I have started to exercise again after a long period of inactivity. I’m two weeks in and I am no longer having to lay on the floor thinking I will faint during my workout. Progress!! On Saturday my husband and I went to a local gym for a workout class. We are in our late forties and no longer look like we did in our twenties. As I walked on the treadmill I looked at people in the mirror. About half of them were young women in their 20s, fit and skinny. Old familiar thoughts began to swirl around in my brain.
Have you ever heard someone say, “A loving God could never allow so much suffering in the world,” as a way to defend their unbelief? It is a hard argument to get past. It is hard because we think God should be someone we can understand. We think God should be someone who acts like we would act if we were God. We think if he doesn’t make sense to us, we don’t want to follow him.
The truth is we shouldn’t be able to understand God.
Today is the due date for a baby I lost twenty years ago. Her (I don’t know the gender but always think of her as a girl) birthday would have been around April 11, 1997. This was the second baby I had miscarried in the course of a few months and the loss I felt was profound. There hasn’t been an April 11th that has gone by since then that I haven’t thought about it and calculated what her age would be now. I remember a particular evening soon after I lost the baby when the pain was overwhelming and I cried out, “Why?” I was struggling to understand how that could have happened to me.
I knew that suffering existed in the world.
It doesn’t take much to send me into a tailspin. I can be plugging along, going to Bible studies, working for my kids’ school, volunteering, managing the household, parenting, attending school events, teaching Sunday school and writing. A negative comment on SOMEONE ELSE’S blog can make me feel a little uneasy realizing that I could get a comment like that. Thinking about that possibility can make me start questioning my choice to blog, how busy I am, and why I am doing each of the things I am doing. I really can head into a very existential, meta-type discussion with myself inside my own head. It’s annoying.
Thinking through these questions is not a terrible thing.
You know that feeling you got as a kid when you knew you had done something wrong and were about to get in a lot of trouble? I was a pretty good kid, so when I got that feeling, it was intense. I remember being about five years old when I was playing with my doll. In my imagination, my doll had to go to the bathroom and she needed privacy. So, I put her in the (only) bathroom, locked the door and closed it. I got that sinking feeling immediately after hearing that click of the door lock engaging. My dad had to take the entire doorknob off the door to get it open. I don’t think I got in that much trouble. The guilt alone made me feel miserable.
What if I write my husband a love letter, and send it to him at work. He is busy, so he sets it aside. It gets covered with a stack of papers and files. Days go by and he forgets about it. I’m waiting to hear his response, but he says nothing about it. A week or so later he is sorting his desk out and notices the letter. He knows he should read it, but now feels a little guilty that he didn’t read it when he received it. So, he opens the bottom drawer and drops it in there. When he finds it months later, he gets annoyed at me because I’ve made him feel guilty, and again puts it away without reading it.
I have always loved trees. I think a lush landscape, thick with trees in leaf and in bloom, is the most beautiful landscape in the world. Seeing the redwood trees in northern California evokes awe for the creator in me. Trees that are so big, so tall and so majestic remind me that our creator is amazing, so creative and so powerful. Being in the presence of such beauty helps me know a little more about my God.
Do you remember before texting became prevalent, when churches put up electronic signs that would flash numbers during the service? This was pretty advanced technology at the time. Each child in the nursery was assigned a number which was given to the parents. If your number appeared, it was a message that you needed to come and check on your child; they were hungry or unhappy or hurt. When our oldest was in the nursery we were typical nervous parents. Those first few times leaving her in the church nursery I went and checked on her when any number came up on the electronic sign. I figured if one child was screaming, my girl might not be getting the attention she needed and I would go take her off their hands. One time I remember our number was 245 (or something similar). Up on the screen, 346 flashed. I went and checked because they might have entered the wrong number. It was off by one in two places. Maybe I was looking for an excuse to check on my baby!
I really don’t like most shopping. I hate grocery shopping, always have. Clothes shopping makes me hyper aware of my body, and makes me feel lousy. I typically get my clothes online so I can avoid the fitting room at all costs. The only kind of shopping I love to do is décor and house shopping. I could spend all day in IKEA or furniture stores, and Homegoods-type stores are heaven to me.