I have not lost hope though I have lost the ability to hear God. Whether God is silent, which I doubt, or whether the pain throbs too loudly in my heart’s chamber to hear, I don’t know.
What my family is experiencing is not suffering. Life is hard and this distinction is important to me. There is true suffering going on in the world. This is not that.
There are people who I like to call Shiny Happy Christians. I don’t understand them in any way, except to say they must not have not experienced real pain. Not yet. I’m uncomfortable around them, but I don’t blame them. Pain and suffering in this life is random I believe.
The randomness of pain is poignant when you are the one experiencing its sting.
Life is misery, life is joy.
For much of my life I thought: “If I was better child. If I were pure of heart” then my father would be less angry and controlling. And my mother would come alive again. And perhaps I would feel less of the constant melancholy that clouded my days. But my actions, my heart, my prayers, my understanding of the Bible seemed to change nothing in my mother or father and the melancholy hovered, always.
My faith became ritual. I began to doubt God. I never thought, in my teen years, WHY was our family so sad, and angry, and afraid, and dangerous? Rather, I supposed that I must deserve this pain somehow.
Oddly, this ache drew me to God, the “Man of Sorrows,” hoping surely God would take my hand and lead me through the darkest valleys of my melancholy heart.
In college my depression worsened to the point of hardly holding on to learning. My father’s disappointment in me increased. The panic and dread I experienced when I was with him made me constantly sick to my stomach.
He took control of my life, as he had each step of it, including attending college. It was not that I didn’t want to learn but the cloud that had hung over me for most of my life was bleak and heavy. It made college nearly impossible.
My father had always controlled my outcomes. I wasn’t in control and by the looks of it neither was God. All those year, my Dad didn’t change from the raging and controlling man he was at home. No matter how often I prayed.
From Tim Keller, I see with total clarity that the Bible, which I have always loved and studied, has suffering as a main theme. I hadn’t seen this though in certain books I have found solace. The Psalms has offered prayers when I had no words. Ecclesiastes is empathetic. Job holds truth.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalms. 34:18
The great truth which I am clinging to today is that even in Job, his sufferings were not punitive. As Keller wrote the purpose of Job’s suffering is an “enlarged life with God.”
Though God is silent these days, I find it is more important than ever to read the people of God who lead us into greater understanding in our faith, Keller being one. Beyond that, I sit in silence no matter how uncomfortable.
I have found fifteen minutes breathing in and out, and in and out, again. This supports a quieting of my mind. Perhaps you like me have thoughts that clutter up your head and worries push their way in. Allowing yourself just fifteen minutes of quiet is a stunning exercise.
In the in breath ask God to SPEAK. In the out breath, release your doubts and fears. Let yourself be there.
To me this is prayer. This is clinging. This is dependence. This is hope.
Even when God seems silent.
My Psychiatrist and I have cut my antidepressant dose in half. It has taken about a two weeks and I already feel emotions. Although they are not all positive emotions, at least they are feelings. And I can focus enough to read! I am reading Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Timothy Keller. I’ll be writing my way through the personal insights I gain from this book in the next few weeks.