If you are currently experiencing isolation, depression, or a general inability to invest in things you used to care about, due to devastating events in your life, church, or the whole blasted world recently, “Welcome.”
Perhaps you’re seeking a safe place to process your doubts and mistrust of certain Christian institutions that formerly guided you. Perhaps you’re wondering how a good God could allow all the shit that’s currently going on out here. Perhaps you’re just super exhausted and can’t even stand to keep scrolling the feeds for the next fix anymore. To you I say, once more, “You are welcome, here. Come on in. Pull up a chair. Please, stay for a bit.”
I’d like to provide space for you today, as I’m also one who finds herself wrestling with such thoughts and questions frequently.
For instance I recently found this little digital journal entry from eleven months ago:
And no, I still don’t want to be the one who has to be responsible and tell the truth. I don’t want to have to be the tattletale. But no one else will, and I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t unload before I walk away. But I don’t LIKE to stir the pot. I hate confrontation and controversy! I’m a peacemaker, a mercy giver, a sympathizer. But I don’t want to be a doormat and I can’t be responsible for anyone else being taken advantage of. UUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH
Aikhdfsiuhewbdasfoihdgnrglokewthieahfadsoidsntnkeieiswiwappsidkthtneiwaksnt e ahjsoeitthewa aodiwehaldifghgna eheit azsndjkda doathas
Punch and slap all the keys at once and stop this whirlwind of chaos and frustration. Is there no end to the unrest, oh, LORD? How long will be too long?
I want to go back to the beach. Or I just want to live in a quiet house, with my 3 kids and husband. And we live off the land, in a small community, with simple jobs close by, like tending gardens or building houses. And we go to church on occasion, and eat meals together in the evenings. And everything works. We have enough, and the water is hot when you need it, cold when you don’t. And there are games to play and books to read, and we know how to make the things we need. There’s no need for cars or money or the fucking internet. Why, oh Why? Why do we make life so complex and complicated?
And then there’s this one from yesterday:
But also I’m just tired. Tired, tired, tired. I want to sleep. I want to be sad. I want to not have to worry about talking to another human– especially one who might want something from me. NO, I’m not down for that right now. My 0₂ stats are super low. I have to just sit here with the oxygen mask on myself for a while and people need to respect that . PLEASE!! Dear, God please help them to be able to do that. Ugh.
I don’t want to have to keep up with the clock today, or worry that I’ll forget to pick up my kid from school. I don’t want to plan dinner or cook, or have to go to Walmart and buy someone's body wash.
I wanted to lay by the pool all day and drink beer and get a suntan.
And I want to go away and camp with my best friend for the weekend. To sing songs on a guitar and laugh. Because I’m so sad and so tired. And so over everything.
Why do I have to know so many people who struggle? Why do they all have to be people I care about? Why do I have to pray for them and help them bear their burdens and WAIT, WAIT, WAIT.
Why is life so hard, Lord? Why is it so hard every single day, from sunup to sundown there is injustice and pain and death.
Honestly, I’m feeling embarrassed to share these with you, but I choose to because I really want you to feel like you’re not alone. Even if you’re not a middle class white woman who lives in the suburbs, your feelings are still valid. (See? I’m still dismissing my inability to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Old [American, Suburban, Isolationist] habits die hard.) Life is super hard here on planet earth and lots and lots of us are ready to give up several times a week.
But because I still have the tiniest bit of faith that somebody up there knows and loves me, I decided to go eat lunch after I finished that 466 word rant yesterday, cleverly titled “sorrow and frustration.” Then I spent the next hour listening to a favorite album from several years ago and tried to keep writing. I didn’t come up with any more words, but I remembered a phrase one of my favorite worship pastors likes to say, so I wrote it down by hand on a blank sheet of printer paper:
“We call those things that are not, to be as though they were.”
Then I looked up the phrase on the internet. Turns out it comes from the Bible, Romans 4:17, to be exact. Here’s the verse as quoted in the NIV:
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
“Hmmm. ‘The God who gives life to the dead’,” I thought to myself, then looked up the same passage in The Message:
We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”
After this it was time to go pick up my youngest from school, so I left the house and when I got back decided to take a nap. Because I learned a long time ago that sometimes taking a nap is literally the most spiritual thing one can do. After my nap it was dinnertime and after that I spent the rest of the evening painting and watching TV.
I was going to share a photo of Wonder Woman because I have this one top I sometimes wear in order to feel strong and confident, but instead I'm going to share a quote from Sue Monk Kidd’s book The Book of Longings which says “the anger made me brave, and the grief made me sure.”
There’s a lot of external pressure to run from emotions like grief and anger, but yesterday I expressed them, then did my best to hand that death over to Jesus and let it go. Today I’m still moving slowly, but I’ve also been a little more sure of God’s goodness, and a bit more brave in my actions, so I’m calling yesterday’s battle a win. Though it hardly felt like it in the moment.
So my final bit of advice to you today is to go find a quiet place to listen, and turn this song up loud. Pay special attention to the Bridge:
I know that you've never been satisfied
With the numbers and the figures, but there's something still to find
There's magic in the night, there's a Spirit in the night
P.S. Some brief marketing:
In case you missed my latest article on the Rabbit Room, here’s a link: https://rabbitroom.com/2023/08/gods-not-finished-with-us-yet-a-review-of-rachel-wilhelms-jeremiah/