If you’ve known me for more than a few years, you may have noticed (you imaginary readers, you) that I didn’t write anything on my daughter’s birth/deathday this year.
Here’s what I was doing instead of writing: hanging out with friends, going to church.
For several months now, I have been in this angry-at-religion mode. Not angry at my Christian friends, not angry with God, but angry at all of the trappings, all of the methods and all the ways people use to talk about those methods. It had become reactionary to the extreme. If I thought through the things that set me off, I could identify that they were either really not a big deal, or I could see how I disagreed with them (also not such a big deal). In some cases, identifying something that set me off would cause me to realize I actually agree with that thing. Nevertheless, I was struggling furiously with all of it…
Friday, as I drove south to visit friends, I had this very long conversation with God about something unrelated to those religion issues. I may or may not write another post about that conversation because it was about men and I feel conflicted about internetting such thoughts. Regardless, the conversation seems unrelated to the realization. Driving down wet, windy roads in the dark with rain also on my face I suddenly thought, I don’t want to rebel anymore.
All of this is on its way to Sarah’s birthday.
The internal shift came in handy when I visited my friend’s church since, you know, church is usually pretty churchy. This time, though, instead of reacting, I sat and took it all in and was able to ingest, set aside, or wrestle with the things coming at me. I was overwhelmed with the reality that God is not disappointed in me, no matter how much I diverge from who I think I should be. He’s not worried, or angry about my anger. It’s so strange to see him even while letting go of so much that I thought was required of me…. Like I fell down and down and landed hard in the mud and he’s just already there, smiling at me with his eyes, not worried about where we go from here. In the midst of this return to sanity was a lot of intermittent crying. No, not really intermittent, more constant. Just in the pew, trying not to let my chin quiver.
On both sides of me sat friends who have known me a long time; friends who love me deeply, way beyond my irrational phases and theological differences. The friend to the left said early on, “I’m so glad she was here.” The fact that Sarah’s short life impacted more than just me is somehow a balm. She was something other than me and she still matters. A little later, the friend to my right wrapped me in a hug and said, “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Chin quivering, but into my friend’s shoulder.
I hate to paint myself in some kind of tragically melancholy pose. I know I am just anyone, and no one. And at the same time, I am loved and I’m working hard at the hardest job, which is just believing it. And how much more desperately do I want to be able to give that love back.
So I’ll leave this here and get on with it.
[I often title my posts after songs that are in my head. The song there now is this.]