Thursday, March 8, 2012

An Alternative, Part 2

This upcoming Monday, Gareth is scheduled to undergo an esophageal dilation.  The surgical site in his esophagus has narrowed since he was born, which explains the more-and-more frequent choking episodes that he has been suffering through.  The dilation will stretch out his esophagus at the narrowed point, hopefully providing much needed relief to my precious boy.  The procedure should take little less than an hour, but he will need to be under general anesthesia - which means needles, IV's and a VERY VERY upset little boy.  I'm not excited about it.  I'm looking forward to the change the procedure will bring, I'm just dreading the process of getting that change.  Naively enough, I thought that I was past dramatic emotional stomach clenching when it came to Gareth's health concerns, but I was wrong - when I got off the phone with the nurse to schedule the procedure, I cried a bit.  Once again, the otherness of my life hit me incredibly hard.  I'm taking my almost-two-year-old to get his esophagus dilated - WHO DOES THAT?!

Once again, I found myself wishing for a different life, an alternative story.

In my last post (almost two weeks ago? sorry!) I talked about the idea that we all want to be a part of a different "story" than the one we're living.  Why?  Well, because a lot of the time, our stories suck.  They are stories of pain - of betrayal, of confusion, loss, injustice, inadequacy and fear.  Unlike the stories we were raised on, the stories we live out go like this: evil doesn't always get defeated, the good guys often lose, and happily-ever-after is usually settling-for-right-now.  That's why we're attracted to bigger stories that give our own lives a more noble context.  For example:

  • Your suffering happens because the GOVERNMENT is corrupt/inept/totalitarian; life would be better for you if the powers-to-be were replaced by the powers-that-want-to-be

That's the meta-narrative, the contextual story that we're being told during this election season.  It seeks to find answers for all of the injustices, all of the foibles of this life by labeling who is at fault and who is the victim.  We like this kind of story, because even though it doesn't solve our immediate problems, it gives us categories and limits by which we can understand what has happened to us and what will happen to us.   EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW THAT LIFE REALLY CAN'T BE THAT SIMPLY EXPLAINED.

As a Christian, though, I'm supposed to believe in another meta-narrative, a bigger story that gives my life (and my suffering) a context.   Well...I'm supposed to believe in a particular Christian meta-narrative that I honestly find incredibly dark and un-biblical.  You can read more about it here.  To sum it up (probably unfairly):

  • Your suffering happens because GOD has preordained all things according to His own mysterious will; your suffering brings GOD glory, because he has determined it and brought it about for his own purposes.

YUCK.  If I had to accept that "Big Picture", I probably wouldn't be a Christian.  The Holocaust? Chernobyl? 9/11? Gareth's birth defect? My husband's incarceration? Do I really EVER want to say that God planned it all out that way, the suffering and the violence, the grief and ripping pain, because it glorifies Him?  No.  I never want to say that.  And I never will.  I won't preach that.  I won't teach that.  I don't believe that.  That's not my bigger picture, my alternative story.

Because I can't accept that, though, part of my struggle and my faith journey is to figure out the bigger picture, the alternative story that I DO Believe.  And it goes something like this:

  • Your suffering happens because SIN has broken the world.  And because we are a human community that affects and interacts and is interdependent upon each other, we suffer the consequences of other people's choices even though we may be innocent of those choices.  But GOD is working to heal the brokenness of all things, of all people, and that healing begins though the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  So there is suffering now - BUT IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO.  So there is death now - BUT IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO.  So there is injustice now - BUT IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO.  So there is brokenness now - BUT IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO.  The Kingdom of God is coming.

That's my alternative - my way of giving context to my life.  Yes, there is suffering, there is disappointment, there is deep grief.  But I survive because I know - IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO.  God is moving - even though God seems to be doing it silently, invisibly, slowly.


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.  HAVE MERCY.

1 comment:

Christianity 101 said...

Beautiful, Elizabeth. IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO. That's the narrative - you've nailed it.

As someone with cancer, I also try to remember a couple of things about suffering:

1. No one gets through life without suffering. It is one of the few things that binds all people everywhere together.
2. Even those who appear to have lives without suffering - still have it. Everyone suffers. Not equally or all the time. Some people's suffering is "in the mail" and hasn't arrived yet.
3. Even genuine faith doesn't stop or prevent suffering. To Christ's request, "Take this cup from me." the answer was "No. You have to drink it."

I don't know what all this means, but I think it ties to your meta narrative, "IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SO"