faith · family · learn

when the ways aren’t your ways and other frustrating things about God

When Rob was looking for a job, we would daydream – or I should say *I* mostly daydreamed – about opening a food truck called “Reverend Wootton’s Big Food Truck” which would be a variety of grilled cheeses on artisan breads and a “Billsburger” with handcut chips. You never know… God may be calling us to that some day. Meanwhile…

We serve where and when He puts us. We still get to eat Rob’s good cookin’ -though not from a truck – and we think about how God has led us so far in the five years we’ve known each other. We aren’t sure what God is doing – I mean not for sure for sure. We know He is at work. We know this because we are breathing and we know this because He is. Period.

But the trust breaks down a bit from there, doesn’t it? Let’s be honest, because there’s no other way to really be. I honestly get worried about God being God. We say things like He is always good and He always takes plans for evil and turns them into good. The problem is we’ve experienced it. The problem is that for some of us some of our worst fears have come true.

The other day, my 2+ year old screamed at me. She wanted to go outside and it was cold. She was wearing a skirt and I said she had to wear pants. She went and got pants, but her little brain kinda just thought she had to like hold the pants in her hand, not realizing that I meant she would have to take her skirt off and put her pants on. She screamed holy hell. I explained – my first mistake – that it was cold and she couldn’t wear her skirt. Then I said, I can put your skirt on over your pants. She said ok. But then we still had to take her skirt off first. This does not compute. Arm toddler weapons. Engage.

At some point, I said, Miri, do you trust me? She screamed no. I laughed and said, well at least you’re honest. I don’t know what her big brain was processing at that point, but I know she was not having whatever I was dishing out. I realized that I just needed to show her and so I manhandled her and got her skirt off, pants on, skirt back on as quick as I possibly could manage (good grief they make these toddlers strong!) and she realized what my end game was and moments later she is outside laughing and singing again.

My husband recently shared, again, about his worst year ever, 2010. He has shared this, like, one thousand times – really – because of the nature of his job and when he was job searching and etc. etc. His story of that year is gut wrenching and heartbreaking. The part that gets me choked up every single time is when he talks about facing one of the biggest fears we all have: being fully known and… rejected. I picture him on the floor in a fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably and I cannot be unmoved by it. It makes me hurt.

I share this because in those kind of moments we cannot help but think, if this is God working on me, I don’t want God. I have known those moments. But the realization for me is that I have created those moments in my toddler worst. My arrogance. My stubbornness. My unwillingness to submit.

And what are we submitting to anyway? For a chunk of my adult life I had this gnawing belief that God was a sadomasochist sitting up on some puffy cloud and casting judgment on the earthlings. I think I pictured him like Zeus and those gods in that 80s Clash of the Titans movie. I haven’t seen the newer one so I imagine the effects are a bit better. I could be wrong on that too.

God isn’t Zeus. You know how I know that? Because God became flesh and dwelt among us. Zeus took on human form now and then to have his little trysts and to generally muck things up a bit. But then he went back to Olympus and his throne room and laughed at the misery he caused. These are stories to explain something about life. But this isn’t God. This isn’t the God I have come to know and trust and adore. The God I know felt my pain, knew my misgivings, understood my heart’s cries even before I understood them myself, and then, in His power and wisdom and mercy, did something about it all.

So do I trust Him? When worst fears are realized? When I am on the floor weeping? When hope is lost? When I cannot see any way out? When I cannot see the horizon? In the midst of pain and sorrow? Am I like a child?

Yes. I am a child. It is no mistake that Jesus tells us to let the children come. Let the children lead the way. I watch my child growing in her understanding of how the world works, and of herself. She will come to know all the sadness and all the joy. She will learn that people will fail her and make a mess of things. She will learn that SHE will fail and make a mess of things. But my prayer and daily hope is that she will above all learn that Jesus took on flesh and dwelt among us. That he came and felt and laughed and cried and hurt and rejoiced and mourned and hungered and ached… all for her. I pray daily that we will all learn more and more how to trust Him. How to trust him when he says you really need to put pants on. It’s pretty cold out there.

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