sorry, there's no room. you're too big!

Last summer when I was crawling through a personal life crisis, I remember talking to my mom about feelings of hopelessness. I'll probably never erase her sympathetic response—"I guess the more life you live, the more cynical you naturally become."
She's right isn't she? Not only can my mother restore left-over's into a royal feast…but she's a great person to talk to when you just need someone to listen and understand.
But life does get complicated doesn't it? You don't have to live very long on this planet before you figure out that justice isn’t always served, truth isn't always upheld, and peace isn't the norm. Whether we speak of global issues or the intricate details of our own identities, it seems as if age and experiences deafen hope.
I remember being young and creating magical moments by making mud-pies, diving for coins in the bottom of the swimming pool, or squeezing lightning bug guts on my t-shirt.
I have to work a lot harder now for magical moments. They are harder to grasp. I think they are harder to create. Instead of capturing fireflies in a jar, I end up keeping worries, doubts, and hurts in a jar that I carry around my neck like Bill Murray's fish Gill in "What About Bob?". And just like a little kid who finds revenge satisfied in sticking out their tongue and crossing their eyes at the enemy…I do the same thing to God, but it just doesn't seem to be harsh enough punishment.
As a good Christian girl I should find the solution to my doubting in the personhood of Jesus Christ. –whatever that means. God's claim to ultimate authority SHOULD push me into the fan-club where I dance with my pom-pom's and cheer loudly for the ever-victorious champion! I SHOULD be encouraged. I SHOULD be confident. Instead, I'm confused by the bigness of God, the greatness of God, and the glory of God. If God is soooo BIG!!! then why are so many people left in unfortunate situations…situations far beyond their own control. If God is sooooo GOOD!!! then what is there to say about all the anti-goodness that we experience? This little "blog" is not at all intended to pose the wearisome question of the problem of evil…I'm not caffeinated enough for that.
I just can't seem to dodge the conflict of my two worlds—God, and "Life". I swing back and forth, back and forth….today I feel encouraged, tomorrow I'm pissed off. And I'll admit I feel a bit guilty sometimes when I'm caught up in the beauty of God because I feel so separated from the places and people that need God. God's beauty is easy to rest in when you're waking up to a sunrise behind snow-capped mountains…but that beauty doesn't make much sense when I'm sorting through the broken ends of life. Heartbreak is a real thing…and for some reason, the bigness of God….well, it's just too big! It doesn't fit, there's no room.
Try this perspective. How hard would it be to convince a group of college students that Santa Clause really DID exist? What would it take to prove that there really IS this Jolly Ol' Fellow who knows whether your "naughty or nice"? At best, you may find a few students (like myself) slightly hoping…dreaming that he was real….but not believing. However, if you strip away the flying reindeer, "the list", the north pole, and the red fireproof/thermal suit….you are left with the historical account of St. Nicholas. Now that…is believable. He really was a man, he lived, did nice things, brought presents for people…I can believe that.
Sometimes, believing in God is a lot like trying to believe in Santa Clause. It's hard. It just doesn't work. Little children can believe, just like they can believe that Santa is watching them. But as you get older and you learn more about your world, God isn't so believable. He's too big. The historical Jesus…I can accept. The Creator God…I can accept. The God who knows all my needs, answers prayers, intervenes in worldly affairs, overcomes evil, intimately interacts in my own life, provides, protects, prepares…that's not so easy. That's quite a big claim to fame isn't it?
My writing doesn't end here. This isn't my conclusion.
I happen to believe…deep down inside my soul…that God truly is a BIG God. I happen to know that somehow, even when I'm not understanding…He IS touching my life and protecting me and preparing me for tomorrow. I will NOT accept that God is inactive and abstracted from this world. But sometimes…."deep down" is the only place that really believes.


Paul said...

I don't know which outfit to wear when I read your writing--skeptic suit or Jesus-cheerleader outfit. I feel a lot of what you feel depending on the circumstances of my life at the time of my reading.

I have a couple kids in my youth group whose dad died suddenly and surprisingly this year. Their home life was already tough. I remember praying with not a little bitterness, "God I hope you know what you're doing. The timing here really sucks!" Its at moments like that I wish God would flex instead of watch. I don't know the whole story though. I don't know what will happen 20 or 40 years down the road because of Tim's death. Only God does. I can trust him with that somehow.

I wonder where the whole coming to God like a child plays into this conversation we're having.

silly, selfish, and searching... said...

interesting...there's so much around us pointing to an "un-interested" God...and yet, deep down, i do believe in this BIG God, as you say. interesting how their can be a gap between understanding and believing. what is it that drives us to continue believing even in the midst of such confusion, pain, and even doubt. weird. good thoughts.