I've not made an entry on this page for quite some time. Life has been pretty brutal. I will not get into the things which have happened, nor will I try to compare my hardships to others. That's done all too often, something like; you think you have it so bad, just look at .... Everyone handles stuff differently, and regardless of how badly you hurt, the only thing that you know when you hurt is that you do.
In the midst of all of this I've adopted a different attitude to testimonies. Where once I found them to be encouraging and inspirational, now they are suspect and sometimes painful. Along those same lines, the frequent memes of how God is going to bring some great blessing are also painful. And the ones that are targeted against suicide, saying that someone is listening. Sorry to burst your bubble but in fact very few people are actually listening. I know this first hand. And much to my own shame, I don't listen very well either.
Certainly if someone specifically asks for help, folks are ready and willing. But what about the person who doesn't know how to ask or who to ask? I realize that people mean well and intentions are good.
Here are some examples of how testimonies really are not so good. Someone gave me a CD right around Christmas two years ago. It had several testimonies on it. One that stands out is from Norman Williams. He survived the world's worst airline disaster at Tenerife. He attributes his survival to the prayers of his mother. So I ask the question, as so many others have certainly asked, were there no other mothers praying? Is God truly no respecter of persons?
For several years I was active with a local religious group (and I intentionally use the word religious) they hold one or two annual retreats, which in and of themselves are beneficial to a lot of people. On these weekend retreats, people can reflect back to their past and unload some baggage. But like so many religious things, they broadcast a formula for success and blessings from God. They have several speakers who give testimony of how wonderful life is because they did some specific thing. Such as; I began praying about this in this way and God opened a door. So now what do you tell the person sitting in the same room, who has been or is in the same situation and has prayed the same prayer, yet it did not help?
I read the book The Circle Maker several years ago. It too is filled with testimonies, things that to me have become just stories. Are they real or just some fiction to sell a book?
I've been in the same places, prayed the same prayers, still life sucks.
It becomes hard to keep your spirit alive when all of your dreams die. That's what I live every day, every dream I've had, every long term plan has been destroyed. Some by my own mistakes but most from outside influences. Even looking back at things which happened, makes the pain greater. In the past 20 years, I cannot count the times when I thought things were finally turning around, that I was actually going to taste success only to have it snatched away again.
A few weeks ago a Facebook friend posted a link to a video. I was hesitant to watch, having a pretty good idea it would detail some loss or suffering, some action of prayer or sacrifice and then life would be good again. I was pretty close. Testimonies have become like Hallmark movies, they all end happy. Life does not end happy.
I listened to this particular speaker's story, she lost an unborn child, been there, actually we lost two. She got several phone calls of bad news in the same day. The baby, and both parents had cancer. While I haven't yet had a cancer call, I have had my share of bad calls. January has 31 days, in 2016, in the month of January, on 28 days my family suffered some loss or received bad news. It ranged from identity theft, through auto accidents, serious injuries, diseases, and death. I turned my phone off the last week of January, and as most people are familiar with the story of Pavlov's dog, when my phone rings today, the first thing that happens is I get a knot in my stomach. In 2017 I thought things were making a turn, only to again lose before the year ended. Again this year I thought maybe I could dream again, that life had become stable and I could plan for a future. On August 18th that dream too was destroyed. My wife was rear-ended while stopped at an intersection. While the other party was at fault, and they do have insurance, our lives will never be the same. My wife has multiple injuries and will require multiple surgeries. She's been a nurse for 30 years but will not be able to do that any more. I have some people offering help, most say if you need anything. I appreciate the offers. But I don't know anyone who can actually fix the specific problems I have.
So now I can hear the self righteous saying; stop feeling sorry for yourself. If you think that's what this is all about then you miss my point. There are a lot more people like me out there than anyone knows or wants to admit, and the saccharine sweet platitudes of "Christians" do not help. In many cases they make it worse.
We'll somehow survive this, I will confess little hope in finding the joy that I once had. But there is no promise of joy in this world. There is no promise of a happy or prosperous life, there is a promise of hardships. And a promise that some day this life will end and a new better life awaits.
If you really want to be an inspiration to someone, really want to share hope. Then don't send some picture or quote some scripture verse. Go buy a pizza and take it to their house. Sit and listen, really listen, what is life really like behind the mask we wear? Is it OK or are you empty inside? The Gospel is not a Facebook meme, it's not a CD of testimonies or a book. It's people actually loving people one at a time. It's not about promises that you can't keep. It's just I love you, no matter what, because if it's conditional then it's not love.