When we find ourselves in this human-God relationship we often discover that there is something we want from this situation. If we're going to have a relationship with a being that is beyond our capabilities in strength, knowledge, power, who isn't even limited by time; we want to get something out of that relationship. That's only fair right? I mean, we're measly humans who are limited by nearly every damn thing possible. It'd be nice to be thrown a bone every once and a while by this Being in the Sky. Would it really kill Him/Her/Our Higher Power to make the path just a smidge easier? Couldn't She spare some cash when we need it? Or that acceptance letter to the right school, He could have made that happen, right? Otherwise, where's this supposed power He has? And after all if I'm going take my time interacting and having a relationship with this Powerful Being, who supposedly loves and cares about me, wouldn't my Higher Power want to make my life a little easier?
Except that's not exactly how things work.
There are many times when faithful people have followed hard paths of trying to live out a life they wholeheartedly believe God called them to, and everything has blown the hell up, right in their faces. More often than not the path of seeking God does not actually make life any easier, we don't get less trouble and difficulty, we get more. Why?! This doesn't make any sense to me! Why would the God-following path be harder? Why would there be more pain, or trials or illness? Why do we hurt more? There are cavalier phrases I could give you about iron sharpening iron, and refining fires. I won't, they do little for those actually thinking through these things intentionally.
What I do know is this: often following God feels like you are going exactly the wrong way. The path contains no earthly, logical sense. It will not fit in the places in your brain it needs to go. It will not answer the questions you demand to have answered. It will not stand up to the battery of the questions at Family Dinners from your grandmother, because she will want to know why you don't have a better plan. Following God rarely is logical. Following God is never easy. It will leave you confused and questioning. I could tell you there's a reward at the end of all of it, but I'm still waiting on mine. I hesitate to give other people promises on which I can't deliver.
We can not hope to go through this life without mishaps. Sometime around mid-childhood we discover that there is no getting through this adventure unscathed. We will be marked by misfortune or pain or loss. We will fail. We will experience injustice. To our pre-pubescent selves this all seems terribly unfair. Hopefully, we grow out of wallowing in that murky self-pity and come to accept life as it is with some measure of peace. Save the ones among us determined to remain solidly in the victim role until their last breath is drawn.
Lately quiet moments have been haunting me, an accusing voice has been plaguing me, telling me that somehow I messed up. Somehow I was stupid or an idiot. The single word idiot has been on repeat in my head. Telling me if I could have just foreseen and been smarter I would have made better choices and now life wouldn't look like this. But I wasn't and it's my fault. And everything my family's facing now is my fault because I was dumb.
Today a different voice spoke up (yes, I sound schizophrenic now) and said, "Hold on a freaking minute here. You are not an idiot. You have done nothing wrong. You have tried hard to protect your family. You have worked hard to make sure they are safe and secure. You are creating a future for yourself and your children. You are not at fault. How could you have known this? What transcendent power do you possess that would have gifted you with this knowledge? Have you mistaken yourself for God?"
And that voice was right. I could not have seen this in my path, not a year ago, 5 years ago or 12 years ago. I'm not omniscient. I desperately wish I was and that God, who is would have given me more of a head's up. But following God often feels like I'm going exactly the wrong way. The right way in my head is toward safety and security. Toward the white picket fence and the 401-k. Picket fences disguise themselves as prisons. And I have never been one to be fenced in. Following hard after God has always meant letting go of my personal need for security and being placed in an adventure where I am not the captain. I dislike it some days. It's uncomfortable and terrifying. I want control. I abhor having to trust another, even the Almighty. But that is what is best for me and so this is the path I will stay on.
One blind faithful step after another.