Sunday, July 21, 2013
Is there a point?
I skipped church today because I knew it was going to be about suffering. I didn't want to hear it. Suffering is never a favorite topic for any comfortable adult with a bit of security in their life. For those of us for whom that veil has been removed, it is even less favored.
When I saw my doctor Friday, he asked how I was feeling. I told him that I was still a little short of breath if I tried to do too much but that I was most troubled by my forgetfulness and irrational crying episodes. He stopped typing and looked at me. "I have not been through anything like that, but I don't know how I would respond to a brush with death."
It doesn't feel good to hear it put like that. I had spent the week breaking down the tests and the results and the treatments in very manageable bite sized portions for those around me. When I look at the whole, I get queasy.
And that is why I played hooky today. I am not sure if there is purpose in suffering. I can easily say that I need to spend more time caring for myself than others, but that is somewhat trite and is definitely counter intuitive to my entire life's understanding of myself. Perhaps because suffering is a byproduct of a broken world, it is merely confirmation that all is not as it should be. Perhaps it is proof that I am just as vulnerable as anyone else, despite being a follower of Jesus.
Over the years I have spent hours, days, weeks, reviewing incidents with women that they are trying to understand, trying to make sense of something dreadful that happened to them. And each time I remind them that searching for understanding is a way that we (the ones who find themselves powerless) attempt to control the incidents in which we found ourselves out of control.
Because of this, I don't know if there is a point. But here are a few ideas:
Jesus finds me everywhere. This seems simple, and it is, but it is also rich and comforting. At work, waiting for my scan results, in the ER, in my hospital room, at home, in a different church...I cannot find anywhere that he cannot find me. Not that I am trying to get away from him, but whether it was comfort merely from God to my spirit or the incarnational community that loved me...God is near.
I am incredibly blessed. I think I already knew this to an extent, but it has been proven again. Not just in the richness of experience that I have in my life, but in the depth and diversity of my friendships. To have friends and family to pray with me, literally all over the world, and in several states. Just a decade or two ago, I remember thinking how alone I was, how small my world is. Now it is huge, but also more intimate. God knit my world together beautifully.
Dying is easier than living. Yeah, that probably is a no brainer, but it struck me that I am completely comfortable letting go of this world for the next. Certainly the grief that my dearest would suffer is sad, but I am not afraid. Living is much more difficult.
Since my discharge from the hospital, I have wanted to taste, touch, see, feel so many things...life is a sensory buffet right now. It is very weird and a smidge embarrassing to admit it. The much cooler thing is to play off this whole thing as not being too big of a deal...but it is hard to do that when one doc says, "If you had been any older or your heart had any problems, the outcome [of the blood clots in my lungs] would have been devastating," and another doc calls it a "brush with death."
This buffet of life before me requires choices. While I want to try it all, I cannot do it all. How do I care for me and my family if I give it all to you? What activities drain energy but I do them, stubbornly, anyway because I believe there to be some value in it for another? Where is the point when pouring one's self out for another, even for God's work, may disregard the life that God gave me?
Like I said, I am not sure if there is a point, or maybe just that all points point back to Him.
As I stood today in a sanctuary that I had never entered surrounded by the church that I had not met, God found me, and I sobbed, in gratitude, not for health, but simply for Him, with me. "Peace that passes understanding..."