idea to get impatient waiting for a piece of birthday cake and decide to lean over the candles in the middle of table to grab one. Your hair may burst into flames. I learned that having one too many strawberry daiquiris will make you sick. More importantly, I learned that if you happen to throw up at any point in your life, it’s important to remember what you ate and drank that day so you don’t mistakenly think you’re throwing up blood or possibly your intestines and should probably rush straight to the nearest emergency room. (Thankfully, after a little panic, I came to my senses before providing the ER doctors and nurses some comic relief for the night.) I learned that if you turn your back on two toddlers for longer than 30 seconds they will find and break every egg in the house. I learned that if something hurts when you’re running, it probably means you should stop running. If you don’t you will probably end up breaking something… in 3 places… and need surgery to put it back together. Basically what I’m saying is that I learn things the hard way. I would’ve saved myself a lot of pain if, when I was told that the stove was hot, I simply believed it was. But that has never been my way. I have to know for myself. I have to put my hand on the burner. As a result, I’ve gotten burned. Repeatedly.
And it was in one of those moments that God reached out to me. As I was completely shattered into a million pieces, crying inconsolably on my bedroom floor, God called out to my broken heart and for the first time in my life, I let Him in. It’s a hard thing to explain in words. In fact, I can see my 35 year old self rolling her eyes at what I’m writing. Silly Christian. Luckily, 36 has brought me much maturity and wisdom. Just kidding. I think for those of us who are especially stubborn, it takes being at our lowest to admit our total helplessness. To say: I give up. I can’t do this alone. Please help me. And God always answers in that moment. He wraps us in His arms and says, “Finally!” He must feel the same frustration with me that I feel with my children when I know they’re going to make bone headed decisions. I try to tell them. I try to make them understand. But sometimes they have to touch the stove too. All I can do is be there to hold them as they learn their own lessons.
And here’s a lesson I recently learned. For some reason, I had this idea that saying yes to God would bring immediate overflowing joy. It hasn’t. In fact, the last 6 months have been the hardest of my life… and also some of the most beautiful. But I can only say that because they’re over. You couldn’t pay me enough to relive them.
Yesterday was the epiphany. When the wise men followed the star to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. Recently I’ve been thinking about what happens after the wise men leave.
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt.” Matthew 2:13-14
Mary’s was the ultimate yes to God. “Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” I don’t usually hear about Mary suffering until the crucifixion. But if I were told in a dream that I needed to get out of bed and flee to another country because some one wanted to kill my children, I would be feeling a lot of things. Joy would not be one of them. More likely my conversation with God would go something like this, “Seriously? Seriously?! I said yes to an unplanned pregnancy. I traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey, very large and uncomfortable. I gave birth in a cold smelly stable. Could I just have some peace at home with my family for a little while???” Mary said yes but her life wasn’t easy. God doesn’t promise easy. What He does promise is this:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
I can’t always see how that’s possible when things seem so hopeless. Luckily, I don’t have to understand. Even when things seem so dark, I’m not alone.
A beautiful rainbow on our way to Mississippi after Christmas.
I decided to resurrect this blog because for the first time in a long time, I missed writing. As usual, it’s just my ramblings about life. But if God is more often front and center, that’s why.