Recently, I came across a quote about writing: “The difference between fiction and non-fiction is that fiction needs to be believable.” This line was echoing in my head as we walked our big girl into the elementary school cafeteria. We were helping her get her legs under her, familiarizing her with her new Kindergarten routine. For a few days, at least, nervous parents are allowed to bring their excited kids into the cafeteria to muster with their teachers and classes before they form up to walk to their respective classes, single file.
Given my daughter’s sensitivity and my proclivity to tears, I was steeled against my emotions, committed to conveying my confidence in her ability to navigate this day. But when I looked at the sandy-blond boy sitting at the end of the table with his prominent name tag pronouncing to the world that his name is ‘William’, I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t believe this if it wasn’t happening to me”. But I only cried a little– just enough that the tears could be blinked away. And when she marched to her class and we waved goodbye from the doorway, I didn’t cry when she ran to her mother to sob in her arms and protest that she would miss us too much.
And I didn’t cry when I went to the store afterward, commissioned with the task of buying supplies to make a giant cookie to commemorate this first day of school. Sure, I bought enough flour and sugar and eggs and butter to make 27 giant cookies, but I held it together. I cried when I came home with two kids and put one of them down for her morning nap. Grateful to have two little bodies to hug and kiss, and with a worry about the one who is somewhere else today, and with a longing for the one who has already departed this plane and yet exists in the space he left here.
Sometimes I feel some empathy for God. Because to the degree that God is omnipotent, God is therefore the repository for all of our losses and disappointments. For at the end of the day, God alone is the one who might have staved off our losses and prevented our disappointments. God gets all the blame, and that’s hardly fair to God. This I affirm, even as I carry with me a simmering sense of resentment.
Yet even at the same time, I find comfort in God alone. To whom else can I plaster my blame, and in who else can I find my hope? So this relationship is complicated and full of tension. It would seem disingenuous to simply surrender to God, but I have negotiated some kind of détente– an uneasy acceptance of the current terms of the relationship. An awareness of the tensions and discomfits, even as both parties recognize that what has gone before is intractable, and what lies ahead will hopefully be better and more peaceable.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend about the experience of being angry at God. And she said something that seemed like a wonderful goal for me: “I’ve come to some kind of truce, not peace yet, with God.”
God of grace and disappointments, God of kindness and pain, God of suffering and healing, God of absence and presence, God of weakness and strength, we worship you. We wrestle with you, and we honor you in all of your ways.