today i went to church. i have been so excited about this new experience of faith that i explode in conversations with friends about it. most of my friends aren’t christian, but very supportive of this thing that gives me peace; to the point that when i lost my sunday morning attendant, my sweetie volunteered to take me to church, a great act of service considering the level of violence she’s experienced under the banner of religion.
i never took her up on her offers to take me though. i didn’t have words for why i stopped pursuing after a relationship with God. one week of being on my own became two, two weeks became ten. the words i read just stopped meaning something to me. the idea of prayer seemed ludicrous. songs that had given me joy before annoyed me.
out of respect to what this relationship meant to me over the last year, i decided to give things another try today. the pastor spoke about having what he calls an “unoffendable heart”. i didn’t know what he meant by that, but became moved by his message. my notes:
Some of us are giving God the silent treatment. So mad we can’t pray, so mad we don’t want to worship…Discouragement and disillusionment makes it impossible to see the supernatural, offense in our heart makes it hard to see love… Offense is often a passive anger. We don’t notice it because we pay attention to active anger…The question is not whether your prayers get answered quickly, it’s whether we allow ourselves to be offended if they are not. The key to not being offended by God is just accepting that understanding about why an injustice took place may not happen and making a decision not to be bound by the expectation of understanding.
in a second, everything unspoken in me got said. i am so mad. getting choked up and leaving a room because i’m frustrated is recently a common occurrence. i never say i’m mad at God, but today that rang true. i am mad with God. some of my list of grievances:
I’m mad at how limited I feel with this body. So many things I can’t do. God made me like this?
Mad that I have to put so much labor in managing my disability and that it’ll be this much work, if not more, every day until I die.
Mad at how scared I am that someone will physically hurt me and that there will be nothing I can do about it. Mad at how vulnerable I am to other people’s whims.
Mad that I’m 25 years old and think of my lifespan as some twisted Benjamin Button movie, like I am aging at a different rate than my peers. Mad that I have to think of my lifespan as twenty five more years, hopefully fifteen of them “good ones”.
Mad that I accepted God to be in my life and dang, I still just feel so, so alone.
i don’t know what to do with my anger. i want to punch something; i want to plant my fist against a wall so hard it breaks, just like i saw my brother do once when we were younger. i want to rip something open and hear the sound the tear makes, whether it’s a shirt, a dirty rag, a plastic bag, anything.
but i can’t. besides the fact that i can’t physically do those things (i’m mad about that, too), this is my life. i can go up to the alter after the service and cry because i’m so angry at God and don’t know what to do. i can keep my sunglasses on while i hang out with friends after church, go home and cry some more. tomorrow, i can go to work and pour all my energy into doing the best job i can. and, later in the week, when someone I am working with tells me that they don’t know how they will live now that they’re disabled, i can be the baby face that reminds the person, you just gotta, it’s not easy, but you aren’t alone in it, and you told me once you believe there is a purpose for your life, well, i believe that too for you. you’ll be OK. this your life. your freedom. if you want it, you have to fight for it. those moments will dislodge some of the bitterness and like always, i will remember i was positioned exactly for this work and think: “look at God using you, aren’t you blessed?”
i will probably still be angry a lot of the time, but life will continue.
i pray to one day, as PB says, not be so offended. i pray to see grace.
even in my anger, i am refusing to believe that God has forsaken me.