A couple of months ago someone was talking about me, and they described me as someone who had a “messy spirituality.” They did not mean this as a compliment, but I took it as one, anyway.
I’m one of those people that think, “Hey, I’m a mess. It’s ‘ok’ with me if you’re a mess. Let’s be in the mess together.” It’s no secret that I’m angry with God. I have been through a lot and I think he can take it. It’s not that I don’t think he’s good. I do. I think that he loves me and wants what’s best for me. But, I think that if he thinks that widowhood, with all its pain, is what’s best for me then he’s kind of an asshole. I’ve been pretty honest with him about that.
A few years ago my sister went to visit my nephew. Every time she would come to visit she would come in and say, “Guess what I have for you?” This time, when she arrived, the little guy, totally conditioned, said, “What do you have for us?” His mom was of course mortified, and everyone laughed, because Ellie actually did have special surprises for him, and it was really so cute. But, I think of this often in my relationship with Papa, the name that I’ve been calling God after reading “the Shack.” I think that I don’t want to only come to him when I need something, asking him, “What do you have for me?” I think that hurts his feelings. So I try to talk to him in a way that communicates more the way that I’m feeling. I try to tell him what I’m thinking about certain things, even though I know he already knows.
A few weeks ago, I was doing just this. I was telling him that I feel frustrated. This frustration was, as it typically is, about being alone. About having no partner. About the confusion of why he allowed my partner to be taken away. I was just telling him how I felt about all of this, not asking him for anything. And, for the first time, I felt him giving me a promise. I have lots of friends who have told me “He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” This is a reference to a scripture, but I feel sure that God has not promised me that (I do, however, love that they believe that for me, and believe that if God has promised them that for me, then please, continue believing, hold that space for me!). One of the things that I struggle with so deeply is the realization that God has broken no promises to me. God didn’t promise me that my husband would live to be old. He didn’t promise me a baby and a family. But, as I was talking to him about my frustration a few weeks ago, the Paul Simon song popped into my head. It’s the one about "I will not give you false hope." It was so clear to me that God was promising me that.
Now, let me be clear. I have no idea what it means in a practical sense. In the midst of my frustration about being alone I want to believe that God was promising me whatever I want. But that’s not the case. He wasn’t promising me a husband and a baby. He was promising me HOPE. And I’ll take it.
Clearly, he knows me. He didn’t promise me a nice, neat little scripture. That’s not the way my mind and my heart work. He promised me a Paul Simon song. That’s the messy spirituality that makes me tick. That’s the Papa that I love.