Saturday, August 12, 2006
kindness is a gift
I hate being suckered. The one doing it always gloats, even when they're taking advantage of one's simple lack of specific knowledge. Ignorance is not stupidity: everyone passes through the times of not knowing; how one deals with that is the real sign. Everyone's a sucker once, sadly, and those with good memories take the lesson to heart and start building defenses.
Then God comes along, arms open, saying "Trust me." Yeah, right. Especially when the impossible promises come along: "My yoke is easy, my burden light. Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you." The dream implied in every adolescent love song: "I'll be there for you." How much of this can we absorb, how many lies, before just closing out the words and going our own way? Memories of failures.
How many people would stay around for years of doubting? Jesus told Thomas to touch his hands and feet, to know with his fingers that Jesus had been killed and then risen, and this was he in front of the doubters, warm and living. Come to me and touch.
Well, that part's pretty easy. Despite the fact that history holds a lot more examples of people believing in a hard, cold, distant, judging God, the first few weeks of a new believer's life are kind of magical. What was myth now walks with the follower of Jesus. Then the world's pressure encroaches, banging on the dream, reinforcing memory. It has to be one sturdy dream to hold up under the doubters all around. I've always prided myself in walking my own way, but even I feel the pressure to conform if only to avoid excessive notice. "Come on. You don't really believe God is real, do you?" Belief is for simpletons, idiots, the credulous... children. "Except you become as a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
Children believe easily. The moon is made of green cheese, witches fly on broomsticks, magic awaits around every corner. God comes to us and says there is magic, dreams can come true, but the adult point of view is that dreams are dead and that life is just grinding out the years. Autobiographical, here. God offers a new idea, and I, not wanting to be suckered, resist.
This does not change God's actions in the least. He goes on being himself, steadfast, waiting, inserting his ideas whenever a window opens through the stone around my heart. His love is always there.
I really know nothing of operational kindness except that demonstrated by God. I'm sure that other people have expressed kindness to me but it's too dangerous to realize. I might get to the point of needing it, wanting it, and those oases of hope and kindness are very rare in the long desert. Better to maintain my adaptation to the waterless waste of years.
God rains on me and I put up an umbrella. Human beings would give up. God keeps raining. He doesn't acknowledge hopelessness and is willing to keep doing what he can to... change my mind. Slowly, oh so slowly, I learn that His rain won't stop. He won't withdraw his gift just because I, in a long-standing mistrustful pique, refuse it. There's always tomorrow. And the day after that.
How do you prove that you're trustworthy? Look at any politician, and do the opposite. Be who you are at all times, no matter who's looking. This is really what "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever" means. He's looking at His Father. The Father is looking at all of time. I look all over, anywhere but Him, expecting that well-trained judgment if he ever notices me. Well, he notices me all the time and sorrows when I repudiate his words and do things my way.
The world isn't really made the way I think it is, but my assumptions fit with many of the functional characteristics. Safety comes from not being on the far end. What might safety look like if I could trust the presence of greater emotional resources than I've ever carried? What might I do if I didn't fear coming apart at any moment? The only way to find out is to grow into trusting God to hold me even when I don't like him.