Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Don't tell God you're having a bad day.

Don't tell God you've had a bad day.  He'll see it as an invitation or an opportunity.  He will breathe some mystery into it and you will somehow become humbled.  He'll make sure your words are your dinner, or the notes you fall asleep to in your head later in the night.  Whatever you do, don't admit that you might need help, or that he should take the opportunity to make you grow stronger.  Just don't tell him you've had a bad day.  I did this once, crying out in my car as I drove home, air conditioner cutting through July New Mexico heat.  It was so hot my tears dried into trails of salt, barely touching my cheeks.  I have often wondered why some people need to be so cutting with their words to complete strangers.  I have often pondered this because it seems more common than i'd like to admit.  Maybe i'm guilty, too. Maybe I've cut somebody down before, and sent them speeding into hot July afternoons, unbeknownst to my intentions.  If you admit to God that somebody has hurt you, and that you can feel your heart beginning to crumble in your chest, if you've screamed out loud for some kind taste of mercy in your troubled day, well, you are inviting God to humble you.
After sadness always comes anger.  They are cousins, you know, and they accompany eachother shamelessly on days like this.  I wiped the salt from my eyes and cheeks and gathered myself into lazy clothes and headed to the gym where I was going to run myself ragged until I no longer felt belittled.  I got onto the elliptical machine and started running angrily, pushing my legs firmly down on the footholds.  I wanted to ignore everyone and everything and just sink into some echoing beat from my iPod.  No. Not today.  The screen flickered, a small hopeful flicker and then died.  No life in the small machine I put so much hope into.  A long drawn out sigh and I fumble with the headphones, finally giving up and tossing them, annoyed into a small plastic cup.  Even technology has some small power to add to my inferiority today.  Just as I could feel my blood go from simmer to boil, a small, kind voice on my right said "It's hard to exercise without anything to distract you, isn't it?"   I turned around and there was a girl no more than 23 working out next to me.  She was smaller in build and had a kind face as she continued to talk.  "Oh well" I thought, it can't hurt to have company.
    It's odd how on your worst days, God puts somebody there in the middle of it.  Right when you start hating the world and all the people in it, God decides to place you and a stranger in the same place, at the gym you never go to, at a time you never go to it, and make you the best of friends.  The girl and I talked for a while, small-talk  mostly, but as the conversation got longer, the calorie count got higher, the shallow conversation turned serious.  "My mom died four days ago."  The girl said.  "Do you mind if I talk about it?"  How could I tell her no?  I decided to let her keep going.  "Cancer." She told me "She fought two different types but this last bout did her in.  I didn't even really know her...not well.  I grew up in the system.  Juvenile detention and foster parents. Why do I feel so sad?"
       I thought my day was bad.  I thought I deserved all the sympathy and had the most justified reasons to be angry today.  I had RSVP's on my invitation to be humbled and now, here it was, telling me that she felt depressed, almost suicidal and sorry if she was telling me all this, telling me that life was short and she regretted all the times she was angry at her mom, all the times she didn't call to tell her "I love you."  The girl asked if she was talking about it too much.  I told her about all the things I actually understood about her situation.  My brother had cancer, I work at a juvenile detention center (she told me she worked at the prison in Santa Fe), she told me teachers made the biggest positive change in her life when she was young.  I'm a teacher.  I wondered at the fact that in an hours time God had taken everything I though I knew about me and my day and turned it inside out. Me. Me. Me.  Sometimes we forget it's not always about ME in the bigger picture.  I told her that her life had purpose and although this was hard, she would grow.  She was given a new insight to how valuable we are to each other in this big, slowly spinning planet made of up heavens and earth; man and woman;child and elder; life and death; friend and stranger.  We need each other.  We need to share in others experiences and grow together.
     Don't tell God you're having a bad day because sometimes, just sometimes, we also need to be humbled.  Out of this, we grow.

1 comment:

  1. So if you don't admit you are struggling through a bad day He won't know it?
    Are you saying He will take Joy in making it worse? Amazing how we easily accept God as mean instead of loving. I get the gist of your article but can not agree less with your portrait of God.

    I will run to Him 1st because of His great love for me!