Her attempt to castrate him was the hidden issue in their divorce. It was a second marriage for her, a first for him. As a white haired, older diabetic, he had impotence issues. As a woman whose only other experience with a man was a twenty-something in the prime of life, she took that problem as a personal affront. She could see and accept no other exploration and refused to do anything that could lead her to any other conclusion that he had to be made to pay and had to be rejected in turn.
So it is with many people and God. They lose a spouse, a job, a child and decide there is no explanation for what has happened other than that God is unworthy and must be rejected. Sometimes the issue is obvious, such as a parent who has buried too many loving children, sometimes hidden, like a man's anger at God after losing twenty pounds did not reduce his triglyceride levels.
I finally found out about the secret when we were at the end of the property division. The knife was old and battered and obviously her separate property. He would not give it up. I and the other lawyer wasted hundreds of dollars of time before I finally offered to buy a better knife for him if he would turn it over -- and then he told me the truth.
I saw the two of them together, six months later, happy, remarried, embarrassed to see me, but wanting to tell me too. She had finally found the truth, complaining to other friends who were her age, and realized that he loved her, that the physical realities they had to deal with were not a reason to leave her husband or her church, and that there was more to life than the bitterness she had embraced.
Everyone experiences the harshness of life at some point, in ways that are either real or imagined. Sometimes the hurt we feel can not be avoid, either because our perspectives are too blind or the pain is too great. Sometimes when we cry out to God, if we cry out to God, the only response is that the feelings and pain we share with him are true, and do not offend, and that the Holy One knows we are suffering and does not condemn us.
It is what comes next. Do we let those feelings blind us, do we hold to them until they drive us to harm others or ourselves, or do we decide to find reality, beyond our human perspective.
In mediation, in law, in my profession, over and over again I deal with people who have locked themselves into false perspectives. Like someone who has fallen into a hole in the dark, they have a moment of disorientation and hurt, but they have stayed in the hole and made things worse when they could just walk out if they only would.
On this blog I am really writing only for other parents who have buried children. Especially at this time of the year, following the anniversaries of December 26 and January 26, when Courtney died and when Jessica died, with Robin's death date to come, the feelings are with me.
I know that the feelings are intense, that the experience seems to offer only one lesson -- that God is false or unworthy -- and that so many find it a terrible time, especially in a culture that in a very neo-Calvanistic way sees any tragedy or loss as proof of failure and God's disfavor (we have not come very far from Job's friends and they way they treated Job until God reproved them).
But over, and over and over again I meet people, I have experiences and I feel the greater truth. In this life, nothing is perfect and all die. The gospel makes us more aware of how unfair life is, not less. As Paul noted, without the resurrection, our knowledge would make us "of all men, most miserable." But there is more, and there is a peace that people find, if they don't hold on to the mistaken perspectives they find. In the end, nothing can separate us from the love of God but ourselves. As it says: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" - Romans 8:38-39.
I, too, have been persuaded that if we do not refuse to heed, Christ stands at the door and knocks, and nothing other than our own will can separate us from the love of God. May each of you find that peace.
Wonderful post Stephen. Thank you.
Wow... just wow. Powerful.
Thanks for the comments, I worry whether or not I make enough sense sometimes.
BTW, I ran across this link at another blog, in the comments:
Interesting, how people find the love of God, even when it surprises them or they are not interested in it.
Again, thank you for the comments, they mean a lot to me.
Yes, wonderful post, Stephen, in so many ways.
One thing that happened to me right after James' suicide, when I was feeling really picked on, is that my neighbor, who was our former bishop, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
It was so hard on our ward and our little neighborhood. But I felt that perhaps God didn't have it in just for me, that everyone suffers.
It gave me some perspective.
Although, you know, Stephen, I'm a little punch drunk after work tonight, but your first sentence struck me as hilarious.
If you don't read the rest of the stuff. Yeah, I guess that would be an issue.
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