there is a story about a jewish man who went to visit a famous rabbi after the holocaust. he told the rabbi, “rabbi, after what i witnessed in the camps, i will never again be religious. there was one man there who managed to smuggle in a prayer book. every day he would charge the starving prisoners part of their ration of moldy bread to pray from that book. rabbi, these men were walking skeletons, yet dozens of them would line up every day to use that book. they barely had the energy to shuffle along in the line to pray from that book, and then off to work, where several of them would die each day from hunger and exhaustion. but this selfish corrupt man would demand their measly bread crusts in order to let them use his book. rabbi, after seeing how corrupt this supposedly religious man was, how could i ever again call myself religious?”
the rabbi was quiet for a moment, and then he responded, “it’s interesting that you are troubled by the one man who charged the rations to pray from the prayer book rather than be inspired by the dozens who were willing to line up and pay it.”
perspective is everything.
today i have an interesting struggle. today i am troubled by months.
although i can explain nuclear fusion with some level of confidence and speak clearly on a number of other somewhat impressive topics, today i am having trouble figuring out the order of february, march, and april.
lots of things are happening over the next few months, and i’m trying to plan for them and keep them straight, but i’m having a rather hard time of it. i’m making lots of lists (and yes, i’m checking them twice), but i’m having a hard time with being jumbled up.
and that’s a day in the life of julie.
when i first got sick (massive brain infection- feel free to go back and read about it; i’m sure i’ve blogged about it before), someone told me the following parable:
a shopkeeper sits in his stall in the marketplace. he sells pots and pans and various housewares. when a promising customer approaches, he chooses the strongest, toughest pot and picks it up and bangs it with a rock. he smashes it good and hard to show how strong and durable it is. he knows that the quality is good, and he is showcasing his finest products. sometimes the customer will buy, and sometimes not, but the shopkeeper knows just how tough his merchandise is. so day after day, this show is repeated. he doesn’t hit his pots to abuse them; he thrashes them to show them off.
this is god’s people. sometimes he chooses the strong ones to hold up and say, “look at my people. look at their strength. look at how they withstand adversity.” he thrashes us to showcase our strength.
she told me this to shore me up. she told me this to make me feel strong and brave. she told me this to help make sense of the tragedy that was becoming my life.
and it made me feel disconsolate. it made me feel hopeless. it made me feel afraid.
why am i typing these unrelated things? because my mind is a jumble and i don’t know the months. i’m hoping that my hands will make some sense of what my brain can’t. i’m hoping that my hands will subvert my brain somehow and put some order to my jumble.
but it doesn’t seem to be working.
one more and i’ll let you go.
there was some email making the rounds a long while back. it was a whole list of things like:
i asked god for patience, so he gave me trials so i could learn patience.
i asked god for wisdom, so he gave me struggles so i could grow from them and become wise.
i asked god for a million things, and instead of just giving me what i asked for, god gave me a bunch of hassles and hardships so i could earn whatever it was that i obviously felt like i really needed so i was asking god for.
i know a lot of people who are very inspired by that.
but i don’t like to think that god is out to trick you. i don’t like to think that god plays ‘gotcha!’ with our lives. i don’t like to think that praying is a bad joke where god is rubbing his hands together with a wicked grin on his face just waiting for me to ask for something in the wrong way so he can give me some awful test and say “AHA! you asked for it!”
i don’t like to think that god doesn’t want me to know what day comes after today or what month we are in or when my kids were born.
i don’t like to think that life is a minefield and i have to watch every step and i have to live in fear and calculate every move with a sense of foreboding.
my kids are learning to be more patient and more kind and more giving and more independent and more compassionate.
but i don’t know one single person who says, “you know what? i’m glad i had to grow up too fast and be deprived of a childhood because i learned some really valuable life skills. it was actually a blessing that my life was so hard. gee wizz, i’m darn grateful.”
insert sanity here _________________________________________________________________________________