where’s my damn soapbox?

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted in quite a while. It’s been a strange couple of weeks. Strange, strained, emotional, quiet, harried. Grief still runs through the family, and I’m still not sure where I stand amidst it.

Death can call things into question, things you once held as true, things you took for granted, things that… maybe you were wrong about. Faith is shaken, if it was ever really there to begin with. Answers are sought–demanded, in fact. Blame may well be placed.

For the average Christian (family), death is not considered the end. And if the one who died was Christian, death really ought not be so tragic. But we are only human, aren’t we? We only see a very small part of the picture. We cannot conceive the good that may come out of the loss of a loved one, cannot imagine how a loving God could countenance such an act. “Why didn’t God save him or her?” is the one question our mind can handle.

The average Christian possesses many misconceptions about life, God, sin, and faithfulness. As a former church-goer, I heard them all the time and I also swallowed each mistruth whole. Shall I share them all? Well, I don’t know. I’d rather not turn my blogpost into a theological landmine. You can ask, though, and I’ll try to answer. But for now, I’d just say that no, I don’t think God will give us everything we want just because we pray, or tithe, or read the Bible, or give to the poor. And if you think God owes you a solid because you’ve been a good little soldier, you’re in for a terrible surprise.

Ugh, now I’ve gone and gotten passionate about something. But listen, friend–you who have lost someone–a miracle is only a miracle because it’s unexpected. Otherwise, you should call it an expectation and go on and create your own rules and your own religion.

You know, screw it. Let’s not pull any punches here.

Being a Christian sucks. It’s hard, and it’s unfair, and it doesn’t compromise and whisper sweet lies in your ear. But a lot of things suck that are worthwhile and good. Exercise. Eating healthy. Childbirth. You think faith in the face of adversity is stupid? You think heaven’s a copout? You think belief in a higher power is easy?

Let me tell you, believing in nothing is the easy route. Because with belief comes hope, and with hope comes the possibility that your hope will be dashed on the rocks of tragedy. That is not easy, nor is it really altogether foolish. Those of you who say that we are sufficient, that we need no one and nothing other than ourselves… we are not gods. We are not all-powerful and all-seeing. The world does not answer to our whims. We are not sufficient, because the world is completely out of our control. Our own lives are out of our control. My step-sister did not control the cancer that struck, nor did she control the devastation it wrought upon her, and she certainly didn’t control the end it led her and us toward. She controlled a few things, yes. I won’t say different. She controlled how she responded. But that was all. Is that enough, you say? Perhaps for you. And more power to you if that’s where you stand.

Believing in God is hard. Trusting that there is a reason for everything is damn near impossible.

Now maybe one day I’ll be proven wrong, that I was deluded to ever put stock in all this malarkey. Fine. I’m okay with that possibility. Maybe I’ve pissed some of you off. That’s fine too. Sometimes it’s best to offend somebody, so long as you’re honest. Sometimes I’m just too tired to be polite.

have faith, son. or not

I was going to write about different things today. Except something happened in the early hours this morning.

My step-sister Kim died.

It wasn’t terribly unexpected. We’d known for some time she’d been fighting a losing battle with cancer. Of course, we always hoped… for… something miraculous. We hoped treatment would take. We hoped… for a lot of things that ultimately didn’t come to pass.

What does that do to one with faith? That it would all work out. That God would abide. That God is good? There are so many questions, and just not enough answers. And there never will be, not in this life. Maybe not even in the next. How does faith speak to this? I can’t quite remember.

As a favor… please do not take this the wrong way, but if any of you feel moved to leave a comment, I ask you not speak to me about faith. I just can’t bear to read it. Anything except faith.

It’s a quiet house today. My step-father, who has always been a relatively quiet type is beside himself with grief. As I looked at him today and gave my condolences, it was literally too much for me to bear to look at him for long. The tears and the anguish raw on his face… I’d never seen such emotion on his face. Not on anyone’s, not since… well, it’s been a long time.

My mother and I have been here before, and today we wander helpless, confused. What to say? What to think or feel but the loss? For myself, I cannot yet gauge my own reaction, so twisted it leaves me inside.

To see my family mourning. And I use that word, family, in a previously unrealized way. Family is not always blood, nor is it always friendship. And I have always struggled with family relations, with grasping the intimacy and loyalty that comes with it. In the coming days, I imagine that may change some.

But this wasn’t a surprise. I saw it coming but have been unable to do anything about it. Like a train headed toward me, and I’m powerless to step off the tracks. It’s only a matter of time.

I don’t know what this means for us.