Life, such as it is

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Photo source: Guinea Pig Zone

Life has not been kind lately, and most days I honestly feel like every aspect of my life is an accelerated program for professional development for pastoral care.  It’s like job training via sadists, it’s &%$#ing ridiculous at this point.

Seriously.  &%$#ing.  Ridiculous.

And every day it’s some new thing — something on Facebook, an e-mail, something happening outside my door.  I can’t discuss any of it here, but it’s quite a list of people coming to me for random horrible things that also happen to be on my life experience résumé.

Really, God?!?!?!  Really?!?!?!?!

News flash: the whole “pastoral care” thing?  I’m not getting paid for this.  And I’m not putting myself out there as the random emotional dumping ground for the universe — it just happens that (when my best friends aren’t dropping dead) very many close long-time friends are coming to me for counsel…all at once.

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I don’t get a break from this, ever, except when I am at church, in church, actively worshipping or praying.

I love that the Roman Catholic church is OPEN 7 DAYS for prayer and worship, because guess what? I can’t “schedule” or “save up” my need to find a sacred space for prayer and worship for a specific hour a week on Sundays. Thank God a million times over for morning mass.

Add sweltering muggy heat on top of it all.

Sunday night I was struck by my life and that I can’t believe I ever considered anything but ministry.

I am overwhelmed. Tomorrow I am taking a sanity day.

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10 thoughts on “Life, such as it is

  1. Sometimes life is hard but our hoomans very much believes everything happens for a reason and whee are only given what whee can cope with. The fact that you are being given so much, tell us what a strong person you truly are. After some bad things in the Hutch Household, things are finally getting a bit better. Just remember, the bad things will end eventually and you will be a stronger person for them.

    Thinking of you

    Nutty, Nacho, Buddy & Basil (and the hooman)
    xxxx

    • Honestly, at this point, any thought of reasons takes me very dark places. I’m not sure the universe breaks down so naturalistically on those lines, but I do know that God can work with the mess to make something better out of it. It doesn’t make it less of a mess, that’s not the point. People are always trying to move the starting place of a mess because that’s what they have been told to do. Not saying you’re doing that, but it’s just what people know to do. I’m not sure that’s right. I don’t have answers right now, I don’t, all I know is that the Lord my God is good and sovereign, and while some of this mess is caused by bad human choices, I need to trust above all things that he is in this. That’s not as vague as it might sound, but the nature of so much of this just means I can’t say much more. Blessings.

      • I wouldn’t say I’m religious at all but I do think there must be something out there and that comforts me somehow. The belief that there is a higher power, watching over us. I try to break things down, then I find I can appreciate the good times more when I think of the bad times.

        I’m so sorry you are having such a hard time and though I know it makes no difference I want you to know I’m thinking of you.

        I hope you can soon see a light at the end of the tunnel

        ~ Amy

        • I’m a theologian (and actually got a lecture on historical theology from an 80-ish Italian American Roman Catholic this morning that is definitely a conversation to write about!!!). I was implored to “Be who you are,” which — in this case — translates to “Be who I have been taught God wants you to be.” Both amusing (historical theology and pre-Reformation church history is one of my pets) and disturbing (as I don’t like being called a heretic by old ladies). I know who I am, I know what I believe, but I also know that the world is a really messed up place. My own story I keep off the record in public forum, but my own Christian faith is solid.

          Love does make a difference. The entire book is a rhetorical slog, but C.S. Lewis makes a beautiful argument for the power of prayer toward the end of Miracles.

          Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train. 😉

          God is good and still on the throne. Blessings. 🙂

  2. When my house caught on fire at the end of January, it made me positively angry when the same people who said that it was a new beginning and that my home would be even better once the repairs were finished had only those bromides to offer and not a moment more of their company or understanding. Something else happened last year, and a chap I know quoted the thorn in the flesh episode from the Apostle Paul’s life, but that was it. I don’t deride the lesson, but from the people in real life, I wished I had something more than a few words and then, pretty much, disappearance. I’m sure things work out eventually, but I don’t expect explanations in this life. Job may have been materially rewarded (not that any of us should expect that for our sorrows), but his family remained dead, and he never got an explanation.

    I’m sorry. I hesitated to comment in the first place, since in mentioning my own experience to any degree might come off as egoistic or in some way short-shrifting of your own troubles. In any case, from one complete stranger on the Internet to another, I’m sorry you have to endure what you have to endure.

    • Life is pretty overwhelming, but I think what is more overwhelming is that so many of my friends have been hit with huge stuff simultaneously, have turned to me, and that I am experientially qualified to deal with it all.

      That would be like chasing after the master in the Parable of the Talents screaming: “YOU GAVE ME TOO MUCH MONEY!!!”

      I have found myself in similar abandoned-in-hard-times places to what you describe, though I would hope no one gave you the crap line that if you’d had more faith your house wouldn’t have burned down.

      I’m not sorry for what I’m going through because I’m going through it. Truly, I’m happy to be of use to God to love others for Christ.. What I am sorry for is that so many I love are in so much terrible pain.

      Blessings to you. None of us are really “strangers” for we are all human.

  3. Val, your fundamental faith is very admirable. As a cradle-Catholic and coming from a science/engineering background which always demands answers and deals with cause-and-effect, I find the God-question still difficult. Unlike science, I despair of personally ever having the “answers” we all seek on that most important of inquiries. I pretty much am resigned to the fact that a strong belief and a durable faith both require….a leap of faith!

    • I had this hilarious [to me] conversation with an 80-ish Italian American Roman Catholic woman who was seriously my match for stubbornness yesterday morning. I have full intention of writing about what I think about all of it over on St. V the UM when I re-orient myself back to reality after a true adventure yesterday. She didn’t know what to do with a thirty- three year old Protestant who would willingly attend morning mass [alone, on a weekday] at a strange church, knows the proper liturgical responses to mass, has all of her sacraments but Confirmation…

      …and refuses to be Catholic.

      I didn’t mention plans for Jesuit university, plans to study church history, or the fact that I could tell her about the lives of all the saints featured on the walls around us.

      She didn’t have a place for a person like me — a reasonable and knowledgable heretic with all the proper credentials to be a model Roman Catholic today.

      I didn’t argue…much. 😉 You can’t argue with stubborn old ladies (though the Irish American Roman Catholic tack would have been different than hers).

      The Reformed tradition — the Presbyterian church (John Calvin via John Knox in Scotland) being the largest Reformed denomination in the United States — is a very attractive thing for reasonable and bookish people, sometimes almost to a fault. Of course, our very liberal wing is unreasonable to us (the main Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. is currently splitting), but Calvin has a lot to say to reasonable people. I’ve encountered more “very smart” people — especially scientists — in Presbyterian churches than in other Evangelical circles. We’re a denomination of not checking your brain at the door, which can sometimes create a challenge when God decides to be God in a way that is baffling and mysterious.

      That’s where my Roman Catholic roots tap my Reformed self on shoulder and remind me God is allowed to be mysterious.

      I have a very scientific mind generally (was, at one point, working toward mathematics as my career path), but in matters of faith sometimes reason just can’t bring forth a scientific answer.

      Which is — I’m sure you know, because I’m sure you’ve seen it somewhere — where a lot of people draw the line and bail on continuing down a path toward faith or toward a deeper faith in God.

      Aquinas is probably the Faith & Reason poster child, but Aquinas sometimes gives me a headache (as does C.S. Lewis).

      On some level though, there is a scientific way to think about faith. Even science requires faith. I am currently sitting on the top bunk of a bunk bed on the second floor of an apartment building. There are a lot of laws of physics I’m trusting to still be true as I continue to remain here pecking this out on a tablet computer. Wouldn’t that be a trip — going to bed at night unsure if gravity and friction would still be working in the morning! Water…cohesion and adhesion, is it still working today? Yes, but apparently water is being temperamental with its phase change temperatures again this week and is on strike against interacting with phospholipids until Thursday, so if you wanted a shower? The hot water is taking awhile and your soap won’t rinse off (you have been warned).

      Yeah…it doesn’t work that way (thank God for it too!!!).

      But just as there is an element of faith in believing in the laws that govern the physical universe, there is also an aspect of faith required to deal with the less tangible things like spiritual things and the entire question of time and history. They exist on a different plane and under different rules, but are no less “real.” Pure naturalism requires greater faith, and something like agnosticism requires greater faith still.

      Because the bottom line is that if God is who he says he is, that’s the spiritual equivalent to gravity or friction upon which everything else must rest. It’s not to say that what doesn’t happen doesn’t matter, or that the entire universe is just wound up like a clockwork toy and is running down in the way it was set up to run, nothing like that.

      But if God is good and if God is sovereign, that needs to be enough (like it or not).

      That really is the take-home from the Book of Job.

      • We humans are limited much as a bug is limited who lives its whole life on a strictly two-dimensional plane surface, totally unaware that a spatial third dimension exists. When one sees what science has done through the imaginative genius of Albert Einstein, one begins to hope that humans may gradually get closer to the “realm of God” using their intellectual gifts. It was Einstein who broadened our horizons by demonstrating through relativity that we live in a four-dimensional (and curved!) space-time environment and not merely the three spatial dimensions with time thrown-in. Despite such remarkable intellectual achievements, I still envision the ultimate need for an informed FAITH in order to bridge the visualization gulf that surrounds God, however. At any rate, the valuable life-lessons to be learned from scripture stand tall in spite of unanswered questions.

        • They do, but humanism, the Enlightenment, and so much to follow did faith no favors. Anti-intellectualism is doing neither science nor faith no favors. I know people wasting their lives waiting on a prophetic word from God, paralyzed until that word comes — the blind-to-reason set who take anti-intellectualism to new heights.

          It’s the ones who want to touch God, unpack God, be God — “Let us make brick bricks and burn burn them” — who run into problems.

          Above all, faith with balance and perspective. Scripture is essential above all things (for there are so many theological “bunny trails”).

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