Sunday, June 27, 2010

Foul-weather friend of the class nerd

Breaking news: I went to church this morning.

Once upon a time, that wouldn't have been newsworthy, but for the past, oh, 15 years, I've been what I've heard called "a C & E christian." C & E = Christmas and Easter. As in, those are the only days I darken the doorway of our chapel.

What's really sad is that I was bribed to go to church by the offer of lunch. In a restaurant. (And a very good lunch it was.)

But go I did. And I'm glad.

While listening to the excellent sermon, it occurred to me that our pastor was describing me: when it comes to my faith, I am the opposite of a "fair-weather friend" who only shows up when things are hunky-dory. Because when the fit hits the shan, I am right there on my knees praying and expecting that God (Jesus/Spirit) will drop everything, do a little happy dance ("Oh, yeah! She remembered me!") and make everything all better.

When Emily had her crisis 20 months ago, and the world as I knew it crumbled to smithereens around me, I was on my knees, head pressed to the floor, tears streaming, praying with every atom of my soul that God would hear me and rescue our desperate family. With shameless gall I asked everyone for prayers. I wrote of miracles, angels and God's mercy. I said, "Thank God," and I meant it more earnestly than ever. I mean every word of it today.

There were miracles. Small ones, big ones. Emily received treatment that could have set us back more than $100,000, but was covered by our insurance. It was treatment that might not have been available in Canada, but was available because we were living out of the country. There are more, but I can't go into them, out of respect for Emily's privacy.

I clung to God.

And, in this case, God saw fit to lift us up, to heal each one of us. I don't believe that God always answers our prayers by "granting wishes" as if he (or she) were some kind of leprechaun or genie in a lamp. He's not Santa Claus! I think, in that respect, the epithet "Father" best applies: He always answers prayer, but He looks at a greater good, a different good, and sometimes that good involves a great deal of pain and loss on our part. His answers aren't always what we want to hear, any more than my answers to my kids are what they want to hear.

But I am so, so grateful He answered as He did.

So what was my response? Like any spoiled brat who gets what she wants, I wandered off and enjoyed my blessings. And, like a kid who befriends the class nerd, I kept my relationship with God a secret. More or less. I only shared it with people who I knew were like-minded.

I wasn't always like that, and perhaps that's why it is difficult for me now.

I grew up in a very evangelical church, was extremely involved in all things christian through high school and university. I was outspoken about my faith, unabashed. As I "grew up" I became more circumspect about my beliefs and a little ashamed of how evangelical I'd been (I still would never dream of evangelizing the way I did as a teenager).

And then I was deeply, unforgiveably hurt by someone I loved and who I thought loved me. My trust was betrayed, and I felt abandoned. And every. Frigging. Time I went to church, there was a minister at the front preaching forgiveness. There was the Lord's prayer: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Man. If that isn't the toughest challenge.

So I stopped going.

And here I am, painfully aware that God didn't wait for me to forgive before He scooped my family up. Aware that God is willing to be my "secret" friend. Because, for some incomprehensible reason, he is just desperate for me to want him. [Hmm. Maybe He really IS the class nerd. Naw. I already married the class nerd. ;-)]

I have a strong feeling that it's time for me to step up. To be a little more genuine in my faith. I don't have a clue what that will look like, but I think it's time to start investigating, and listening. I have a sinking feeling that it may involve some forgiveness, and I'm not sure what that will look like either.

[I promise not to turn this into a religious blog any more than it is entirely a mommy blog, but this is part of who I am.]

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