Monday, January 16, 2006

Shaking the Despair Monkey

My family has been fighting the despair monkey lately. We're inside the proverbial lightless tunnel as it were. Usually it's Mrs. Zeke that is holding it all together while I buzz around inside my fretting skull, but even she is worn down to the nub.

I wish I could talk about all those times when I fell on my face before God and plead for mercy and received it... but if it came I missed it. I don't do that anymore. I'm sure my wife would say that now is the time to do it, and that there's no telling how much mercy we've already received, and that could all well be true. All I can say is that I don't have faith that God will fix my crap. He surely could, but I don't get anymore that that's what he's about. Some days it rains, some days it doesn't, and some days you wake up and find a bad dream has just begun. God is no respecter of persons that way. For all the passionate testimony about how good God is to his children and the power of prayer, I can say with utter conviction that life is painful and difficult, and God is not God so that he can spare us from it. This is one thing about Americhurch that can drive me to drink, this sentimental gushy Chicken Soup for the Soul happy endings baloney. We can't deal with life on its own terms, so we need a cosmic release valve, a holy antidote, a supernatural salve. Anything to make the people in pain stop their crying so we can have a nice pleasant potluck in the Fellowship Hall. Put 'em on the prayer list, Sister Margaret.

Sometimes life is just damned hard, and we keep on doing the right thing anyway. As I like to say, The right thing to do is the right thing to do because it's the right thing to do. Not because of the reward or favor with God. Not because it "comes around." We walk the walk because that's what we do if we are who we say we are. That's where real integrity comes in.

Anyway, that's where I'm at. And God is still God, Jesus is still Jesus, and when I wake up tomorrow morning all this stuff with still be there. But every episode of anxiety and despair I've ever had has passed, and if I live long enough this one will too. Life is still a beautiful and mysterious, fabulous enterprise... none the less when we can be honest about how much it can hurt sometimes. All the more, in fact.

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