Monday, February 9, 2009
In His Loving Arms
If there is anything I actually hate in this world, it's money. The relationship with money is so complex because we need it to live and we like having it, but when it comes down to it, I hate that we need it to live and I hate that we like having it. Right now, we don't have it and at this point, I'm not sure when we will. It doesn't seem like there is any rest for the weary.
Joe got laid off last week and while I understand that there are many people in the same boat as us, or in similarly small and fragile vessels floating on these treacherous seas, I can't get past feeling somewhat jipped in this little game we call life. I know it's just another opportunity for our faith in God to be tested and strengthened. I'm just trying to figure out how to get to the point of having a stronger faith through this without losing my sanity along the way.
I am having a difficult time understanding the way God is working in our lives. I am cynical about His way a lot lately and I don't want to be. Because deep in my heart, I know He is sovereign and because we choose to live our lives following Him as best as we can, He will take care of us in the end. But at the same time, there are moments when I feel so hopeless and wonder why we can't just have it a little bit easier.
My mom recently sent me something that was written by Michael Dubruiel, a writer who died suddenly while working out at the gym. He was a devout Catholic and his final column for the Diocesan newspaper in Alabama was about "the big lie" we tell ourselves. (Originally this idea was from his friend, Father Benedict Groeschel who wrote about it in his book Arise From Darkness). The general idea of the big lie is that nothing awful will happen to us if we say the "right" prayers and live our lives the "right" way. It's a wake-up call when you realize how much of a big fat lie this really is and how miserable we can become with this realization. Ultimately, hope is the shining beacon on those treacherous seas that leads us back to an understanding of not necessarily how God works but how He doesn't work. That lie is exactly how He doesn't work. But it's this fact that actually feeds my cynicism in times like this and keeps me awake at night, wondering how we're going to feed our children next month and how we're going to keep our house if Joe can't find a job - despite that shining beacon.
I've been complaining a lot lately about the fact that the people that represent the company Joe worked for (i.e his boss) obviously weren't on the level of caring about our personal situation when they made the decision to lay him off. His immediate boss knew we have 3 children and another one on the way and he knows the economy is difficult right now because it is the reason they had to lay him off. But it didn't seem to matter. Money matters. And I've also been complaining about the fact that there is a person in our life who we owe money to, which we've been paying every single month as agreed, but who all of the sudden wants all of the money we owe her - only to satisfy a greedy itch to have power over us and have the ability to continue to live the excessively comfortable life she is used to while she faces her own "financial issues." This person doesn't even need this money yet it's important to her to come after us for it, despite her knowledge of our situation (which was not as bad at the time of initial demand but not in any shape to pay off thousands of dollars all at once) and despite the basic evilness of such a demand. And through these complaints, I've been told I need to just forget about it because it's not important. I've been told I need to trust that God will provide for us and to not worry about the negative influences of these people and their idea of what matters in this world.
And really, all of this sounds nice when someone says it and maybe it gives a little bit of encouragement or hope... But I still have this little doubt in the back of my mind that makes it very hard for me to hold on to that hope, to trust in God. And it makes me very sad. Is it the devil or is it just my own weakness of flesh? I recently wrote these words in an email to the ladies in my mom's group:
When I was writing them, I really felt like God was giving me these words to help spread some hope to all of the women in the group who are facing difficult times. But even now as I am looking back on it, I am thinking that maybe God was also using it to help me, to give me hope as well. It's easy to give words of encouragement to others but to believe in your heart what you are saying to them is what truly makes it powerful.
Yes, our relationship with money can be complex and it can be difficult - especially in hard times like these when it is dwindling fast with no visible reprieve on the horizon. But that's just the thing - God isn't usually visible accept in the small ways, the ways in which you have to sort of squint your eyes and turn away from the horizon in order to see His hand.. Like in the people who offer us food when we need it or money to pay our bills or an encouraging word or a prayer. Money does not matter when God is bigger than any of it, more powerful than any greedy person, His love more valuable than any thousands or millions others seek. And yes, on the surface, I may worry and I may be angry at certain people for being so selfish and I may be questioning of even God Himself. But deep in my heart, I believe exactly what I told those ladies and exactly what I've been telling my husband - He is carrying us through all of this, as we are tucked safely away in His loving arms.