Falling apart

In the end everything always falls apart. It always hurts, at first as a sharp pain and later as a dull, ever-present ache. I’ve watched a couple of my friends, whose lives I used to joke were perfect in comparison with mine, go through hard times lately. It hurts to watch. I don’t believe in happy endings anymore. Or, maybe, in my head I do believe in them (I believe in Heaven, after all), but my heart contradicts that belief. I’ve watched every good, happy thing fall apart and injure those who cherish it; I’ve been through heartache myself. I cry a lot more than I used to. I read the Bible. I read about the righteous and the wicked, judgement day, repentance, hope…I listen to sermons.  I know that God can turn heartbreaking events into beauty, but it doesn’t feel that way. Yes, yes, feelings can be wrong, I know, but let me be raw and vulnerable, ok?

All around me there is so much pain…that I’m supposed to have the answer to. Another person trying to get by, get through another day. A few weeks ago, sitting in a parking lot waiting for my sister to get off work I overheard a tear filled conversation. “I’ll get through. I’m a big girl. Ok?” It was clear she was trying to convince herself as much as the person on the other end of the line. A conversation like that is only supposed to happen in a movie, a story that will be brought to a satisfying conclusion. But shattered people aren’t just in stories. They’re everywhere. Striving, sad, imperfect, struggling people fill the pews on Sunday, drive the streets, check out as I (just another person fighting through another day) bag for them at the grocery store, stand behind the register and check others out.

How can I, just another hurting member of the human race, help them? So often the broken don’t even want to heal, instead they embrace and work towards their own destruction. Maybe the only happy endings are the funerals of the saints, to which we wear black, at which we mourn. No surprise, humanity always seems to have everything backwards, from priorities to what we mourn. Here I stand, again, having exhausted my mind considering a question only to be still without answers. Any thoughts?

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Categories: Ponderings, rants | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Falling apart

  1. Well, at the risk of over-stepping my welcome, I’d say you’re asking the wrong question. You don’t help them heal; that’s taking on too big of a burden, one you’ll never, ever be able to shoulder. There is only One who can do that. (Like me, I think you are prone to taking on more than is actually your responsibility.) What you do is you help them be broken.

    People who are continually trying to talk themselves into saying they’ll be okay won’t be able to go looking for the One who can make them actually be okay. Trying to help people heal is in some ways standing in their way of finding the healer.

    It is hard watching people be broken, and being broken yourself. That part never changes. What changes is the hope in the brokenness. To borrow the imagery you brought up, it IS right for those of us in the world to mourn the passing of others; and it is only those of us following Him who can find hope in the midst of the brokenness.

    We don’t point towards healing. We don’t point towards wholeness. We aren’t any of those things yet ourselves. What we point to is HOPE. And if one is not broken, one has no need of hope. There IS a joy in watching someone (or being yourself) broken, because that is the only way we turn toward hope! Someone who imagines themselves whole or self-sufficient has no need to turn toward grace or receive it.

    Jesus Himself said that He (the physician) did not come for the healthy (or those that considered themselves such), but for the sick (and admitted they were such).

    Should we then mourn the hurt in this world? Yes. Mourn it. Mourn it and mourn with them, but in your mourning, have great hope, for that is what we can offer to those who also mourn.

    “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

    “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

    Faith.

    Hope.

    Love.

    (No one ever said anything about supposed to have the answers, except the answer for the hope that is within you.)

  2. You aren’t overstaying your welcome at all! I’m always glad to hear your thoughts. Truly.

    As usual you are probably right. Although I will say that many of my attempts to be broken with the broken and then point to hope are met with resistance. Many. Most. All. And at that point there is no helping them, but I don’t want to just walk away and leave them in their self-sustained misery.

    Also, something else…the two friends I talked about going through hard times are Christians. But so often God tossed out as a pat answer feels so trite in our struggles. It comes back to that we don’t always feel him, I guess. So we talk about the mysteries of love (always falling for the person least likely to work), and heartbreak, and friendship, and paying bills, and keeping cars running…We talk about the recurring “Am I wasting my life?” thought, but we don’t talk about God overmuch.

    I suppose ultimately it is easy to lose hope because it is in something we cannot see, and it isn’t easy to reattain it. But even so, your comments always point me in good directions. Thank you. 🙂

  3. Well. . .here we get into an area of great controversy. I go with St. Francis’ assertion to “preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words.” But I know a great many people who find that very offensive and argue vehemently against it. So to my understanding. . .being hopeful in your own brokeness is itself a witness. (Truly, I have found it to be more and more honest simply about my own brokeness to other people, an act of humility that doesn’t come easily. But only by admitting my inability can they see where I turn to when I’m hopeless, and how efficacious that turning is.) And yes, to those who are perishing, it is the stench of death rather than the aroma of hope.

    If you hold to that St. Francis’ view, then there is not really a point of “no helping them.” The point is to bear witness, and in so fulfilling your duty as watchman. As long as it is still “Today,” there is still point in being that witness, that God would call those to Himself. In other words, sometimes it can be hard and frustrating, because we may very well not get to see the fruit of that witness in our lifetime, and have to trust that God will be faithful to His promise that His word will not return void. Not an easy thing–but a shifting of the perspective from the now (these people are broken) to the then (when the fullness of God will be revealed). It’s not easy, or we wouldn’t have to be exhorted to keep reminding each other.

    I would love to have conversations about heartbreak, friendship, paying bills and keeping cars running and especially the reoccurring “am I wasting my life?”; I do not think I could talk about any of those things in seriousness or in depth without talking about God, which is why I find my unChristian (that sounds horrible, but I mean in the sense that they don’t share my faith, not that it is heretical to be friends with them) friendships to be more shallow. I feel like we can never really connect at the deepest level, because we don’t have a shared understanding of what really matters at the deepest level. I was struggling last night trying to talk to someone about serious things without resorting to terminologies and frames of reference that she frankly can’t relate to. (And, as in above, sometimes it is time to start talking about things someone doesn’t relate to. But if you look what the apostles did, they talked about the gospel in the context of what people could related to, e.g., “your own poet/prophet says. . .” or “. . .you honor ‘the unknown god’. . .” etc.)

    But I would again stand on it’s head “God tossed out as a trite answer to our struggle.” I would suggest it ought to be rethought of as “God as a great mystery in the context of our trite struggles.” To me, this is the only place where healing perspective is found. The struggles that we face seem so real and tortuous to us, yet in the perspective of eternity, perfection, holiness. . .who is man that You are mindful of him?

    We’ve talked before about those who offer well-veneered statements (“remember, God is carrying you!”), but truly tossing God into the mix is far from trite. Tossing God into the mix is questions like, is it your life to waste? What is waste? What does God think is a waste? Is it possible for God’s efforts on me to be wasted? What looks like “good and faithful service” to God? What if what the world thinks is a waste is exactly what God wants me to do? Am I fearful it’s a waste because I feel out of control or in “too small/humble a role” for my pride, or do I feel like it’s a waste because of the prompting of the Holy Spirit that I’m not seeking the things of God?

    It’s tempting to say that since the complexities of God are too far beyond us (e.g., why, God?), we should just be content with accepting the simple statements without question (e.g., because God said so, and He’s in charge). Yet we are constantly being told by God Himself to seek Him and search out His ways, because He’s delighted when we do. So I don’t think God is pleased with the triteness of Job’s friends that says, “stop asking to understand, and just admit that no matter what God is good and right and true.” (triteness = God is using your struggles!) The second half of that statement is true; no matter what God is good and right and true. But that’s not de facto instructive of not (double negative, argh!) crying out for mercy, asking how long, or seeking to understand what work is being done as a son would of a father.

    I’ve been more lengthy than I have before, because I feel like we keep coming back to the same issues, which makes me wonder if we’ve connected in a solid way. This does not disturb me; it just makes me curious. Do you think it’s possible for us to fully admit that God is beyond our full understanding and comprehension and not have our conversations be trite? Or is that something that has not been your experience? I think it’s something that you’re very hungry for, but my sense is that you’re not quite sure it’s actually possible. What do you think?

    (also, apologies etc for the state of my grammar, punctuation, sentence fragments and bobbing and weaving direction of thought; all cylinders here are not firing)

  4. Thank you again for taking time to reply. Sorry again for my delayed response. 😉 First, let me address your questions:

    “Do you think it’s possible for us to fully admit that God is beyond our full understanding and comprehension and not have our conversations be trite? Or is that something that has not been your experience? I think it’s something that you’re very hungry for, but my sense is that you’re not quite sure it’s actually possible. What do you think?”

    Yes, I think it is possible to admit that God is beyond our understanding. I believe that, sometimes, it is possible to have not-trite conversations about God. However, in my experience, it can be very difficult in conversation to lay aside our different interpretations and beliefs about the theology of God, even when both parties wish to do so, because in meandering conversation the areas of disagreement tend to be run into unintentionally. I don’t know, I guess. I don’t know much. If you admit God is an inexplicable mystery then all conversation about his person seems vain in a way.I wish I could have conversations about God without the interference of my imperfections, but I live in an imperfect world. Sometimes, once in a great while, I’ll discuss God with someone and feel that magic, which may be the Holy Spirit, and I will go away refreshed. But, more often than not that isn’t the case.

    For now, in where I am at the moment I guess you could say that I’m tired of talking about God. It’s all we do. We converse and extrapolate and wonder. Talk is cheap, and part of me has had more than enough of it. I go live life and make the same mistakes over and over and see God in the craziness that is living. To talk about God is, in a way, to reduce him. The gospel is simple, yet also very complex; I’ve heard the simple repeatedly, and now I’d rather delve into that which is beyond words. Sometimes I have those kind of experiences with people…the ones with very few words, the ones that leave me transformed at least for a moment, and that is when I feel fulfilled. Generally, this whole comment comes down to that I’m rather confused right now. I know less than ever, I suppose… Not sure if that’s a good or a dangerous state to be in. Ah well.

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