Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Foundations...

Hmm... I find myself tonight hurting yet again. Or really, still. It has not been gone for some time, just closer to the surface and less close - waves. I guess it has always been this way. At least, I don't remember when it wasn't. 


Hmm... my friend tells me that the foundation my life was built on was bad. That it is being demolished and rebuilt. I would agree... but... I am tired. And sad. And scared. 

And I don't have much interest in theological discussions right now. I'm sure that maybe that will come back at some point... or maybe the burning issue for me is one of the most foundational theological, philosophical and metaphysical issues that there is.

Does God really love me? Hmm... the immediate answer to that question in my mind is two answers overlapping: "yes" and "I don't know." 

Okay, you all get to watch me process a little. Writing it out seems to help.

So, the issue is more, I think, that I don't know what love is, or rather, what God loving me is supposed to look like. My previous post was an internal dialogue, a tape, that runs in my head often. Although it was amplified and reinforced by the church, the voices speaking are my parents - mostly (but not completely) my mom. I don't know how to tell if He loves me. I know that sounds stupid. But in my mind, punishment for not doing it right the first time, or making a mistake, or just (sometimes) having fun, is what I expect.

Another phrase I hear in my head is, "You made this mess. You clean it up. And don't expect any help."

Hmm... last week, I got a call from a collection agency. They are going to start taking a big chunk out of my checks starting next week unless I give them money I don't have by Friday. This is for an OLD defaulted student loan. That I owe. By myself. I made the mess. And I have not been able to clean it up in almost 20 years. And I don't even know if it is okay to ask Him for help. Tough love, right?

My friend says that is what the Blood and the Grace are for - covering mistakes. But I expect angry when I ask for help. I expect a lecture followed by why help is not available. Hmm... I expect to be told I am doing it wrong and until I humble myself and admit that I am willful and stubborn and lazy and selfish, I will not receive help - and even then, I will have to pay the consequences of my actions.

And part of me knows this is bullshit. But part of me doesn't. So I am conflicted and scared and don't know what love looks like from Papa. Not sure if He's got His hand out or a belt. And I sometimes feel like I just need someone - God - to tell me what to do so I can do it and be safe. Which is how I ended up in an abusive church. 

And I would like to know what to expect when I am told by someone that they love me. Because I don't. And that is a foundational issue. And it is not their fault. That is, it is not my friends' fault that I don't know what to expect.

But with God... I have been told that even when a child is raped, God ordained it to bring good from it. I can't reconcile Love with that. Bluntly, if God ordained what happened to me as a child for some 'greater good,' I am not okay with that. Can I see where because of what happened, there are good things in my life now that would not have been there otherwise? Yes! Can I see where, because of what I went through, I was able to help someone else? Yes! And I am glad. It gave birth to a friendship like none I have ever had and saved someone very dear to me from becoming just another statistic. And these things are so worth it.

BUT... to say God planned it, or even said, "I'm going to let this happen so I can use it down the road." Hmm... that is like saying, "I'm going to let you be hurt so I can help someone else later." How does that work for the one being hurt?

I am fine if it is like this: world broken, bad things happen because of fucked up people making fucked up choices. God takes mess and works good out of it.

But the problem is, I don't know if it is like that or... Man fucked up. God uses man to work His own ends and prove His way is best. Some hurt in process. Collateral damage.

If it is the latter....... 

And I don't know... and I have asked Him to show me. And I am sad and tired... and it comes in waves. 

And yet, on a level very deep, I know He is good. I have always known. I just don't know how to translate that into something my soul can take refuge in.... I don't know how to believe in love...

17 comments:

Erin said...

I can't even tell you how I've struggled with this same image of God. I haven't come to any real answer...and for me, to be able to take true refuge in God, I have to understand this "collateral damage". I have heard that God doesn't allow bad things, they just happen because we live on earth...but that he can impact how those bad things change us, and the people around us, into something good. Eventually. But I don't know...because if he can affect us, why doesn't he just prevent the bad things in the first place?

Or maybe bad things simply give us a chance to be good to each other...and we are God's hands and feet that way.

I don't know.

Katherine Gunn said...

Yeah. I have had it explained that the reason He doesn't stop the bad things is because of free will... people making fucked up choices.

But I don't know, either. And that is the point, I guess.

Thanks for sharing. Knowing I'm not the only one... :-)

Katherine Gunn said...

Hmm... some more thoughts...

I guess it comes to this: did He not stop the bad that happened to me (this could apply to any individual) because He couldn't or wouldn't?

If it is because He couldn't, which I have heard said, then there is something wrong with the idea of Him being all powerful - and that doesn't instill great confidence.

If it is because He wouldn't (which is what I think), I need to know why He would not stop it. Because the answer to that why will define His character - define what Love is. And I guess that is what I need to know...

Erin said...

well you've come to the question I was stewing about a few weeks ago. It's this post, but I only touch on it in the post and then we run with it in the comments.

Either:

God is Powerful
-OR-
God is Good

Because he can't be both, if bad things happen.

Now I am just starting to sort through this...it doesn't change my faith in him, but I am still working to find the answer. Because I need it to make sense.

Katherine Gunn said...

Hmm... I' am not at the place where I think it has to either powerful or good. I think there is something else I am missing....

Hence the question to HIm: "If you could have stopped it (which I believe He could), why didn't You?"

His answer will define His character?

His answer will....maybe left unanswered for now. I don't know. I feel more peace now than I have for a while - but that seems to ebb and flow. I think the answer lies in how things ARE as opposed to how they APPEAR.... we don't see very clearly from down here. :-) I've reminded Him of that, too.....

Erin said...

"I' am not at the place where I think it has to either powerful or good. I think there is something else I am missing...."

Absolutely. This is why it's such a challenge for me...because logic would tell me it's either/or, but I know it can't be. So when asking this question, it's more that I'm trying to sort through the riff-raff and find out what is really true of God.

Katherine Gunn said...

Erin, me too. :-)

A friend has a quote from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe that she applies here... and it is a quote that has followed me through my life, having first read the book when I was 8.

The Penvensie kids are at the Beaver's house hearing about Aslan for the first time. Susan, I think, asks, as Aslan is a lion, "Is he safe?" The Beavers answer, "Safe? Of course he's not safe! But He's good."

My friend and I are finding that by this world's standards - even, maybe, by mortal standards, God is very unsafe. In fact, by those same standards, He is crazy.

But like I said at the end of my post, I know He is Good - deep within me, where there is no doubt. I can't explain it.

Hmm... I have had a very fleeting taste of His - Jesus' - power, up close. And it took me a bit to realize that Love was His power - and it was a force that was... indescribable. And it was not 'safe.' And I don't know what it might ask of me - expect of me - do to me. And therein lies the problem? I felt that power for that fleeting moment, in passing, as it was not directed at me at that moment.

But I want, sometimes, to just disappear into it. But that is a form of running away and not facing...

And I still am not sure what Love demands/expects - what it is like.....

Erin said...

I'm right there with you....love is a force to be reckoned with.

placeofgrace said...

Katherine,
I have no idea what to write, I simply know that I don't know. There is no established route or process that you could follow to find the answers and explanations you need. But I think talking , writing and thinking about it is a good start. I pray that you will find the peace you long for, that healing will come and even if there are scars left, that it would only enhance who you are.

We pray -
Oh - and God does love you, Jesus too!! For a start it means you can expect to be accepted as you are, hurts and warts and all!!!

Katherine Gunn said...

Anette,
Thanks for your kind words. They brought tears to my eyes. That is what I hope is true, but I am not believing it...yet...but we are far from done yet, too. :-)

How is school going.. for you and Laura? How is Nestus doing? And the boys?

deaconandusher said...

Usher: Deak, just how do humans learn to love when they are shown such hatred, feed one another lies and prey on each other? And their parents being victims, pass on the lies to their children. You know, lies like: "You can be anything you want, it's all up to you"...

Deacon: If they could only look at life like we do - hang out, enjoy God's creation, understand that shit happens and that God will provide all the roadkill one needs. Life for them would be so much easier.

Frank said...

I have never been in leadership in church, however shortly before my wife and I finally left the system for good, I was surprisingly asked to conduct an evening discussion meeting.
I wanted to get them to talk about the character of God, from their viewpoint. It was a bit difficult to get things going, but with a little prompting it was easy to direct them along the path I wished to expose. I can't quite remember the prompts and the questions I asked, but they included the likes of the following.

God's will is always done.

God is in control of everything, so nothing happens that he does not ordain.

Everything that happens is because God has ordained it.

The above list grew as we pressed into the subject. There was a lot more similar, which I have found in every church I have visited.
After a while of listening to their "character of God" definitions, I said, "congratulations everyone, you have just defined Allah, the God of Islam."
They where shocked, but it was what they and countless Christians believe.

Islam is all about fatalism.
"Inshallah", a word constantly heard after a tragedy in a Arab community, is the declaration of what happened being the will of Allah.

Islamic belief is so like much of the church. Fatalism is a rottenness that has destroyed the true character of a loving God. How can we pray in faith when we believe the He will do whatever he wanted to do anyway regardless of us!

This is especially true when we also believe that God thinks sickness is good for us!

Your reference below is typical of christianity.
"I have been told that even when a child is raped, God ordained it to bring good from it."

Man has rebelled, not only in the Garden of Eden, but ever since. Unfortunately for man, freewill is one of the cardinal principles of God's character. God is all powerful but will not break his own rules regarding man's freewill.

placeofgrace said...

Hi Katherine
Just wanted to say, I've been here, still thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

Anette

Meg said...

We are so used to having everything packaged for us by the church that we can't seem to get by not knowing things about God. Of course we don't understand, how can we?

It's even worse when you are hurting and angry and want to blame somebody, especiallly an all powerful God, for what happened.

Somebody once said to me, it's OK to question, God isn't going to fall off his throne.

I think questioning is good and hearing other's answers is good and knowing its all going to be sewn up for us one day, but not today, is also good.

May the pain be healed soon please!

Katherine Gunn said...

Meg, hi!

Yes, the questioning (contrary to what the churches I grew up in taught), is okay, even important and encouraged by God.

There is so much that I don't know. And maybe not as much of it is necessary to know as I once thought. That seems to ebb and flow, too.

ian said...

haven't been through what you have been, but i do understand what you going through with life, i am almost in the same boat, i have made enough mistake in my life, i still paying the pain, yes i have turn to God for help, i sometime feel you faith into something in life, i chose god.

Katherine Gunn said...

Ian,

Thanks for stopping by.