I am different than a lot of people. When things are consistently falling apart in my life, I don’t only like to hear from others that are having train wrecks in their own life, but from those who are actually making it. Though I have become increasingly skeptical of people’s own interpretations of how things are working together for good in their world, I can set aside my skepticism in order to live on their side of the block for a short time and be encouraged. It is a sort of emotional self-preservation. I like to think some people are not only making it, but living the “victorious Christian life.”
I like neat clean stories of how such-and-such terrible thing happened, but look at this wonderful thing that came out of it. Stop there! I don’t want to know anything past this point. I will not follow-up on you. I will not read your blog and don’t call me and give me updates. I don’t want to hear your story in a year or two. Why? Because I know what is going to happen. That wonderful thing that came out of it is going to turn, disappear, or show its dichotomous reality and the story of victory will turn to a story of sorrow. The clean version is all I need.
I suppose that I should not try to live in such a fantasy world. I know that reality is much different. I know that most people are like me and are still waiting for something good to come out of something bad. I also know that we normally never see that something good. Well, at least not today—at least not in the way we think.
(Warning: Stop here if you are desirous to have one of those stories today. There are plenty of other Evangelical blogs out there from people who feel pressured into always manufacturing a victorious-yay-God interpretation of their life. I don’t have one. Not today).
No, I am not in a bad mood, down, or depressed. I am not even really trying to get something off my chest. I just think this is something that needs to be integrated into our God-talk more often so that many of us will not be disillusioned waiting for something good out of something bad.
I suppose the first crack in my all-too-typical posterboy Evangelical naivety came over ten years ago when I was in seminary. It was the first year. Everything that happened was the hand of God moving me and my family into bigger and, most importantly, better things. Ninety-percent of our livelihood came from our home church supporters. I had a part-time job as well. Though things were tough, I was determined to give part of our income to the Lord. “First part for the Lord, then we use whatever is left,” I would tell my wife. When the finances got really bad, my wife encouraged me to use the money to pay the bills rather than give to the Lord. “Nope. First part for the Lord, then we use whatever is left.” I remembered all the stories. Something about shovels and the Lord’s shovel being bigger. Oh, and then there is the “You can’t out give God” thing. However, things did not work out so well. I kept giving and the unpaid bills kept their unpaid status. “You just watch the Lord work,” I would tell my wife. “It will be amazing.” Yep, it was amazing. Soon I had to start borrowing money from people in order to make up for the financial hole I was putting my family in. Nothing “good” was coming out of this. It was at this time that I began to rethink some things. Sometimes there is a point when your interpretation of Scripture just does not work out in real life.
I love all the stories about how God comes through just at the right time, and I even still believe some of them. However, “coming through” is getting pretty subjective.
There are so many things that I am still waiting for something good to come out of it.
Still waiting for something good to come out of my sister’s death. From my perspective, in the things that are most visible, there has not been too much good. We have not seen her son Drew in six years. Mom never recovered. My sister still cries. And my dad cannot forgive himself. And I still don’t know how to help people out of that type of depression.
Still waiting for something good to come out of my mom’s aneurysm and stroke. Mom was 56 when she had it. Its been four years. Hope has turned into a nightmarish reality. She will not recover any more. She can’t speak. She can’t walk. Can’t move her left side. Can’t see out of her right eye. Most of the time she has the demeanor of a four-year-old. She sits in a chair all day watching the same movies over and over again. She has gained over fifty-pounds and we can hardly move her without our backs going out. I know she wants to die, but she can’t. In truth, it seems as if my mom died four years ago and was replaced by someone else. Yes, we love and care for this someone else very much, but it is not the same. I wait to see the change God works through this. I try to manipulate things into a positive, but there is really not much to find. Its all bad and getting worse.
Still waiting for something good to come out of me and my wife’s differences. Kristie and I are nothing alike. Personality wise, we are from different planets solar systems. This not only causes friction and misunderstanding in our marriage, but it also keeps us from being close in so many ways that we wish we could be. They say opposites attract, and I am sure that this is the case in many people’s marriages, but it is not really the case with us. Our opposites detract. While we love and are committed to each other, our relationship is clumsy and awkward. There just does not seem to be good coming out of the differences.
I could go on, but I will spare you.
Denise Spencer has written about this speaking to the atypical “Christian” experience she had with Michael (the Internet Monk’s) death. It does not get any more real than that.
I suppose that this is why I don’t really like popular Christian music, but I do like country (. . . waiting for boos to stop). Christian music is simply too cliché. It does not seem to live in the real world, Christian or otherwise. They seem pressured to talk about victories in life while ignoring the nagging elephants that don’t make sense. However, country music has it all.
Speaking of country music, Alan Jackson sings a song that sums up my thoughts pretty well.
Here in the Real World:
Cowboys don’t cry,
And heroes don’t die.
And good always wins
Again and again.
And love is a sweet dream
That always comes true
Oh, if life were like the movies,
I’d never be blue.
But here in the real world,
It’s not that easy at all,
‘Cause when hearts get broken,
It’s real tears that fall.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe the Bible. I believe Romans 8:28. I believe everything that God has ever said. I simply am not so confident that I always understand him.
I am still waiting for good to come out of so many things. I would wager that most of you are as well. However, so many times I must simply be content that God knows what he is doing, even if he does not show me how it works out. I guess that is part of trusting him here in the real world.