I use this phrase in jest when I feel like everything is spiraling out of control, but sometimes the question turns serious.
Like, seriously. Are you there, God? It’s me. Laura. You know, the person You created. Down here. Suffering. Nothing? Really? It’s fine. It’s fine. Nothing’s on fire. I’m fine.
But deep down inside, or maybe just below the surface, I’m not fine.
I’m not okay. And there’s the age old question that’s always asked and never answered:
Where is God in the suffering?
If you’re looking for an answer, or an uplifting anecdote that will leave you hopeful for about 12 hrs, you won’t find it from me. I don’t know where God is in the suffering. Right there? Really? Because I don’t remember Him picking me off of the floor. I don’t remember Him counting out my meds every day. He doesn’t schedule my doctor’s appointments.
“Pray about it.”
Oh, you mean stare at the ceiling in the dark until the turmoil in my head subsides or the clonazepam kicks in?
“Trust His timing.”
How am I supposed to trust someone who’s essentially 6 years late to the wild party that is my life? When will it stop hurting, when I’m dead?
“Leave everything at His feet.”
What, so I can come back and pick it up 2 seconds later? Mental illness doesn’t move for any person, distraction, or chemical compound on Earth. Jesus can’t solve my problems. They are not neatly tucked away into a backpack that I can leave with Him forever.
The worse I get, the farther the concept of an all-knowing being gets. This isn’t a Christian college student puff piece on Jesus healing my depression, and just because I go to a Christian university doesn’t mean I read my bible as I hammock. This doesn’t make me a bad person by any means. Just because I’m too tired to “chase God” doesn’t mean I’ve sold my soul to Satan. We need to stop alienating the people who are still questioning their religious beliefs, or people whose religious beliefs have been compromised.
If God knew me before I was born, then he would have created me to struggle. He would have created me to someday deal with this thing called bipolar disorder. And when I’m doubting, I’m told to turn to the very person who created me that way in the first place.
I feel like a child whose parents forgot to pick them up from school, a child who’s swinging their feet as they see all of the other children being picked up and carted home.
I find solace in poetry. I find solace in cinema. I find solace in music. I find solace in fiction novels. I find solace in dancing. I find solace in a good cup of coffee.
I’m still waiting for God to show up. I don’t know if there is even a God, and I’m not afraid to say it. I haven’t figured out how I feel about that yet. Until then I’ll sip my coffee and read a book. They haven’t failed me yet.
The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.