“…When has it ever paid you to turn your face from life?
Keep your faith, Bay Ly:”
–From Le Ly Hayslip’s When Heaven and Earth Changed Places
I yelled at God last week. Are you even there!? My shouts came on the heels of 36 hours of raw sewage in the basement; three different plumbers, and their 11 different recommended solutions each ranging from $1,000-$10,000.
For two days, we couldn’t cook, use the bathroom and wash dishes or laundry. We shuffled the kids off to grandma’s house, and when we couldn’t stand ourselves any longer, Robert and I showered at a friend’s house.
Why Me, God?
My moment of weakness arrived after Robert and I were attempting to haul a wet vac full of sewage up the basement stairs. The lid wriggled off and I had visions of a bad tumble chased by 10 gallons of you-know-what. Getting that thing up the stairs was a struggle I don’t want to relive.
While Robert went outside to gain his composure, I proceeded to yell at God pray. My prayers are never eloquent, but they are rarely as unsophisticated as they were last Wednesday.
My indulgent cry: Why me! Why me! Why me!
I actually cried into my pillow, and trust me, nobody has to tell me how uncool I must have looked, being over 17 and all. Occasionally, I self-medicate with Sugar Babies and enchiladas, but neither were close at hand.
Thankfully, the repair was not as costly as it could have been. What upset me up was getting lied to; getting pitched products and repairs I didn’t need; getting ripped off and over-charged. There was also this feeling of being so alone as we carried the wet vac up the stairs. We’d hired all this help, forked out nearly $1,000, and were left with hours of cleanup. There was no one we could call, and God sent no one to help us.
I Wish I Were Amish
There was no way Robert and I were spending the money on a clean-up crew, and I found myself wishing I were Amish with barn-raisers for neighbors. Seriously, I often wish I had a tribe or community like the Amish have. Is it just me or do you sometimes wish you were Amish, too?
Shaking my fist at God makes me feel better. It works, too, because last Wednesday, while acting a fool, He came and sat beside me, and His love for me quieted me.
The Unbearable In-between
Last week, a blogger I follow attended a funeral for his cousin’s four-year-old son. This tragedy is a laced with unprecedented irony. Will my prayers make a difference? They’re all I have to offer.
After the birth of each of my children, I was surrounded by loving friends and family. I was paroled from work for six weeks, give or take one or two, and people showed up with presents and food. They offered to watch the newborn; clean my house and run errands. I was grateful.
But, inevitably, I returned to work, which marked the end of tradition and ceremony. I entered the in-between, the profound dash, and it was then that I needed the casseroles more than ever.
People, including me, always show up at beginnings and endings, but man. Man. We need a community during the in-between.
When someone dies the conversation almost always turns to how the dead person is now in a better place, but all I can think about in those moments is the in-between. Inevitably, the mother of the boy who passed away will find his missing sock behind the dryer; his favorite toy stuffed between the cushions of the couch. These thoughts are a call to intercession because I know after the casserole dishes are returned, the unbearable in-between.
Most mornings I awake at 5 a.m. and last Thursday was no different. I awoke and stirred in the lamplight of the TV and perked the coffee like I always do. I sunk on the couch, thinking about a $10,000 sewer repair, and BTW, God, am I ever going to be able to take my kids to Disneyworld? Next year, we’ll all be a year older.
And, then I thought of that blogger, getting on a plane, flying to the funeral of a 4-year-old boy. What kind of world do we live in anyway?
Then it came to me. God is precisely here for the in-between. He is the Balm of Gilead applied to sufferings that time alone can’t suture, and superficial stings from the darts life hurls. So, my witness is this: when I cry, I never cry alone. And, when I yell and say, WHY ME, GOD? he doesn’t runaway. He slips in next to me to listen.