Wednesday, December 15, 2004


If I Forget You, O God

I just spent another long, mostly sleepless night. Chaotic dreams, lots of
thrashing around, and waiting for dawn. Depression, confusion, nothing
settled. Finally, around 0200, I sort of figured out what was wrong and
turned back to God.

This started on the weekend, when I went to Lancaster. For some reason I
got scared up there with my friends and closed the door to my soul. This
door is special. It closes very quickly, but opens only very slowly.

It had started to open yesterday and then I went to UCLA to be evaluated
for LASIK surgery. I'm tired of the complex prescription required for my
glasses, which makes good vision very difficult to achieve. LASIK might be
a way fix this, but between the sales pitch, the mechanized processing and
my inner turmoil about this process I came out of there feeling like a
junkyard dog. Just wanting to dare someone to touch me so I could snarl and
tear them apart.

It really wasn't that bad. The sales pitch was, in true terms, muted. The
mechanized processing is necessary so that they know where they're starting
with my eyes. The turmoil, however, is real. How can I justify spending
$5000 on an elective surgery whose sole purpose is my convenience? The
procedure also entails some hassle: more meetings, having to use artificial
tears for the rest of my life because the surgery reduces natural tear
production--freeway weepers take note--and the potential for further
problems. I like vision. I don't want to be blind. Here I'm putting my eyes
into the pot in a big gamble, with a 1-in-5000 chance of going bust. Very
good odds, yes, but... the stakes are very, very high. If I hadn't already
been unsettled none of this would have affected me.

The real question is why did I run away and hide while I was with friends
I've known for years? I guess the problem here is that they don't know the
new Larry. Well, Mauricio does, but the rest of the family doesn't and I
just chickened out.

Once the soul-door gets closed, everyone is on the outside. God, too. I
just close up like a snail or a box turtle and go through the actions
necessary. This used to work pretty well; I couldn't tell very much
difference between the box-turtle state and my normal state at that time.

Those days are gone. Bye-bye. When I close the door God is on the outside,
and I start to wither within. Life comes from God. All the delicate
structures in me that exist only because of His participation and
maintenance start to crumble. All I can maintain is the coarse basic
structure. What God does is rebuild the delicate traceries of beauty, the
minarets and corbels, the gardens, fountains and rounded things that make
life truly life. Grace notes in life's song, arches in the architecture,
hollow delicate buildings, beauty and elegance. Without Him it all turns
back to slag and a memory.

There was one final impetus for this departure. "Time" Magazine took up the
subject of the Nativity. A very balanced, scientific approach, they went to
many sources, compared them, analyzed them and came to conclusions which
left no one the wiser, but cast lots of doubt. If we can't believe the
Bible when it says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem--apparently many modern
scholars think this is a myth--then what can we believe? To someone in my
shaky state this was another sledgehammer blow against the foundation. What
can I believe? What is true, and worth standing on? Am I just a cripple
believing in a phony god?

No. I have the Holy Spirit to help me with things like this, and what He
did while I was reading the article was to remind me of the late 1970s,
when I was trying to figure out of God is real. I'd been saved for a few
years but hadn't really become convinced that God was in me, or even cared,
so I went to work to separate fact from fiction in Christianity. Of course,
it all turned out to be fiction. There was no baby in the bathwater.

It turns out that only with God's help can I understand God. This sounds
like self-referential nonsense and the beginnings of a cult dependency, but
that is another concept that just doesn't translate well into daily

What God does in me is indescribable in any accurate terms. I guess this is
why "by your love you will be known" and "the wisdom of God is the
foolishness of men." If it were easy to figure out the world would be a lot
better place, but it's much different from anything we know.

Thus, the New Larry. Living on things I don't understand, and can't explain
very well, so I have become very shy. I can't afford to have God taken away
from me, and showing Him to people is one way to invite destruction. I make
no distinction here between friends and anyone else because this idea is so
far out there. Yet God's threads run all through my being now, and to close
the door cuts off the contact. Left to my own devices I simply stop living.
I can't do it any more. Sleepless nights are too long, and life is too
short to just give up whole days because I'm scared.

And it could just be that I brought this on myself. I was poking around in
my archive of old "Weird Email" the other day and was struck by the
immediacy of those messages. Man, I really needed God back then. A year
ago. I was looking to Him for the simplest of answers, knowing that if He
didn't respond I was going over the cliff. Now, in increasing confidence, I
don't have to hold onto Him quite that hard. Life is more stable. Does this
mean I'm losing the battle? Or is this real maturity, a quiet confidence
that God will correct me if He needs to? I think I've just been reminded
that He will correct me. Growing a backbone isn't an overnight operation.

2004 December 15 (Midnight Missive, Blog and WEML)

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