The Heart of the Matter

This is all kind of hard to describe, and I am a little concerned about painting a wrong picture.  However, I will do my best to explain and hope that is adequate.  I don’t want to either exaggerate or minimize the problem.

I want to emphasize that I really am at peace in the Father’s love and acceptance.  There is nothing in me that believes that I must strive or perform for His approval or blessing.  Maybe that is the point.  As my understanding of Him has become more beautiful, my lack of trust becomes more incongruent with what I know to be true.

I no longer accept pat answers and formulas about faith and prayer.  I do not think God needs me to exaggerate or reframe the facts to protect His image.  The only thing I know to do in the face of unanswered prayer is to simply keep asking, knowing that intervention was never dependent on me.  So, I haven’t quit asking, but I see that miraculous responses seem to be a rare exception.  Perhaps the biggest change is that I gave up any illusion that I can somehow elicit the miraculous response.

The past year has been really difficult for me.  Nothing in comparison to what others suffer, but there have been days I wondered if I could stand the pressure.   I became more sarcastic and cynical (I know, shocking) which made it somewhat obvious that I was basically angry.  The anger was rooted in the fact that I was overwhelmingly disappointed and frustrated.  So much of my life seemed beyond my control, and there seemed to be nothing I could do to avoid the pain or change the circumstances.

The whisper of the enemy that I struggle with the most is, “You are on your own.”  This plays itself out in many different ways in my life.  In this case, when things get difficult, I grit my teeth and try to buck up.  Aside from prayers thrown up for a change of circumstance, I have not leaned into God’s love or care because while my head knows that He is always with me, my heart believed that I was on my own.

That’s enough for today, and I will write one more post explaining how I am dealing with my unbelieving heart.

I’ll end with this quote from Richard Rohr:

I will offer you a simple litmus test to determine whether a person has healthy or unhealthy religion. What do they do with their pain—even their daily little disappointments? Do they transform their pain or do they transmit it?

We all have pain—it’s the human situation, we all carry it in a big black bag behind us and it gets heavier as we get older: by betrayals, rejections, disappointments, and wounds that are inflicted along the way. If we do not find some way to transform our pain, I can tell you with 100% certitude we will transmit it to those around us.

At the end of life, and probably early in life, too, the question is, “What do I do with this disappointment, with this absurdity, with this sadness?”


17 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter

  1. Through my life I have had times of confusion and pain. Much less than some and more than others. The biggest thing that the Father has taught me is that my trust needs to be in him. Not in what I have been told that he will do, or even in what I believe he will do. In him alone. That is the only way that my pain can be transformed.

  2. A resonating post. How to deal with the pain and disappointment seems to be a theme for my wife and I lately. Can you tell where that quote from Richard Rohr comes from? I’d be interested in reading more what he has to say.

    And looking forward to your post regarding how you’ve been responding in your own heart.

  3. Grace, I get that daily devotion to (fantastic, isn’t it?) and it so resonated with me this morning when I read it. I love what your first commenter, Fred, said. Our trust is in God as Love, not on what God will or will not do for us. I think that is the only thing that transforms our pain, connecting with God on that level.

    I know over the past year all of my pain has been transformed into joy. If someone had told me that was even possible 18 months ago I would have laughed at the mere thought. But since I’m living it, I know it’s possible…and wonderful.

    Hugs to you as you continue your journey…straight into the arms of Love.

  4. “I no longer accept pat answers and formulas about faith and prayer.”

    Amen. The problem with formulas is that they are so conditional upon every ingredient being precise. That would require every person who would seek to use the formula to have identical temperaments, life experiences, cultural norms, etc. Unfortunately for the ‘formula peddlers’, humanity is extremely organic and there is no such thing as precise life-ingredients. We are each of us completely unique, and God recognizes and treats us as such. I wish Christians (particularly teachers and preachers) would stick to principles and stop with the formulas. God knows my temperament, my life experiences, my cultural norms, etc. better than even I do. I think I can trust that He will “provide my proper way of escape” from my misconceptions and predicaments much better than the ‘formula peddlers’ can. They’re usually trying to sell something. God’s always trying to do something to complete me. A couple of years ago I received one of those sappy plaques that you generally see in a Christian bookstore. I usually don’t keep them, but this one was given to me by a neighbor who was a very marginal believer. I sat and mostly listened to her as she was going through a very deep and dark valley in her life. I didn’t give her any formulas. I just listened and sympathized, and ocassionally prayed for her. Somehow she credited me with helping her through it and gave me the plaque which now sits on my desk. It reads:

    “Just think, you’re here not by chance, but by God’s choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else – You are one of a kind. You lack nothing His grace can’t give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special prupose for this generation.”

    I cherish it mostly because of who it came from. I suspect she carefully selected it for its message, and that it somehow contains an expression of gratitude for what she got out of our relationship, and an expression of encouragement for me.

    I now offer the same expression to you for the same reasons.

  5. My last post in many ways is very similar to this – the enemy whispered other things in my ear but I am discovering the closer I grow to Him the less the noise and clutter from the outside do I hear.

    1. Not a chance that you add to the whispers. You have always been a reminder of God’s goodness to me, and I thank God for you.

  6. Grace,

    With you all the way, friend — never alone…never. That is the biggest lie of the Enemy, and it is facilitated by the “normal” masks worn in church that preclude transparency. Sigh….

    I am still processing — when will I ever get back to blogging? — Wayne Jacobsen’s “He Loves Me” and am reading the follow-up book, “Authentic Community” and have be challenged by the call to absolute trust that works itself out in the messiness of life.

    There are no pat answers. Life is difficult. But we are called to gather together to spur one another on to love and good deeds…thanks for all that you do, sister.

  7. Grace,
    I’m really glad you decided to share this part of your journey.
    I hope I don’t seek validation from people (or consciously try not to) but it is nice to know that I am not alone in all of this. Our experiences are vastly different, but in all of this questioning and re-examining I no longer feel alone.
    The quote in Ken’s comment is the one that really jumped out at me too. I would take it even further to include almost all matters of what it means to follow Christ. I can’t just accept the standard rebuttal answers that I still hear people repeating.
    I think God is far more complicated than we ever really comprehend, but Salvation is far more simple than we ever imagined.
    Any way thanks so much for blogging because your struggle is an inspiration.
    Peace be with You

  8. I liked this Grace:

    “I gave up any illusion that I can somehow elicit the miraculous response”

    For me, I am at peace trusting God with my heart even though I cannot understand His ways with my head.

  9. Ahhhh….I need to get over here more often. This (and all the other posts I just got caught up on) was just beautiful. So much resonates, so much I can relate too… Good, good stuff.

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