I had a bit of a spiritual tantrum a few weeks ago. For weeks prior my counselor and I had been discussing my spiritual life and the tenacity with which I hold on to the rules. She gently nudged me into the realization that deep down I believed that if I held up my end of the good Christian bargain, if I read my Bible every day, spent some time in prayer (albeit the 3 minutes I have of peace every day when Levi is on the potty) and if in general, I upheld all of my “good girl” values that God would in turn hold up His end of the bargain and be, you know, nice to me. It’s a long convoluted story that I am sure I will share eventually when I’ve cleaned it up enough to be appropriate, but the short version is, for reasons seemingly unbeknownst to me, God stopped holding up His end of the bargain. And after a few months of being “patient” and searching for the hidden meaning in pain and desperately seeking the so called life lesson I truly believed was in there somewhere, I just pitched a fit. I yelled and screamed and cried and broke up with God for a few days. Greg watched patiently from the sidelines and my closest friends did what they all do best and all loved me despite the fact that they weren’t sure where I was going with all this. I gave in to all of my built up frustrations and anger towards God for not simply “fixing” things and I sported a preschooler sized, tantrum complete with throwing myself on the ground and holding my breath for way too long.
It’s been a few weeks since my little hissy fit and I’ve been sitting with God in my little trench for a little bit now. I finally relented and invited Him to simply sit with me for a while in all of my sadness, angst and sometimes joy. There has been no huge revelation or breakthrough but there has been a quietness around my life since then. And its different than the silence I felt like I was experiencing before from God, its more just quiet.
I saw “Inside Out” last week and of course, like so many other people, it blew my mind. There is moment in the movie where Sadness is comforting another character. Joy, who obviously feels like she has the corner on comfort, is standing to the side begging Sadness not to make it worse. Sadness just sits there next to the broken down character and speaks words of affirmation…of sadness. She doesn’t deliver a cheer up speech or give the devastated character a list of reasons why its not all that bad. Sadness just sits in sadness. She recognizes how hard the sadness is. She empathizes with the devastation and the hopelessness of the situation. She cries tears of solidarity and companionship. And the character who is so devastated cries even harder with her. He sobs and snorts and for a brief minute it gets so much worse. And then it gets quiet. This quiet is quickly followed by a newly created “can do” spirit but for a moment, all is quiet. There is just the deep breathing that can only follow a really good and necessary cry.
The quiet is where the world begins to right itself again. There is nothing dramatic in the quiet, it is simply bringing the world back to the starting point again. There is a unique comfort in the quiet.
I am in the quiet. The sobbing is over. The yelling is done. The fit has been thrown and the tears have stopped flowing. And it is very quiet. There is nothing but even breathing and a peace that can only come after you have thrown the fit. There are no real answers and no plan to fix the world but Hope begins to take life in the quiet. Hope believes that the story is not over. Hope clings to the fact that things will always get better…if you are wiling to be flexible in your definition of better. There have been no big answers to prayer and in all honesty, everything physically and emotionally hurts just as much as it did before the tantrum, but rather than waiting for God to rescue me because I have checked all of the right boxes, He and I are sitting in the quiet and breathing together.
I’ve stopped dictating to God when and how He can bring about resurrection to all of these dead things in my life and I’ve simply started sitting at the grave sites with Him, mourning the losses. There isn’t a lot of action in the mourning but there is a quiet peace and the small hint of the belief that He is mourning too. I’ve come to believe that His mourning is a bit more complex than mine because not only does He feel the bitterness and sadness that comes from my frustration and pain but He is mourning for the people and circumstances that I mourn for too. And somehow knowing that He mourns with all of us doesn’t make me feel any less significant to Him but makes me feel all that more cherished and cared for. He cares for the things I care for, even more so than I do.
Last week in church during communion, I asked God why He wasn’t doing anything about all these heartaches that plague me. I wasn’t accusing and I wasn’t angry, and I wasn’t even trying to figure anything out. It was as if the “Why” just couldn’t be left alone in my soul. And in that particular moment of quiet I felt God said, “I am doing something. It just happens to all be within you and not with any of these external problems you have identified for me to make better. I am “doing” with you right now.”
I’m only hitting the tip of the iceberg right now, I know, in all that God desires to show me about who He really is but for right now the Quiet is just where I need to be.