I am not a confrontational person; generally when people say things that aggravate me, I just smile and say, "Aha." Like last December, when the checkout lady at Wal-Mart (who had 14 teeth and hadn't bathed that week) said, "Why don't you have socks and shoes on your baby?" I smiled and said, "Aha. Didn't notice that. Silly me." All the while gritting my teeth and thinking, Mind your own business. It's Texas, for crying out loud. It's 55 degrees outside! But I'm a good Southern girl; I'd never be rude.
Lately, though, I've discovered that honesty really is the best policy sometimes. I've heard a lot of religious cliches in the last few days from well-meaning, good-intentioned people: "God will never give you more than you can bear." Really? Because this week, I'm seriously doubting that. And when you say that, it says to me that I should just buck up, spiritually, and shoulder the load without being dramatic or emotional, since I obviously have been given something I can bear. Or "God works all things together for good." Okay, but you take what I have on my plate right now and say those words with a straight face. And "Things will all work out in the end." Yeah, I know that, but the end is a really, really long way off, and today is hard enough that I can't see the light at the end.
And before this week, I would've never said those things out loud. But this week, I've said them--with a smile, of course. (Southern hospitality is not a cliche!) Until this week, I'd never had anything given to me in life that prompted me to ask God "Why?" I'd been fortunate so far; my parents are still living, my husband and I have a great relationship, and we're taken care of financially. But this week, things have happened so that I've asked it. And asked it. And asked it again. and I've been angry--with God--don't gasp here. But what has really bothered me is how many people have hinted that I surely haven't asked why, and I surely haven't been angry, because I'm a "good" Christian. And I tell them, bare-bones honest, that I have. Several times. And that I probably will continue to either until I wear out or get an answer. And if I don't get one here, I'll certainly have it on my mind the minute I step into eternity.
And you know what? I'm still here. God hasn't turned me into a pillar of salt. He hasn't stricken me with leprosy. As far as I can tell, He's still listening to me. He still loves me. He hasn't answered me, but He hasn't turned away, either. Growing up, I was really angry with my parents more than a few times. Downright furious on a few occasions. But I never stopped acknowledging that they were my parents, that they loved me, and that I loved them. And I am venturing to guess that I can be downright mad at God, and still have a relationship with Him. I can still say, "This isn't fair!" to Him, and He's not breaking off communication. He's not withdrawing His hand from my life.
David seems to be one of the favorite Bible figures, and I don't think it's because he was king, or because he killed Goliath. I think it's because he was brutally honest with himself and with God. He had some grandiose victories, but he also made a few glorious mistakes. Bathsheba, remember? He was a lousy father. He couldn't build the temple because he was a man of war. And in his psalms, he lays it out more than once that he was filled with different emotions, and many times they weren't "religiously correct." Yet he was called a man after God's own heart.
I can't say that I'm going to stop being angry right away. And from what I've heard from others who are already down this road my family is just beginning, after I calm down, I'll get mad again. And again. And maybe even again. But that doesn't mean I don't love God. And that doesn't mean I'm failing spiritually. I think it just means that I'm human, and that this road called life sometimes stinks. And to hide those raw emotions away will just make my journey harder to accept, and it will tell others who are going through rough times that they need to suck it up and move on. Being false is not helpful. It's not compassionate. Being real is.
What's reassuring to me, today, is that just as my parents didn't disown me when I asked them, "Why?" or shouted, "That's not fair!" or didn't see the value of a decision they'd made for me, God's not going to, either. He's big enough to deal with my anger and my questions. That's why He's the parent, and I'm the child. And on days like today, that's comfort enough.