I have a confession to make.
I know absolutely nothing about God. Over the past few months, I have exhausted myself crying and shouting and having one-sided arguments with an invisible deity who doesn’t feel the need to defend himself.
I have been envious of all of the people who can just live their lives without all of the questioning and theological debates and mental gymnastics we go through trying to understand God’s purpose in everything that goes wrong. Did God cause it? Or did he just allow it? Is he trying to teach us something? Was this a consequence of not being “within God’s will?” Etcetera. It’s enough to make me bang my head against a hard object repeatedly.
A few months ago, I stopped writing. I took down my blog posts, and decided to do some things differently. I realized that I spend a lot of time writing, but not enough time doing things worth writing about.
I’ve been re-reading the gospels, trying to figure something out about Jesus. At first, I only concluded that I have very little sympathy for the people who physically interacted with Jesus and still didn’t believe him. In all of this one-sided arguing I’ve done with an invisible deity, I would give my right arm to just walk up and ask him for myself. To see him with my own eyes. To touch him and be healed.
A few weeks ago, I went to bed, tired from my feeble attempts to hear something from God. It was a chilly night in Indiana, and I had gone out to lie down on a hard bench and listen to Bon Iver and look at the thousands of stars that you can’t see in Chicago. Eventually I turned off the music and tried to just listen, desperate to hear something other than my own thoughts bouncing around in my head. I got nothing. Maybe I hadn’t said the magic words, or listened to the right song, or tuned the radio in my head to the right frequency. I gave up and went to bed.
Then, as I was lying in bed that night, I had this feeling. I will never know for sure whether it wasn’t just my overactive imagination, or something more, but I felt like God was laughing. Not an evil, maniacal sort of laugh, but a laugh that knows a secret that I don’t know yet. I had this feeling that God was watching my life unfold the same way I would watch my favorite movie with a friend who has never seen it before. During my favorite part of the movie, I say “Here it is! This is the best part!” and then excitedly watch their reaction without giving the story away. If I had told them all of the details before it happened, what would be the fun in that?
At some point, I stopped trying so hard to change my life. Instead of sitting around trying filter the thoughts that are constantly running through my head like a news ticker, I started to do things that are positive. So, I made a list. Not a to-do list of things I feel like I should do, like updating my resume and doing my laundry and working out more, but a to-do list of things that I actually want to do, like visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, ordering pour-over coffee at Bridgeport Coffee, and going to a state park I’ve never been to before. Every time I experience something new, or listen to an very fitting song at just the right time, or see an incredible sunset while stuck in traffic on I-55, I write it down and thank God for it.
And do you know what? I feel better. Not because I’ve fallen in love, or landed the perfect job, or done anything truly amazing, but just because I’m here. Maybe there’s some great twist of fate in store for me over the next few months, or maybe the story is just about me, learning to be the best version of myself. Either way, I’m thankful.