"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The day God said "I'm sorry."

I see pictures in my head sometimes.

Not like full out visions that play like Netflix in my head complete with sound effects and credits that last too long, but more like memories I knew once and forgot a long time ago. They come and go and I know when I’m forcing them. And when I don’t force them they usually show things I don’t expect. And sometimes I know what it means and sometimes I don’t.

One morning I was lying in my bed looking at my ceiling and I saw one of these visions. Actually I wasn’t really lying in my bed looking at my ceiling at all. I was lying on the floor looking at the wall. I was on an air mattress that had a leak, which kind of made it like a slow-motion magic trick because you started the night on a bed and woke up in the morning on a floor. And I was looking at my wall at a painting that was held up by a Command strip, a pink clothes hanger, and packing tape. Except it was falling down, because I guess I hadn’t used enough packing tape.

It wasn’t that I was poor, exactly, but I also didn’t have any money. Otherwise I probably would have bought a new air mattress. A few weeks ago I had seriously considered becoming a breatharian, because I had read about them on the Internet once and apparently they don’t eat or drink or anything and just live off sunlight and air. I didn’t really know how they did it but I thought it sounded like a good way to cut down on grocery bills.

So I was lying there and looking at my painting and thinking about God. I had planned on talking to him but I guess God wasn’t talkative that morning or maybe I wasn’t listening very well, so I ended up sort of just staring at the wall and thinking about God and my life and the air mattress. The day before I had more or less lost my job and now I had two weeks to find a replacement, and for months, maybe four or six or nine months prior, life had been really hard. It seemed like nothing had let up in any area of my life—job, finances, relationships, health, spirituality, infinitely more. I had moved three times, changed lives how many times.

Lost one of my favorite earrings.

I was tired. Not sleepy tired, though the magic-trick mattress was starting to fix that too. But tired of fighting. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been truly happy. I didn’t feel like myself.

But nothing really bad had happened. I hadn't died and I could pay my bills this month at least, and I had a family who loved me and more packing tape to fix the painting on the wall. I was going to be okay.

But I still desperately wanted someone’s sympathy. Just someone to say, I know this has sucked. You’ve gone through more than a lot. I know you’re really tired and it’s okay to be that way because anyone would be after all this. Not someone to tell me how they were tired too, and their life was exhausting too, and I-know-how-you-feel-when-you-say-you’re-done, but someone to look at just my life, and say, it’s been hard.

I wanted God to say it.

But it hadn’t gotten bad enough yet to earn God’s sympathy. And so I lay there thinking about maybe what would be bad enough to be really bad. Maybe my house burning down or my parents dying or losing my other favorite earring. Certainly not just an exhausting six months or losing my job, because I was supposed to run the good race and persevere in trials and see God’s provision and remember he works all things for good and rejoice in all things.

Which I guess I wasn’t doing.

So I’d failed at that too.

And that’s when I saw the vision.

It was short. God just came up to me, and he sat down next to me and put his arms around me, and he gave me a hug. And he said two words.

“I’m sorry.”

God said, I’m sorry.

Not, fix it. Not, try harder. Not, be more grateful or praise me more or look on the bright side. Not, use this for my glory or pray about it or fast over your next step or remember those worse off than you.

But just, I’m sorry.

Sometimes I think God is very different from who I’ve believed him to be.