This year I've obviously written much less. As the cursor blinks, I wonder why I have so few answers. I wonder where the analogies are, why I can't boil down what I'm learning or sum up the moments of these days and months.
The fact is that this has been a year of questions more than answers. Last year at this time, I was being broken again. Events happened that were beyond my power, and that feeling of being out-of-control, of being so frustrated and (dare I say) angry with God sent me into a dark time. I wrestled with who God was all over again. I even stopped wrestling at times and tried to numb myself with TV, knitting projects, puzzles, anything to forget the pain. As the series of crises eased off, the lingering sense of helplessness and isolation remained. I looked at God and church through raw experiences that didn't match the neat little packages of "pray and receive" or "come for fellowship and be accepted and helped."
No. My problems ran too deep to share over casual "How was your vacation?" conversation. My questions and searching weren't socially acceptable. So I hid them. I went underground and withdrew from sharing. It was easier, and I didn't know what else to do. It became normal for me to skip a week (or more) of Bible reading, only to catch up in binge reading so that I wouldn't lose my anchor altogether.
My prayers were sparse and I stopped condemning myself for it. I wondered where God was. People asked me to pray for trivial things, and I wanted to scream that I could barely pray for my family and myself. I knew things could get even worse, so I'd try to remain thankful almost in fear of suffering more loss if I became ungrateful. A flicker of hope was found in reading about people who struggled with the same disillusionment. Those who had lived in the bubble of suburban "life-works-out" and suddenly found themselves falling from that protective bulb, tumbling into a hole they couldn't pray themselves out of. It happened to me.
So for those of you who have circumstances that God hasn't changed; for those who have prayed and cried out to God for relief only to wake up to stumble over a fresh obstacle the next day; for those who wonder when this will end, when the Savior will reveal his deliverance - this year is a year I sat with you and said, I am here too. I have no answers, but I am here with you, and my faith still remains. God is who he says he is. The evening sunset declares it. His intricate design of every cell in our bodies magnifies his brilliance. He is mysterious and incomprehensible. All I know is that the more I desire to know him and the closer I want to draw, the harder life seems to get, and the more pain I feel. And yet, that place in my heart that should be hardened, bitter, and resentful is still a wide open wound, throbbing with even greater hunger for his love.
I realize more than ever how real and subversive and subtle evil is. And along with that knowledge is my need for someone powerful enough, loving enough, wise enough to help me. The temptation to turn to a counterfeit is crushing at times. Just feed that immediate need with a person or show or celebrity who can make you feel better, but they are shadows and disappointments in the end.
I can't explain it, but Jesus is somehow with me, especially in the lonely nights. He's not fixing the situation but is slowly changing my heart. He's the only one who overcame death, and he invites me with all my questions, with my secret doubts, with my shameful angry outbursts and confusion to have breakfast with him just like Peter who failed. Without judgment, he receives me, understands, and encourages me to keep going, to keep feeding lambs and tending sheep.
In a year of questions, I need to cling to the One who is the answer.
"The pupil dilates in the darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God."
-Victor Hugo (Les Miserables)