Sunday, June 5, 2011

7 Years Later: The Goodness of God

It seems I have always had an intense emotional relationship with God.  I would not describe it as devout, but maybe...ever present.  I talk to him about everything: my fears, my hopes, my thighs. 

Like I said earlier, I didn't deal with the big theological questions as one might expect.  I was too sick and overwhelmed to do that.  (Truthfully, it hasn't been until the last year or so that I have even wanted to delve into this study.  I have had all the books on my shelf for years, but perhaps I needed to feel safe (?) enough with God, myself, and others in order to "go there.").  But, I was conversing with God an awful lot: my constant companion, solace, confidante.

As we talked, strange things came out of me.  And I do mean strange - like actual pictures of shoe designs, two or three at a time, that bordered on the strength of how others describe visions.  (I know!  Strange!  I might guess this had to do with my right brain having more space to operate...but then again, I'm a dork).  But also, strangely "normal" things:  I want to fall in love, I want a family, I want to complete that triathlon, I want to travel.  Normal seems like heaven when it has been stripped away.

One morning it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Literally, I was walking around in my little apartment and I fell to the ground sobbing.  This was not physical; this was spiritual.  "I am praying to God about the deepest desires of my heart - why?  Does he care?  I mean, is he good? "

I sobbed my eyes out, "I don't feel you are good.  I have lived like you are good, but do I really know this?  I have worked through the "issues" around this, but do I really know this?   Are you good?" 

I had been exposed to incredible suffering: poverty, loss, illness; but it was not my own.  I had had childhood illness, teenage angst, identity crises, some scary situations, but they had all resolved in their own due time.  Maybe I thought, deep down, that I was exempt because I was "getting it right"...maybe.  I wasn't aware, I didn't "know" this though; it certainly wasn't conscious.  Now, though, I was in the unexempt category - starkly - and "due time" did not apply. 

So the goodness of God was on the table.  My lifelong, trusted companion was in question.  Was this the death of my imaginary friend?  Because if God is not good, what is the point?
It was out there.  Some relief was found even in this most basic of questions.  I "knew" in my head that lightening would not shoot down from heaven, but now I felt it.  I had questioned my God's character and I lived to tell about it.  At least He is that good.

(And with that, I will retire from this topic.  There are tons of good books out there by people far smarter than me on this topic.  I am not encouraging a formula to relationship with God or pretending to have studied this well;  I am just telling my story to honor the pain and this experience of having some emotional distance from it.  As personal testimony, I will say that the compelling part of the Christian faith is that Jesus answers the question about the imaginary friend, and addresses issues around suffering and its process that are the opposite of condemning - although us Christians are often the opposite. This is one of my deepest griefs for my Church.  Christ is freeing).

Saturday, June 4, 2011

7 Years Later: A Deal with God

It was quickly decided that I should start MS medication along with all the crazy medication to help my body/brain recover from this injury.  MS meds are injectibles that have pretty severe side effects.  Many people that are diagnosed chose not to use them for various reasons, but a major reason is the side effects.  I decided to give them a try since my path seemed clear at this point.

 (By the way, there is tons of exciting, breaking research, on MS and treatment for it.  For more info on the disease and its treatment visit

My saint of a mother had this wild, (and genius), idea: take the full FMLA allowance of 6 weeks off right away.  She gave me good reasons for my practical mind: to be with family, adjust to the medication, make some initial lifestyle changes, and let my mind and body heal.  

“But, what if this happens again?  I need that time just in case.”  

“Honey, if this happens again I am coming to get you and you are living with me.”  


And then I made a deal with God.  “God.  If this happens again, I am going home.”  (Back to family's home in Maryland.  I was in Colorado going to Seminary.  Like, as in, I had a call to ministry and was going to grad school for it; hence, the direct deal with God).   I did not worry about the cosmic questions at that point: did God do this?  Did He allow it?  Could he have stopped it?  I just simply said it; I was certain.  (Decisiveness in crisis is key).

The one thing that is certain about the diagnosis of MS, is that nothing is certain.  The diagnosis carries a ton of weight, but actually predicts very, very little.  But I was certain, that if I had another "episode,"  I was going home to momma.  (And Dad.  Who was also a saint.  Maybe more later on his two week stay in a one bedroom apartment with his physically, emotionally unhinged 25 year old daughter.  Definitely a saint.). 

I think I should have been a little more specific with God, though.  Because I said, "If THIS happens again."  Too specific.  But again, I get ahead of myself.  That was September, October, November, etc.  I'm still in July and August - with a lot of time on my hands.