Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Life is Messy ....

...... I originally wrote this post 4 months after Jim died ..... exactly one month before what would have been our 25th anniversary.  What. Would. Have. Been.
So very many "what would have beens' over the past 3 years.
Anyway, I was looking through some of my older posts and thought I'd share this one with you.

I have heard it said that if you just pray for God to be in control of your life, and then are willing to accept whatever He wills, things will be just fine.
You really think so? Some people make Christianity sound so easy and simple .... so neat and tidy. 
Well, I beg to differ. And I should know. When Christians make such trite (though well-meaning, I'm sure) statements, I want to ask "Really?! What the hell has ever happened in your life that would give you the experience to say that?" 
Because I think I can guarantee you that anyone who has had their life turned completely upside down, anyone who has had their life ripped out from underneath them, anyone who has been knocked to the ground --- no, knocked into a huge, bottomless pit, would never say something like that. 
There is nothing neat and tidy about life or about following Christ. And just because we daily TRY (I say "try" because if you've managed to succeed at this then you should definitely write a book to help out the rest of us) to turn everything over to God doesn't mean that everything will turn out "fine". 
Sometimes you can turn things over and still end up in a pit.

 I used to think otherwise .... "before". 
I thought my life was neat and tidy. It seemed to be, mostly (as neat and tidy as it can by with 6 kids). So I have probably said those trite things. And if any one of you have ever been on the receiving end of those words ...... I'm very sorry.I didn't know what I was talking about.
 I know that I have had a very blessed life ..... "before" and "after". 
I know that I am still being blessed. Jim was a wonderful husband, father and provider. He did a great job. 

There are many women in my shoes who aren't as well provided for. I thank God and Jim for that every day. I did lose my best friend and soul-mate and heart, but things could be so, so much worse. 
I say this so that you will know that I do see that side of my life. It isn't always as dark as it once was. 
Not always. 

I'm not sure why I wrote this post (heck, I'm mostly never sure why I write anything!). 
I guess it's just to say, please be careful when you speak. Especially when giving your views on God and life and "why". 
Sometimes we will never, ever know why.



  1. Amen Sister!

    When my husband was sick, there were those people -usually well meaning fundamentalist Christian people ( I know, I know - not all like this) who would sneakily ask about my husbands health with concern and then somehow weave in the "if only. . . "
    If only he prayed more. . .
    Believed more . ..
    Trusted God more . . .
    Went back to church (that was his mother! Imagine pressuring your son with a terminal stage four brain tumour! )
    Had greater faith in miracles. . .
    Held a healing service . . .

    It made me want to vomit, sometimes it made me cry. The judgment behind those statements is monumental. More of less implying If you have cancer - there is a reason and it probably has to do with your lack of faith or your life or your soul.

    My response was always " my husband is a deeply good and spiritual person and needs no spiritual "intervention" to bring him back to something he has never lost"

    To the most rude of "why do you think he got a brain tumour?"
    I would respond "I don't know why - in the same way I can't understand why some babies are born with cancer, surely their souls are about as pure as they can get at that point!"

    The judgment, the sanctimonious smiles, the implication that God has doomed you for a neat and tidy reason and those in "the right church" practicing "the right way" are safe and sound and free from pain and worry.

    This is why I have begun to practice Buddhism (and yes it too has its issues) but the idea of "loving kindness" the simplicity and non judgment is the only thing that makes sense to me now.

    I have travelled extensively and the picture reminds me of the poverty, the despair and the many places in the world where beautiful, kind, honest people are desperately trying to make life - a good life - for their families, to do work they can be paid for, to be open to God and to happiness and to love.
    They deserve it just as much as we in the developed world do and if we are going to believe that "that God" is up in the sky - damning half the world because they live where they do, believe what they do and don't look like white middle class North America (thank goodness we have diversity in this world) then yeah, I guess "that God" is also up there pointing out the ones that are going to die from cancer. . . just because.

    I believe - we are here for each other.

    I believe - we are on a journey of self discovery and self actualisation.

    I believe - are bodies are finite, but we are not.

    I believe judging each other only increases our universal suffering.

    I believe cancer can not slay the vast beauty of the human heart.

    There is a beautiful book of fiction by Kevin Brockmeier called "the illumination". It is wonderful, painful, beautifully written.

    Of our human existence he says "they believed their lives were like falling silver coins, flashing for merely an instant before they returned to darkness. They were wrong, but it is what they believed."

    Is it possible that we are all numinous beings on the way -
    and that our judgment of one another will only take us off the path and into darkness?

    I wonder about that.


  2. exactly. There's a subtle shaming in that turn it over to god and things will be alright. As though if your love died in an accident (or how ever), you clearly weren't "right with god." AND that if you are in pain after your love dies, then you are not Doing It Correctly With God. Turning life over to god (however you interpret or understand that) as a daily practice makes your daily practice good. I mean, in before life, my daily practice made me who I was. But it in no way "protected" me, and clearly in no way protected my love, if by "protection" we mean "if you are good with god, you will not die at 39 in a crazy accidental drowning and leave your love and your kid." There is no protection like that. Life is messy. Shit happens. If I can find that the god I knew still sits here beside me, prepared me as best she could - then that is a messy god I can work with.

  3. Yes indeed, shit does happen. I am a practicing Christian and I have had a strong faith almost my entire life. I still have a very strong faith. I have had people tell me that either I didn't pray with enough belief or that I didn't pray enough. And to that I ..... and my God .... say BS (well, maybe God wouldn't say BS). I know that I believed. I never thought for one second that Jim would die. I don't think any of us at the hospital that whole day and night thought that. And there were thousands of people all over the world praying. Here's what I learned from all of this ..... Christians are not immune from bad things. And we should be much more aware of that than we are. Who are any of us to think that we would be spared the bad things in life? All I know is that when bad things do happen .... I am not alone. Even when I feel like it.
    And this, too, I know .... people who represent Christ need to love hard, and not preach. Just love.

  4. Thanks for this (re)post Janine.

    I think the bottom line is that people say stupid things, whether they're believers or not. And that problem stems from the fact that they CANNOT imagine how unbelievably, soulsuckingly bad it is to be diagnosed with a terminal illness and/or to be widowed.

    I too believed God would save Dave. And Dave, well, he had the ability to see God's grace in the midst of his diagnosis. When Haiti was devastated by the earthquake a year ago, Dave was a month into his diagnosis and a week into chemo. He was thankful for the life he was given and recognized how much worse it could be. In the end I was thankful for the 6 months we had. It was 6 months of many people telling Dave how much he was loved. (He was a high school teacher, and hockey & basketball coach. There were A LOT of people!) Not everybody gets that chance. And so I try to say 'God is Good'. But it's not that easy.

    I recently read 'Choosing to See', and I just finished 'A Grief Observed' by C.S. Lewis, in which he he shares his journals after his wife's death. It is helping me to understand why we sometimes get no answers to our prayers. 'When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of "No answer". It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, "Peace, child; you don't understand."'

    God is there. We simply cannot comprehend the bigger picture. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

    Don't get me wrong. I still struggle. Every day. I do however find peace when I'm able see glimpses of God's plan.