Since I was laid off almost a year and a half ago I’ve really been struggling with a lot of things, but they all seem to center on God. I don’t necessarily blame my layoff from the church on my downward spiral – certainly it was part of the whole, but there’s been a lot of stuff before and since that has taken me to where I am now.
I thought about it today and the best I can describe it is like this: my life a year and a half ago was just a few small pieces of yarn all bunched up. It was crazy and confusing and a little messy, but for the most part it could be sorted out and all the loose ends could be tied up. Now, though, it seems like I have a lot more little strings in that pile of yarn – some are frayed, broken, burned; others are thinned out and barely recognizable. I’ve been looking at this pile of yarn – my life- for quite some time now, and it’s just been freaking me out. It’s a huge, unmanageable pile and I can’t find a beginning or end anywhere. It’s just a big knotted mess.
That’s my life right now. I’m a big mess. I am horribly in debt and feel like a financial failure. I have a son that I don’t know. I have two parents who are aging and it’s a little (or a lot, actually) scary to see. I have no employment, or hopes for employment. I have a gigantic crack in my windshield. My car is miraculously losing oil somewhere. Nearly all of my relationships have crumbled. Divorced. And my faith in God is waning by the day. A big knotty mess.
I’ve struggled with God because it seems like He’s never there, or, He’s there but He’s just not helping me out. Certainly there are more important things in this world to be handled than me and my whining – famine, war, poverty, hatred. But I don’t know, I guess I was under the impression that God would be there for me when I needed Him, you know? I’ve struggled with the whole ‘ask and it will be given to you’ thing. I haven’t even been asking greedily. All I want is a job – I want to earn an income to deal with all the other stuff in my life. I’ve begged and pleaded, but I seem to get nowhere. In the past year and a half I’ve had one job interview. (I know the economy’s bad, but isn’t God more powerful than the economy?)
And so, with this struggling faith and seemingly lack of response from God, everything else has just built up on top of everything else, making my knotty mess an even bigger knotty mess.
With much prodding from some friends and family I decided to at least go to church. I snuck into the Presbyterian Church five minutes after it started and sat quietly in the pew. I didn’t sing along to the songs. I didn’t do the responsive readings. I didn’t let my mind wander about inspecting the construction of the room. I focused on the sermon and ducked out the second it was over.
The message was on the 10 lepers found in Luke 17:12-19. Jesus and the disciples entered a village…ten lepers saw Jesus and said “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us” (KJV). Mercy…they asked for mercy…the Greek word here is eleeo from eleos meaning ‘compassion’ – they didn’t ask Him to heal them. They asked Him to show them compassion – kindness, care…recognition. These men were standing far off – not just from Jesus, but from everyone. Their family members, other villagers, visitors, animals – everything was far off from them. All they wanted from Jesus was a little recognition, a little kindness, someone to actually acknowledge their existence.
And Jesus did them one better. He not only spoke to them, he told them to go and show themselves to the priests (since the priests were the ones who determined who was clean and unclean from leprosy). He did more than look their way; he did more than they asked. He healed them. He restored them to their families and friends. He brought them back from the outside and gave them a new life. He gave them what they really needed; what they really wanted in their heart of hearts.
Honestly, my problems aren’t solved. I have more questions now than I did before. I’m still lost, confused…messy. I don’t know if Jesus is going to do one better than what I’m asking for. I don’t know if He’s going to answer any of my prayers. I don’t know if my relationships will be healed, if I’ll ever get a job or get out of debt or find out where my car’s oil is going.
All I can do is wait, keep talking to Him and wait some more. I’m a big knotty mess. But sooner or later it’ll all be straightened out.
much love. sheth.