Monday, March 24, 2008

easter -- the morning after

i am like this fencepost, leaning to one side while everyone else seems to manage to stand straight up, undamaged by the weather, wind, elements. i'm tangled up, tied tightly, maybe trying to break free on good days but on other days just resigned to the fact that i may be tied up and leaning forever.

it's unfair. i know, i know--life is just unfair, you say. heck, i even tell my kids that when they start that diatribe. and it's exactly what my mom told me, too: "honey, life is just not fair sometimes." but, somehow, somewhere deep down inside, i really yearn for life to be fair, just, equitable. of course, usually when i think about "fairness" i'm thinking only of myself.

isn't that the way it is? i am such a self-centered creature by nature. i think it's unfair that my spouse is between jobs and sometimes we struggle to buy groceries, while other people seem to prosper and have all they need and THEN some. i think it's unfair that some women are just born to be skinny, despite having three babies, while i sit here 7 months after giving birth to my 3rd child and weighing 15 pounds (at LEAST) more than i want to, and wondering why the weight just isn't magically falling off me as i type. i think it's unfair that sometimes (okay ALL the time) my kids fight with each other, while other kids seem to have a very loving relationship.

see, all these things have to do with me. i could spend all day typing up a list to post here of all the injustices i face every day or have recently faced. but the truth is, my perspective is skewed. i grew up in an american protestant church (southern baptist, you may recall from my confession in a previous post) where i learned that my faith was all about ME. "come down the aisle and accept jesus into your heart." (whatever the heck THAT means, really!!) YOUR heart. and then he was supposed to somehow make my life better. not give me lots of stuff--i didn't grow up with that theology. but i WAS taught that when i need something, pray, because God wants to listen and give me the desires of my heart. no--not a new car...well maybe a new car if mine breaks and i need a way to get to work, but not a FANCY new car; you see the nuance?

so for the last 4 years, off and on, i would pray and ask God to provide certain things (you know, simple things, like money for rent and groceries), and instead (folks, this is my interpretation here, just so you know) of providing, a paycheck of mine would mysteriously be delayed, or my spouse's resume would be magically "misplaced" and not considered for a job he really wanted and really could have landed. i'm not kidding--this has happened OVER and OVER and OVER to us in the last 4 years. at some point, i realized, oh my gosh, God doesn't HAVE to provide a roof over my head; he doesn't do that for the people who are down at the homeless ministry trying to secure meals for their families (and no, not all of them are junkies--some of them have just fallen on bad luck and ended up there).

ok, so this is where my faith sort of started deconstructing--when i realized that God didn't have to do anything for me. i'm part of the bigger picture. it's not just all about me. the trouble is, i never started reconstructing my faith, so here i sit, and this is what i'm facing today:

my dearest friend in town has been struggling to conceive a child for the past 4 years (maybe 5). i've known her 3 of those years, but our friendship just developed into one of those really close bonds in the last year or so. as someone who has 3 kids (and who conceived the 3rd by total accident and wasn't very happy about it while she was struggling to get pregnant!), i don't ever feel very sure of what to say to her. i can't say to her, "i understand what you are going through," or "i can imagine how hard this must be." i want to say to her "i really hope this month is the month," but then i don't want to contribute to getting her hopes up and then nothing happens.

well, my friend and her husband are at the end of a certain part of this journey and are headed to the doctor today to hear their other options, having gone through some really painful (and very expensive) stuff to no avail. here's where my faith really wavers: why can i get pregnant just by practically looking at my spouse, while she tries and tries and--nothing? this is not fair. i used to repeat what i heard at church and say, "children are such a blessing," or "God is blessing us with this child." now, though, i have to be honest: i cringe when i hear other people say things like this to me, because i think, "it's not fair for me to have these blessings (which on bad days i honestly think i've been cursed with--any other moms with me on that one?!), while my friend desperately wants a child of her own and so why isn't God 'blessing' her with one too?"

of course, then you can take this idea even further (i have, trust me, and it just causes a serious emotional downward spiral) and say, "it isn't fair that some children are born in africa with no food on their lap to eat, no mother because she died of AIDS " or, "it's not fair that some people just down the street from me feel like they have no other option to make money to provide for their families besides working as prostitutes on the street at night," or, "it's not fair that some moms i know have to work 2 and 3 jobs while raising their children alone without a partner."

life is just not fair. and i'm not at the point where i have any answers at all to the question of why God won't just give my friend a child, why He won't provide a job for my spouse, why some people have to struggle much harder than others, sometimes their entire life without a break from it all.

i know people who seem to be able to be able to hold their faith in one hand and these questions in the other, and, somehow, they manage to keep their faith intact. today, the day after easter, i wrestle. i ponder. i struggle.


Karin Hernandez said...

Kristi, your honesty really touches me. My heart hurts for you, it really does. I don't know why either and at least you have the guts to ask the questions and be honest. That has to be something. I miss you like crazy, friend.

Amelia Plum said...

The photo is beautiful!

Kristi, I'm so so glad that I've gotten to know you through the blogging world. In many ways I feel like you're a kindred spirit. Your post is so touching and, like you, I have the same questions about the imbalance in life. Although my belief in God is of a much more skeptical basis, being an optimistic agnostic when really I'm much more of a pessimist in life.

You are such a caring person and I'm sure your friend that's struggling to conceive feels your concern. You can't say 'I understand what you are going through' but you can say that you imagine the struggles she's going through must be incredibly difficult and while you haven't gone through them yourself, you hurt for her and are there for her whenever she needs to talk. Something tells me that she already knows this about you though.

I do think that appearances are deceptive and that people who look like they have everything looks, financial security, might struggle in other ways. Like REM says 'everybody hurts'. I just don't understand why some people, good people, have to hurt so much, so often, while others appear to go through life blessed with very few troubles. That's a huge part of the whole omnibenevolence of a judeo-christian God that doesn't make sense to me, the whole random suffering. And, like you, I cringe at the 'God blessing us with this child' or 'God answered our prayers' and our abducted child was found. It's a bit sanctimonious. What of all those people who are good that never get a child or whose prayers aren't answered in so many other ways.

I'm not glad that you struggle but I am glad that you can write about what you're going through in such a relatable and humane way.

And curse those skinny women who drop the baby weight within six weeks, especially those that still keep a nice rack while being twig thin everywhere else.

Penny said...

Wow Kristi,
This is a LOADED post! I understand what you are saying about the justice part of the world. I too have a strong sense of justice and sense of right and wrong. However, if these beliefs are left unchecked, that is when that weed of bitterness or resentment can grow in our heart and choke out our faith that God really does care and answer our prayers. I don't have all the answers, but I know God, He is good. The bible says it rains on the just AND unjust. In otherwards, good things happen to people who have made poor choices and bad things happen to people who make wise choices.
Really Kristi, it all comes down to what you truly believe in your heart. When you are being blown back and forth like a reed, do you believe that God loves you and wants the best for you? Instead of pondering those things that drive you crazy and get you depressed, ponder this:
Philippians 4:8
....whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I'm not saying not to ask God for the answers to the questions you are asking, you SHOULD ask Him. Just remember it is in His timing and have faith that you will receive, and you will. This is a period in which your faith is being tested and built, don't let it be in vain!
p.s. lovely photo by the way! oh, and Amelia is right, you can't judge a book by it's cover, you never know who is hitting their knees late at night crying out to God for something in their life. Ask God, He may use you to deliver the word or touch they need to help them through! And about your friend who is trying to get pregnant. I know for me, when I have stopped hoping for something because it is too painful to keep on keeping on, I know I have a true friend when they pick up the baton and carry it for me when I don't have the strength for a time. Ok, I'm done :)!