29 September 2013

Dear God, are You there? It's me, the one with all the problems...

Dear God,
Can we talk? I'm a better writer than I am a talker, so I hope You read blogs.

As You are well aware, my entire life has fallen into total disrepair. I'm not in a gutter with a needle in my arm, and I haven't been molested by any transvestites. For this, oh Lord, I thank you.

But still. Seriously. It's bad. It's I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-going-to-do bad. It has been this bad before, but I was much younger then and I was more resilient and there was a sort of (messed-up) romance about it. This is way more than I can handle. My mother always said You'd never give me more than I can handle, but I've now come to the realization that this is just something people say to make you feel better and not at all the truth.

You're always giving people more than they can handle.
Or You allow it, anyway.
You let us hit bottom so that you can pull us up to heights higher than the Rocky Mountains.

If You could, like, grab my arm now, that would be great. The word here is "dire," God. As in, I am in dire straits. Emotionally and financially. I'd like to sneak onto a train and wherever it stops is where I start over, just me and my husband.

You seem to really like to use us as examples of how you pull people out of the swamp just seconds before a crocodile snaps us in two. It's all for Your glory, Jesus, but no more swamps, please. Just dry land and some time to catch our breath.

I've wondered if maybe we're cursed, Lord. I've been assured by faithful friends that You don't work that we. Satan has no hold on us. We belong to You. It's up to me to react to my problems in a way that glorifies You, but I'm getting too tired to react at all.

We need a solution. Not just a quick fix, but a SOLUTION. And we need it NOW. I still believe in You because You bless me when I don't deserve it. I don't deserve Your blessings now, either, but I'm begging You for them. Lift us up and OUT.

Help me to turn to You and not other things - things that destroy me - while I wait.

In Jesus' name,

13 September 2013

Hey, You Should Pray for This Great Thing You Don't Deserve!

I started reading the Bible from the beginning this week in an effort to take note of all the things I likely missed the first time around. Some hilarity ensued.

 The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.  He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.  Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” Genesis 18:1-15, NIV

Telling God He didn't hear what He heard. Gotta love it. All my life, I've imagined God to be like this:

I'm not so sure that's how He looked when He asked Sarah why she was laughing. I picture a different stance. Something a little more like this:

The story of Abraham and Sarah is awesome because it shows that God keeps His promises, and that waiting on the Lord pays off. But I like the story because all of that is true in spite of the fact that they didn't deserve it.

Abraham goes off and sleeps with the hired help. Sarah gets jealous and treats the hired help like crap. God (more hilarity ensues) tells the mistress, "Listen, it's all good. I promise you this child you're carrying will be a major headache for Sarah and Abraham. He'll be the poster child for bad behavior. I give unto thee Charleen Sheen clothed in a loin cloth...except I want you to call him Ishmael." (Not in so many words, but that's the Fidler interpretation.)

Anyway, Abraham and Sarah hatch this horrible plot to force someone else to have their child because they don't believe God can pull it off. Then Sarah cops an attitude. And just a few pages ago, God promised not to destroy mankind in a flood ever again. Oh snap! I wonder if He regretted that promise.

He could have squashed them like little bugs, or laughed a cryptic laugh as he told them to go change into their bathing suits. Instead, he gave them a son. Their son. Not the hired help's son. Good old Isaac. It was completely supernatural. No test tube babies yet, just a married couple, older than dirt (not that dirt was very old at that point), who had dismissed God as a liar. Total National Enquirer material. They didn't deserve it. They got it anyway.

Today I was pouring a cup of coffee, thinking about something I've worried about for months. I ran out of worry. I got tired and gave that up, and as soon as I admitted I had no idea what to do or how to do it, I felt peace. Then, this morning, I'm stirring some pumpkin spice CoffeeMate into my java and I feel like God is telling me, really specifically, to pray about the situation from a totally different angle. 

I didn't laugh at God. I didn't say "yeah right" or anything like that. I was just sadly surprised that I had never thought to pray that way before, and now I realize it's because I didn't think it was possible. I couldn't imagine God giving me that answer.

It's like watching Hulk Hogan throw a man across a wrestling ring, but you don't think he can carry your hot dog and Coke back to your arena seat for you without pulling a muscle in his wrist.

But, ya know, even as I write this, I can't help but think I'm going to be disappointed if God doesn't answer it the way He's telling me I should pray for it. And then I'll wonder why He told me to pray for it like that in the first place.


So many questions...
Pray now, write a blog about obedience later...

09 September 2013

Syria: Every Road Seems Like a Dead End

I love my mom.
I love that she has opinions and she's not afraid to share them. She won't argue with you (this is not a trait I inherited), but she'll tell you flat out what she thinks.
And she's pretty good at roping you into a discussion on sensitive topics. Like how sex changes work Syria.

I call her once or twice a week. My dad usually answers. We discuss the weather and his flowers, then he asks me if I want to talk to my mom. I say yes and throw in an "I love you" because the world is crazy, and you just never know. My mom picks up, asks how I am. I confirm that I am alive and still able to pay for food, whether I really am or not.

"What do you think about all this crap going on in Syria?" she asks, while munching on potato chips in my ear. I'm silent for a moment while my dad yells his opinion from the kitchen in the background.

Syria.What to do, what to do... There's no good answer.
Any opinion is going to contain some bad theology and even worse politics.
Go in, bomb the country, kill some civilians... This might have worked for me - no, it WOULD have worked for me - a little more than a decade ago, when I was in my early 20's and couldn't be bothered to think beyond the "it's-us-or-them" mentality that went along with 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Now I get that it's not that simple.

After all, what good does a little ol' bombing do? Send the bad guys packing to a new location. New location, same dubious plot. Nothing much will have changed.

Put boots on the ground and kill even more innocent civilians? Piss off the entire Middle East? Start World War III? This option, supposedly, is off the table. I think it's a damn good thing. If it ever resurfaces, I'll be underground with my cat and my husband if anybody needs me.

Should we back off and let Syria's chemical weapons fall under international control? This sounds like the best option so far, except that by the time we get actual inspectors in the country, Bashar al-Assad could wipe his own people off the map.

My personal opinion changes depending on my perspective. The blond-haired, blue-eyed American in me doesn't think we should do a damn thing. "Let them kill each other." Let them fight their own battles. Our defense spending has been cut, we're already in debt up to our eyeballs, our unemployment rate is too high, and, and and... We just don't need another major problem. Why do we always have to be the playground monitor, going around breaking up every fight between countries that are too ignorant and hell-bent on destruction to do it themselves?

But then I try to imagine myself as an innocent Syrian woman, hoping and praying that my children will get through the next school day without having their flesh melted off by a freakin' sarin gas bomb. That's when it stops being an American-Syrian issue, and it starts becoming an international crisis. A crisis of humanity. This isn't any less of an international crisis - any less of an international horror - than the Nazi extermination of the Jews, the extent of which, in case you've forgotten, was not fully understood until all of the damage had been done.

Oh, and there's this one other thing that influences my views: Jesus.
He said this thing once that really made people stop and think. He said, "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword."

As a Republican, I did my very best to find ways around those words. I tried to come up with other explanations for them. Maybe Jesus only meant this, or maybe Jesus was actually only referring to that. Now I don't know. It's hard for me, as a human being, to believe that there are no exceptions to this rule. But the Bible is full of stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense to human beings. Who am I to question Jesus' wisdom and integrity?

Do I think Obama has taken that into consideration? No. Maybe. Maybe he's flipped through his Bible, but I don't think this is what is weighing heavily on him at this moment. Not because he's a bad guy, I just don't think it's playing a big role in his decision-making. I'm sure Congress isn't mulling it over, either. This is just me talking - the personal opinions and theology of Julie A. Fidler, a college drop-out and Christian living in some dumpy Pennsylvania hamlet, who doesn't want to see anyone get killed....except for maybe the really bad guys.

I've been reading that all of this Syria business is biblical in nature, as in, foretold in the Good Book. That's another blog (and it WILL be another blog.) So if that doesn't kick your perspective in the crack, I don't know what will.

Anyway...I usually agree with my mother, not because I'm too much of a pansy to have my own opinion or to express it, but because it's easier than admitting to my own mass confusion. It's quicker than saying everything I've just written here. I don't want to argue with her. I have to reach a solid conclusion before I can tell anyone why there's is wrong.

Every option is a bad one, ultimately, because someone will have to die, either because they've been murdered or because we failed to murder someone else. That's heavy stuff.