Friday, October 11, 2013
Toward Freedom XXIII
God had been waiting by the Kindness Door for a long time. Thirty years, at least. Depends on how you count, and I think God sees our situations much differently; I doubt that he counts time. What I see as great patience, he experiences as something I can't fully comprehend. Anyway, he was there when I got a good look at how close I was to falling into an endless hole and asked for help.
I no longer cared very much, I thought. What could I lose? If I did nothing I'd fall in, and I didn't know what would come after. I also didn't know what would come after asking for help but something better might come about. Is that hope? It's at least a demonstration of caring; if I really hadn't cared, I wouldn't have asked God to help me.
Asking for help is dangerous. You make your plea, but you never really know whether someone will toss another rock to the drowning man, or the lost one will be given a map worse than the one she has. It may be less dangerous to give up caring.
I'm not sure what caring truly is. I feel that it's very important. I read a book about a man who became a truck driver and wrote about his experience. One time he met another driver who said he'd driven 3,000,000 miles without an accident. How can that be? "Caring," the older driver said. "You have to care about what you're doing, and pay attention."
How does one learn to care? That's the question I used to ask. In the last few months I've learned to ask a different one:. I was going to title this story "Caring is a Gift," but as the thought formed, the Holy Spirit suggested "Caring is a Birthright." This is an idea that wouldn't have occurred to me alone. What is a birthright? It's a rather charged term. For me, it means a baby is born caring, and everyone around is fascinated by the baby's demonstrations of exploring. People willingly enter the baby's world, at least some of them and to some degree. Something happens later on, it seems; adulthood might be defined as coming on the day a person learns to demonstrate not caring. Caring isn't cool.
Caring is also work. And a threat. If my cares and yours collide, who wins? Push and pull, give and take, and who loses more, and who keeps score? Welcome to adulthood. I was never very interested in that model, but no matter how much one resists--and resisting is work--the hole into which one's peg is inserted exerts its strong shaping forces.
Then one meets God. I did so as a last act before... I didn't know. Choose your style of obliteration: turning to God, or circling the drain. God has expectations and a prescription. Abandon all personal caring, ye who enter in at the narrow gate. Day by day I waited. Ten years now, and I haven't been obliterated.
In me, caring seems to be a small, neglected, battered plant. I've been throwing rocks at it for years, trying to keep it in its place. I dare not demonstrate that I care because that will lead to losing even more than I already have. God shelters that small plant as it does what plants always do: grow.
Not caring is easy. Why do the work if the end result is another rock to the face? God starts with trust and builds from there, and he's teaching me that I don't need to batter myself for his sake, nor for mine. Let things grow, and find out what I care about.
Caring scares me. Is God just setting me up for another disappointment? I don't think so; not everyone is like those who've forced me to live within their worlds if I'm to relate at all. There are people willing to walk gently in my world, to see what's there and respect what they see. My not caring obscures everything. Be kind, little one. Your God protects you.
All is grace.
2013 October 11