Monday, October 27, 2008

For Those of You Who Believe in Prayer

I would like to ask prayers for my friend Joleen, who is in the hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. I will be flying out to visit her a few days from now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

DivorceCare

DivorceCare. The name sounds like an HMO--one you never, ever want to go to.

I went to my first-ever divorce support group meeting tonight. I was pretty skeptical beforehand. The website for DivorceCare suggests a very traditional view of marriage and gender roles, and the church hosting the group is a conservative one. Still, it's the only group of its kind that I know of within a half-hour driving radius.

For the first 45 minutes of the meeting we watched a video. This was not so great. I wanted to strangle the portly, white-haired video presenter--he looked so smug in his bowtie with his faint British accent, as he cheerfully listed off the symptoms of depression. All the women in the video had big hair and wore too much lipstick and foundation, and their narratives usually went something like this... "I knew I had hit bottom because I was going out in broad daylight without any makeup on! "

But listening to the other people at the meeting actually helped. More than a littlle actually. Divorce is still a taboo topic amongst most of my friends and relatives. I'm used to people looking uncomfortable and then changing the subject. Perhaps they think it is contagious?

I was still the only one at the support group without kids, but I'm used to that with married people too. At least nobody preached at me or tried to convert me. (Maybe that comes later?) One of the leaders did ask if I had found a church yet, and when I told her I was working on starting a house church, everybody seemed to respect this as a valid option.

Northerners, as we all know, are not by and large a friendly bunch. This group of strangers showed more hospitality and genuine warmth than any secular organization I have yet encountered. I guess that's what makes me not give up entirely on Christianity, for all its flaws.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Expectations Game

A few posts back, I kinda sorta maybe implied that God was looking out for me, and that provided justification for my continued faith.

Ha! I'm starting to wonder if that tempted fate. Or perhaps until now I had just been taking for granted all the good luck that accompanied the bad. I won't go into detail, except to say that this fall had some rough spots. Knowing that there are many, many people way worse off than me... well, that wasn't exactly a cheerful thought either.

I found myself second-guessing my own decisions and wondering what lesson I was supposed to be absorbing.

I saw several choices:

1. I could be angry at God for not delivering the usual goods and services.
2. I could wonder what I did wrong and why I was being "punished."
3. I could continue resolutely to have faith that prosperity and love and happiness will soon come my way again, for being such a good and devoted servant.

All of these attitudes strike me as faintly arrogant. I mean, who am I to deserve special treatment? Why should I be assured rewards when so many other soldiers in the war, good people like Esmin Green and Viola Liuzzo, ended their lives without them?

I guess where I am is that I am trying to walk away from the expectations game. We'll call this approach Door Number Four.

I still have faith--that I am loved, that existence has meaning and purpose. But I am trying to leave behind the mentality of carrot and stick. I believe that every experience contains opportunity for learning and growth, even if many of those lessons are not ones I would choose to learn.

Do I think that maybe all this luck (good and bad) was random? That maybe Things Don't Happen for a Reason?

All the time, all the time.

What if I had just had a little more sense and a little less idealism, and chosen to have babies five years ago instead of writing a book? Would I still be living in a fancy Plaza-Midwood custom home, the wife of a corporate lawyer, enjoying all the comforts and perks that upper middle class society can confer?

There's no way to know. But there is no going back to that life. Even if I could, I know I would still be restless, haunted by what might have been.

There may not be any meaning to existence except what I impart to it. I realize that. But I will take insight and hope wherever I can find them, consume every crumb greedily and hungrily, then look around for some more.