Thursday, November 15, 2007
It's commonly said that fish and houseguests both start to smell after three days. There are many tales of people wearing out their welcome. I'm a lousy host and it's very easy for me to imagine people getting tired of me being around, so I keep to myself.
Part of this is due to life experience of no one wanting to hear my side of any story. I've never had anyone to tell about deeper issues. or to ask for help. I either figure it out for myself or abandon the idea. It's just very hard to be around people, putting on the smiling face, when they have no idea and less interest in who I am. But then, how would I know? You get good at what you do, and I do a lot of things alone.
Four years ago when God brought me back to himself I thought it was really neat that he wanted a relationship with me. He put a lot more effort into finding and redeeming me than I ever did in looking for and understanding Him. Then when I started to learn about the Holy Spirit I thought it was even neater: God Himself, living in me, to comfort, help, teach. From the first night I had the idea: help in sorting out things too complicated and messy for me.
If I'd have been more perceptive I might have predicted the coming trouble. Houseguests eventually leave. No matter how painful the failure of hosting the sun makes its rounds, time winds on and things end. Jesus said "I will never leave you nor forsake you." In the early days of this renaissance I didn't think I'd want him to leave, but after a while I was at the point of trying to drive him away. What happens when the solitary man, described by one psychologist as the closest to Spock he'd ever known in the flesh, meets the One who will never leave? Jacob got his wrestling done in a night. It has taken me longer.
The truce is somewhat delicate, but it's interesting to look at because of how my experience contradicts everything we're taught about God. God is supposed to win by breaking the soul, as the Army is said to do. For every force the wailing soul brings against the Visitor, He meets with enough to force his will. Maybe this idea isn't so broadly applied as I think it is, as it's also a familial trait: you don't want to do this? Fine. We'll force you. I learned helplessness a long time ago and learned to hide in order to keep from being overwhelmed. I lost the encounters but the flip side of no one caring is that so long as I was out of sight they didn't mind, so I just didn't have very many encounters. I'd managed to preserve most of my soul into adulthood.
I think that's largely God's work. The story could have gone differently at any one of many points in the long timeline. He'd nudge almost imperceptibly and I'd follow along the track.
Still, it's quite a way from that invisible working to knowing what's going on and still accepting it. When hiding has been a way of life, having God's bright light around the house shows lots of things that I'd never shown anyone.
It seems that God's major goal for me right now is awareness. Awareness of Him, for one, and then of the world. I've pretty much turned all that off in trying to remain invisible to Him. Not caring solves many problems but leaves one with a life that's just a long wait for the end. What do I look forward to? Good question. I don't know. I'm still trying to deal with this appalling invader, whose gaze looks upon me with great fondness but is translated by me into THREAT!
If He really wanted to disassemble my soul it would be no problem. I'm less than a candle flame. If He wanted to play the conqueror, how could I resist? I'm less that clay in a potter's hands, less will than a blade of grass in the wind. Yet I tried to hide, putting effort into that until I was perpetually exhausted.
There were always cracks in the citadel wall, and a few windows, and one door. Truth draws me irresistibly. It's the last place I expected to find God, but there he was at the door for truth. My own requirements demanded that I look into this question again. Is God real? Hard to say "No" when He's right there and asking "Do you remember me?" Once in, or returned, God is hard to eject, especially for one as tired as I. Besides, what did I have to lose?
Well, I found out. God wasn't content to camp in the courtyard. Well, really, He is, but His light works its way into every other place. Trying to keep the doors and windows closed takes a lot of effort, and is kind of like sitting there eating sawdust in the dark when there's ice cream and light outside. Yet I had that invader image in my mind, a Riever just waiting for the chance to cut me down as so many others have done.
One way to subvert a soul is emotional manipulation. Brainwashers do it, cults do it. I wondered if God did this; were His expressions of happiness with something I did just some sort of Pavlovian operant conditioning? I became sensitive to this and put up a kind of umbrella to keep that rain from falling onto me.
Why didn't I ask the obvious question? "God, are you trying to manipulate me?" He has answered all of my other questions graciously. This one never occurred to me.
He never quit, never left his post in the courtyard. Waiting. Not a sword in sight. Just patience. Questions of honor finally came up, fairly recently. God does what He says he will do and won't break the locks on the doors. He has nothing against working Himself into the finest cracks--if it's open, I can come in, right?--but won't force anything. It took three years or so, and I doubt it's over yet, but I'm finally seeing that there will be no force.
Force never conquered anything. Oh, force can destroy. Read history and you'll find plenty of that. I wonder what our world would look like if all the energy and resources that have been devoted to conquering and destroying had been turned to cooperation and building. There's no physical reason why no moon landing was made until 1969. Why not 1,000 years earlier? There were lots of starts on science but they disappeared into conflagrations like the library of Alexandria.
Force can't make people cooperate. They'll appear to cooperate but as soon as the pressure is off the situation explodes again, and again. God's way is something completely other. He waits.