Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Question Behind the Questions

This was one of my tired weekends (they're rather common). What I've achieved - grocery shopping, coffee with a friend, cooking, reading a bit and watching TV - has happened in snatches between naps, and even when I'm awake my brain is so foggy I don't really feel conscious.

I've learned the first lesson of illness: to accept the stripped-down existence, the inability to distract myself with activity, the impossibility of guaranteeing that I will be able to do anything on any given day. It's a stern and yet freeing reality. I can sleep all day because I know - as a fact, through experience - that God provides generously for both my needs and my desires, and that He gives me exactly the strength required for whatever He wants me to do on my own.

A lot of times I start asking myself, why me? Why this illness? Does it point to some kind of calling? Is there something I'm supposed to do or be for God, some way I'm supposed to help people because of what I've experienced?

That's where I come to a second lesson. The first lesson strips the mask off a deeper fear - that I don't have value to God unless I do something super-spiritual in exchange for His bounty. I cry out against my nothingness with churchy phrases and ostentatious submission. I try to find a way to guarantee that He'll always love me.

The Christian-sounding questions that I ask really mean, "Will You always be here?" The second lesson means to ask that question instead of the other ones. To ask to be taught, in the face of my daily fear of betrayal, that my mere existence is proof that I am created and loved.

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