Leader of the Third Rock
photo courtesy of NASA
His words were a nice reminder.
Scratch that. Not nice. Necessary.
They were simple and concise, known and understood, but still existential. Perhaps even crucial to the next moment and the moment after. The words clung to my mouth, like drops of honeysuckle from the monstrosity of a bush that overtook my parent's backyard every bug-infested summer and chopping it down neither cleared the view nor lightened the spirit. That honeysuckle bush, with it's creamy buds tickling the senses and patient sweetness there for the taking, had to survive.
I hung up the phone and thought, "That's right. That's exactly right. I'm not defeated. What a filthy lie."
Optimism does nothing for me. When faced with a reality of death, destruction, mayhem or just a really, bad day, a dose of "the sun will come out tomorrow" ticks me off.
I don't care about tomorrow. I'm living the now...now. And peppy people get on my nerves. Optimism for optimism's sake is pathetic denial. There is no law of nature that requires the world to automatically right itself, the day to end like a sitcom, or the bad guys to actually get "it", whatever "it" is, in the end.
Justice isn't guaranteed, neither is goodness, rightness, or even the victory of truth. In the end, the innocent might die and the cheaters might win. And believing otherwise, for believing's sake, means you've watched too many movies.
Turn off the TV and look around. Life is ugly.
Last night I went to asleep with a simply prayer, "God help." It was more out of desperation or depression.
The last few weeks have been a Chinese water-torture of bad news, each drop expanding a cesspool of woe. Myself, along with family and friends, take variable turns losing jobs, losing money, losing health, all while our President apologies for our existence and publishes classified memos so our enemies feel safer.
The world hasn't gone mad. That happened ages ago. But now we've taken down the gates and invited the madman to afternoon tea.
Why fight for prosperity, for safety, for truth, even for hope, when defeat had already crossed the finish line and sat picking our future from between it's yellowed teeth?
Then, he spoke. And real change happened.
I was chasing down a story for one of my clients, seeking a source. He was a real possibility and so we talked. The article is about spiritual authority, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And admittedly, I was hoping the article would inspire others with courage, not taking into consideration I was one of the "others."
Then he said something. I had heard it before. Lots, actually. And it wasn't any great revelation. He said, "When we pray, we are actually praying to Jesus Christ, asking Him to make intercession, to pray, essentially, for us."
Right, right. I nodded. Writing down his contact info, with the haze of the rainy day clinging to the window outside and my mood just beyond. Right. Got it. Knew that. Moving on.
But I didn't move on. It rested on my slumped shoulder, like a whisper growing in volume as the wind carried it further away. I'm talking to the Son of God.
Now, for those of us who are Christians, that's pretty basic stuff. Jesus 101. We pray, He hears. I learned that on the first day.
"We think it's about the routine of prayer," he went on. "But it's not. It isn't the words we speak. God is looking at our heart."
Right, right. Heard it all before. Nothing new to see hear everyone. Moving on.
Yet again, I didn't. I stopped. It was really just a pause, a hitch. I felt my mind hesitate, as if trying to decide between crossing the road or standing at the corner reading the street signs. I paused somewhere between the double yellow lines. We pray. Jesus acts. God hears. What a blissfully, marvelous concept.
Suddenly, my exhaustion didn't overwhelm, it didn't irritate, it didn't intimidate. I hadn't forgotten that God hears me. I had forgotten He does anything about it. For far too long, I think it's all up to me.
I have a savior complex. I do. It's got a nasally voice and short legs and whenever I have battles to win and mountains to move, it pulls a hamstring and pouts in the corner. The darn thing is absolutely useless and smells like Baby Power deodorant. And when it fails, I feel like a failure too. I can't right the wrongs. My family is still struggling financially. My friends are still going into surgery. And I'm still at a loss to finish the laundry. Success is a myth.
But what if it isn't up to me? What if I actually serve a God, THE GOD, mind you, who talked and Annapurna formed, who met death and laughed at it, who thought up the Bumblebee Bat, who would have more Twitter friends than Ashton Kutcher, who neither needs me nor requires my devotion but loves me anyway, who never checks opinion polls before acting, who shoulders the weight and criticism of the entire planet without a single slipped disc, who not only listens to my prayers, but acts on them? What if I served a God like that? Wouldn't that mean I could rest? Wouldn't that mean I could hope? Wouldn't that mean I could trust the future, whatever it was? Wouldn't I be the most powerful person in the world?