Desperate Conversations with God

A woman spoke at chapel last year, at Fox, and her name is Susan Isaacs. She is an actress and comedienne who was in the Groundlings with Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon and Cheri O'Teri, and the SNL fanboy in me was doing backflips when she told us. She was hilarious, as one would expect from a student of improv comedy, but what impressed me most was her attitude towards God, her candor, her sincerity. I haven't read her book yet, which is poignantly called Angry Conversations with God, but I feel like the premise is already close to my heart. I've had those conversations. I've screamed at God, sworn, whined, blamed God for things that weren't God's fault. He or She hasn't even smote me (yet), and I suspect the reason is God isn't nearly as uptight as we like to think God is. God loves us, us, the petulant children that we are. God's love for us is radical and unconditional. And angry conversations with God can be therapeutic, and holy, because honesty is holy.


I'm not alone either. The same Christians who attempt to avoid these real conversations with God are often also the ones who claim to love the Bible the most, but the Bible is absolutely full of these characters, ones who have had the angriest conversations with God. Abraham and Moses argued with God on behalf of their people, their families, Job railed on for forty-two chapters about how God had wronged him, and the prophets lamented the apparent absence of God as their people suffered. All the "holiest" people in the Bible doubted, and worried, complained and got pissed at God, even when God didn't deserve it. And how did God respond? Well, at the end of the Job's story, God shows up, and answers Job, and blesses him, while Job's pious friends, the ones who had discouraged his frankness with God, receive no such blessing. God rewards sincerity and honesty over appearances and saving face.

But I'm not here to talk about those angry conversations, not really. I've been thinking for a little while about a similar but distinct type of conversation we have with God from time to time, when life has turned us out, stripped us of our conscientious self-awareness and left us with raw vulnerability. When life is so painful and unfair we can't keep up the charades we perform for the world, or continue on with our hollow aspirations, we have no choice but to be honest with God. Again we turn to Job to lend words to this universal impulse:

“I loathe my very life;
    therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
    and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. (Job 10:1)

I guess Job isn't necessarily speaking about a distinct type of conversation with God so much as describing a particular reason for having a sincere, angry one. Here he laments that the injustice of his predicament has left him so wretched he will no longer hold back his true feelings from God. He will "give free rein to [his] complaint and speak out the bitterness of [his] soul." He will have, what I like to call, a 

DESPERATE CONVERSATION WITH GOD.

It's pretty tragic it would take Job loathing his very life to become real with God. But what I see more often in my life, and in our time and culture, is that we have to loathe our very lives before we even think of God, let alone become transparent with Him or Her. We must have grown desperate with the hell of the day-to-day before we desire God. And that's ok. Sometimes it takes losing everything, contentment, assurance, even hope, to realize all we really need is the embrace of our Father. Sure, we turn our heads to the heavens in frustration far more than in gratitude, but I don't think God minds so much.

I think God loves the sound of your voice, even if it's just whining and complaining. And as much as it breaks God's heart to hear your pain, I know it would break His or Her heart even more if you stopped talking. You are God's child, after all. 

Desperate conversation is better than no conversation, AND, desperate conversation is a step in the right direction. We spend so much time posturing ourselves for others, for our bosses and teachers and colleagues and friends, that bowing down, on our knees before God, even grovelling a little, it's good for the soul. The humility that arrives when we've reached the end of our ropes, it is a beautiful and holy thing.

So life has handed you the short straw, and the devil has made your life his playground. So you feel picked on by people, by circumstance, even by God. Does this sound familiar? My guess is it does, because I think the secret is we're all pretty desperate. We all feel like the deck is stacked against us. So why wait to get real with God? Why wait to come home and have it out with your Dad? Say everything you've been meaning to say, cry, piss and moan, and don't stop talking until you know you've been heard. After all, God is patient, God is kind. He or She is not easily angered, He or She keeps no record of wrongs. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God is a good Father. A good father. It takes some convincing for me to believe there is such a thing, but God is teaching me.

God will listen, even if the prayer is as long as Job's or as short as "Help!" And maybe the only answer you'll get is: I'm here. That's all God really said to Job. I'm here Job. Your life sucks, but I know what I'm doing, and I'm here. You can keep whining if you want though. Maybe I'm paraphrasing God, and maybe there's a penalty for such things, but I'll take my chances. My heart's in the right place.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:9-11

Comments

  1. Dude, so good. This seriously inspires me.

    And I read the whole thing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Megan! Also, this is the first comment I've gotten in, like, a year and a half, so you're my favorite reader right now. Maybe forever if I never get another comment.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I'm With Her (And Not With Him)

5 Most Unexpectedly Theological Films of 2016

Jordan's Top 20 Films of 2016