Sunday, March 03, 2013

Feeling Stuck

Sometimes I write just because it is so spiritually therapeutic. Right now I'm just hoping it will still be true today.

For it to be true, I need to shoot from the hip. So, here goes.

Living by faith in the Son of God is really quite terrifying sometimes. It seems that the Holy Spirit's way with me in the last, oh, I don't know how long, has been to round up all the little comforts my heart would gravitate towards, those little nestley spots, and just sort of get rid of them. When I say that that is the Holy Spirit's way, I mean that for the most part I have been cooperating with this, and for the most part it has been peaceful. Oh, there have been some episodes where there was significant kicking and screaming involved, but it was also very evident that the Holy Spirit was making it clear that this wasn't just a comfort, it was a problem.

And all that is good. My ideal way to decorate a room is very sparsely. This fits my temperament. I like empty.

But then that moment hits and I just want a comfy, nestley spot. And they're all gone. They're just gone. Some of those nestley spots were friendships, or situations of camaraderie. I either slide like a dry dish rag off teflon, or I find a welcome like a bunch of serrated knife edges.

And here I am, living this life of faith, and facing this very un-comfort-able moment.

It's easy to begin to wonder if the problem is with the faith part. When I think with my logical brain, I know that I have been living by faith in the Son of God for, oh, a good 25 years or so. More, really, but the first 10 were childhood and choppy and I wasn't very aware of what I was doing. Let's say I have been consciously sticking my neck out in faith and taking steps as I felt God was leading for this quarter century.

The way it works, when you live a relationship with the Lord, is that there are consistent patterns. God has been teaching me to be me, and so the things He has taught me have been pretty consistent. The methods He has used for teaching me have been pretty consistent. My screw ups have, fortunately, changed, but even my screw-ups have helped me make decisions in following Him that seem to help. Screw-ups have a way of revealing wisdom eventually.

Every once in a while, though, I'm tempted to just say Maybe I've misunderstood things, and none of this really matters. Maybe it is all a creation of my mind; maybe God isn't so personal and message-giving. Maybe He's not as real as I think He is.

In reality, reason tells me He is far more real than I realize.

And I trust the patterns. I trust that when I pray, God answers. I trust the big-picture direction He gives, even as I know that I don't understand a lot in terms of detail. He doesn't show me everything. He makes it so that I have to depend on other people's relationships with Him and their work with Him as well.

None of it, though, none of it, gives me answers for how to deal with what is right in front of me, today. God doesn't give me a magic answer for how to reconcile with this friend who probably thinks I'm full of hatred and anger, when I'm not, but the situation has gotten so tangled and the communication so broken that I truly despair of it. None of it answers how to address the situation in my parish, in my community, for which I have prayed so ardently and yet have such a temptation to throw my hands in the air and give up. Nothing explains why I am so sure that these two elements are connected.

Faith. Or just imagination? Maybe it all matters. Maybe it doesn't matter, and I should just watch TV. Or, maybe it all does matter, but what I really need is a beer and someone to tell me to lighten up.

Several years ago there was a snow storm in our town and the roads were not plowed. I remember going out to shovel the sidewalk and driveway, and then I started shoveling the street. There was probably 18" of wet snow. And I was out there, intent on shoveling the roads clear with my little shovel. I felt obligated to do so, though I have no idea why. It was not a doable task for one person. It was a little weird of me.

This image comes back to me, because it is what I feel like right now. I see these problems, these needs, and I feel my utter powerlessness in the face of them. I know that powerlessness does not define me, and yet... dang... I am willing to give my all, but I know my all is very limited. Perhaps God's will for us sometimes is to just be empty and uncomfortable, and to wait. Be stuck.

I read something yesterday about an Asian Cardinal who spent years in a prison camp being "reeducated" by Communists. He fretted at first, telling God how much important pastoral work there was that needed to be done. And God told him He had called him there for His purposes. Talk about stuck.

One must trust God. I know that He is trustworthy. I am convinced that He is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing. So He knows exactly my situation and how I feel about it; He is completely committed to the absolute best for me, and He is able to do absolutely anything to bring it about. I would stake my life on these things. In fact, I feel I have precious little left on which to stake my life!

And yet, I feel so stuck.

Well, self, I think we're out of beer, but maybe there's a nice glass of wine to be had somewhere. Say your prayers, relax, maybe a nice movie. Tomorrow's another day to soldier on. Who knows, maybe the snow plow will come before the melting does...

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