Monday, October 09, 2006

Jostling with Job

We're taking a little lectionary trip through the book of Job over the next four weeks, and I have to admit it has already been a bumpy ride for me.

Damn, I feel like such a failure compared to Job.

I was in tears during Sunday's sermon on the first few chapters.

I thought I had come through my Job times and could look at them from the other side, but I am clearly still in the middle.

And from their midst, I must admit that I do not praise God, as Job did. I question God. I question and I doubt and sometimes I scream.

I turned my own life upside down to leave a career, cut my family's finances more than in half and attend seminary. And then my father died and turned my life upside down again.

And while there was amazing support in the first days and weeks after Dad died, when the depths of my grief hit, very few people were still around to abide, to sit silently with me as Job's friends sat with him. And then, they too, were gone.

My support system collapsed. I had undercut some of it by leaving the newspaper, where there was a built-in support system among those of us who had worked more than a decade together. I became aware that while my husband could become the sole parent when my grief was overhwelming, he did not have the capacity to be an emotional support to me. And even my closest friends found my grief too overwhelming.

And so, I felt as if I faced the hardest year of my life alone emotionally.

And so I shout to God and ask why, why, why, why do I feel so alone?

I am living in the part of the book of Job where God seems absent. I am living the part where I question not so much my birth, as Job did, but my continued existence. Though, even on the worst days, I know I must live for my son and my mother.

And I wonder, when my Job times are over, will I praise God then? And I try to praise God now, but the pain is real, palpable and ongoing, even in the midst of a sense of recovery and healing.

I lost my life as I knew it, willingly. I lost my Dad, absolutely against my will. I lost my support system astonishingly. And I should praise God for all of this?

The most I can do is thank God for my life and for grace and for the unbounded love of my son, who tonight received my love when I provided first aid for a blister he got between his toes on a weekend hike. He was so grateful that I knew how to care for him. So touched that I would try to relieve his pain.

I can praise God for the love of my son. I can praise God for the hymns of recovery and love I sang at the hospital bedside of a beloved parishoner. I can praise God from whom all blessings flow. But I cannot praise God for my pain. I cannot praise God for my sense of having to face most of the worst year of my life alone emotionally. I cannot praise God that my father is no longer someone I can call on for wise counsel and unbounded love.

And so, compared to Job, I feel a failure.

So, is Job for real? Or is Job larger than life?

Is it easier to identify with Job when life is restored?

And what will my restoration life look like?

I hold a vision of hope. I cling to that hope. In fact, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' love and righteousness.

May that hope be so.



Cathy said...

Oh, I do feel your pain. The loss of your father is one I have experienced and still do on occasion. It's a significant life change along with the others you have experienced. Bless you and may you feel support through God's all encompassing love.

Sally said...

you can still praise God- that is a huge step- also I don't see Job praising God for his pain... rahter he chooses to acknowledge Gods soveringty and gives himself in the circumstances he finds himself in- you are doing this and more...
this is not a failure!
Many prayers
welcome to revgals

karen said...

My own little postscript: You know how you sometimes get a song stuck in your head and you don't know why? Often it isn't even a song you're particularly fond of? Well late last night and this morning, the song that keeps singing itself in my head is "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." And I continue to see God's Cosmic sense of humor but I'd really like to have a different praise song stuck on repeat in the mp3 player in my head. Got any suggestions?

RevErikaG said...

That is one annoying song. It's black-balled singy that one-- because it gets stuck forever in the head! I try and find something in my music collection that I can stand playing over and over again until I cast the praise song demon from my head. Alas, I am doing this now because I was stuck there with you!
Thanks for the vulnerable, beautiful post