I lose my job. My kid goes down a scary path. I get a bad diagnosis.
A friend betrays me. Another friend dies.
Tangly events happen in life. (Fill in the blank with some of your own.)
Whatever the tangly event, it raises questions. One of those questions is “Why?” Why did this happen?
This “Why?” question leads to other questions. “Could I control this event?”, for example.
Sometimes, the answer is yes. (I walked away from the stove while dinner was cooking; as a result, dinner burned. I made a snarky, hurtful remark; my co-worker started avoiding me.) When that’s the case, I need to find the courage to make needed changes. (So says the Serenity Prayer, and I tend to agree.)
Sometimes, the answer is no. (A heavy snowstorm broke a tree branch, which fell on my car. My boss chose to promote another employee rather than me.) When that’s the case, I need to find the serenity to accept the circumstance. (Serenity Prayer, again.)
But then, the question becomes, “Am I healthy, rested, and resilient?”
If yes…then cool! I’ve probably got what it takes to grab hold of the courage or acceptance I need to move on.
If no…then bummer. I may stay stuck in the Why for a time. While I’m there, I may blame others for my situation. Or I may medicate in some way to avoid the pain of the tangle. Or I may just sit and fume, stewing in the injustice of it all.
Sometimes, tangly events pile up on tangly events. They just keep coming. In which case, the question shifts. No longer is the primary question “Why?”–now the main question is “How long?”
As awful as the series of tangles may be, sometimes, thankfully, there’s an end in sight. The deadline’s a month away. The car will be back from the shop on Tuesday. The course of treatment is two years. And the mere fact that the end date is known leads to hope.
If, however, there’s no end in sight to the tangle…that can lead to discouragement, and a need for support.
We all walk through this cycle of tangles and questions. Which is complicated enough all on its own. But bring God into the equation, and it gets more complicated yet.
When I have a tangly event AND a belief in God, suddenly the questions become not merely “Why?” and “How long?”, but “Why, God?” and “How long, O Lord?” Because God, being all-powerful, could have stopped the tangly event. And being all-loving, He’d want to keep me from this pain, right?
And yet He didn’t stop the tangle.
What happens when God doesn’t do what I want? When who I thought Him to be doesn’t match up with how things are playing out?
For me, all this leads to another question: “Who?”
Who is this God? Who is He, really?
Good questions, these. They force me to look at God for who He actually is. Peel away the false beliefs I have about Him.
And then I’ll have something (or Someone) real to hold to (or to be held by) in the middle of the tangly events of my life.