Emotional Fragility and the Need For God

For some reason, I’ve been a little verklempt lately. (In your best Michael Myers voice of course). I suppose some will tell me that I’ve been through a lot of stress triggers this year. My heart blockage in January, my recent surgery, and my son’s upcoming wedding in October. To top that off, I’m doing the woman in her 40s marriage thing whereby I blame my husband for not “being there” emotionally for me. Sex used to be the issue. Now it’s all the parts leading up to it that he has to work on. Oy. So forgive me if I sit in front of the TV and start crying while watching Garden State, a fine, fine movie by Zach Braff by the way. Forgive me if the new kitten we found can send me into paroxysms of love and devotion. What’s up with all that??? So is it any wonder I feel a resurgence in my faith in God? I don’t know why the need is there, it just is. I can’t say why I feel hounded by God every day, I just am. Jemila Monroe over at Emerging Women writes in her profile:

The most important person/being in my life is God, but he/she seems to play “hard to get” with me. I wonder what that’s about. Divine seduction? Development of character? Something wrong with me? Or is God shy around girls like me? Or maybe God’s butt is in my face and it’s so huge I can’t see anything else!

I’m laughing right now, because I think God’s “butt” is also in my face, day after day, no matter how hard I intellectually wish him away. I’m beginning to think it’s a genetic thing. But greater minds have examined this phenomenon. I’m sure that Martin Luther found God’s “butt” in his face on a regular basis, hence his need to outline an explanation for the phenomenon. Luther writes in his Smaller Catechism:

The Third Article.

Of Sanctification.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; one holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?–Answer.

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.

Note the words “calls” and “keeps.” What does this mean? I think it means that Jesus/God calls people to be the church. Can we believe ourselves part of the church, do all the right things, and become all the right things yet still fail to be “called?” Yes, we can. Are we deceiving ourselves if it doesn’t work out? Perhaps. Whose fault is it then? Well, God’s. We cannot “keep” ourselves in faith anymore than we can keep ourselves breathing. We just do it without thinking. The air (faith) is there and we can’t help but take it in.

Reading through the book of John one can’t help but realize that this “calling,” or more theologically, this foreknowledge of God, is very much beyond our control, something that really rankles the Pelagian set and has spurred controversy for centuries. John 10 reads:

25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish —ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” (HCS, Emphasis mine)

From this, and similar passages, I have to intuit that there are believers and unbelievers because God wills both. It is completely out of my hands which of these I am. If I am hounded by God, I must be destined to believe God. Why else does this unmitigated trust in an Almighty Genderless Spirit come back to haunt me?

Why should I fight then my destiny? Why should I waste energy saying “No, I will not believe. It’s dumb. There’s no proof?” Does God play hard to get with me as Monroe believes God does with her? Yes, but only in the sense that I started it first. I’m playing hard to get as well. I am fighting against the goad so to speak. I’m a stubborn, unwilling sheep, off eating my own version of “good grass,” grazing outside the pen, so to speak, daring the wolves to come eat me. Before I realize it, I’ve put myself in danger of straying too far and Jesus has to come out and find me again. That whole “one out of 99” thing going on. Do I think I’m special? No. Do I have proof of this? No. But I feel I need it, kind of like getting enough air or sex. Both are necessary to physical wellbeing and both relax me. Faith makes me feel that all is right with the world; that all is being looked after.

So now what do I do? Return to my community? I don’t know. But the connectedness is there, still. That’s evident from the support I’ve received this week. My challenge must therefore be, to continually say, “not my will, but Thine…”

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