I learned my lesson a long time ago about arguing WITH God....but arguing ABOUT God is such a different story. I told a friend today that I wasn't going to talk to them about God anymore. How Christian of me, right? Truth be told? I didn't feel bad for saying it - in fact, I felt rather relieved.
It seems I have a lot of friends struggling with life and relationships right now. It breaks my heart to see, and as a problem solver, I always want to step in and fix those problems. However, it is not my place to fix it all. This is something I am learning (sometimes better than other times). The hardest part is when it appears the problems/issues have been brought on by conscious decisions. It makes me sad and frustrated. The most frustrating part is blaming God.
One of my best friends is from a background almost as different from mine as possible. At first, it was the differences that helped the friendship grow. Our first conversation, almost 8 1/2 years ago was about God. He was struggling with the end of a long relationship and through mutual friends was told that I had good insight and strong faith. (What a compliment at the time.) As our initial conversation took shape, it was clear to me that we had different views on God. The basics were the same - belief in the Bible, that Jesus was the Son of God, and salvation is through Christ. Everything else had different twists/spins on it. This was one of the first times in my sheltered life that I had experienced someone who did not believe in God that way that I do.
Over the next eight and half years, a friendship grew. At times it was healthy and positively challenging, too frequently it was co-dependent and unhealthy. I learned a lot about myself during those years - but from the friendship and from the places that God had me during those times. There were a lot of days (...weeks...months....even years) that I pushed God away. I got tired of the frustration of the people around me and what I perceived as God not answering prayers, so after many (0ne-way) conversations with God about my frustrations and his lack of changing things, I just quit praying all together. Real mature on my part, right? haha
One of the best things I have ever done for myself was move back to Texas this May. I had known in my heart for a while that it was time to move, and despite my desires to explore the world and look to live elsewhere, I knew all along that the first step to getting back on track was to move 'home' (literally!). That meant, however, leaving behind my home of the past 7 years, good friends, amazing coworkers, a lifestyle befitting of my severe introversion, and the proximity of my best friend. It was hard. It has been hard. It has also been amazing.
God brought me right where I needed to be (geographically) so that He and I can bring me where I need to be spiritually and emotionally. Am I there yet? Geographically, yes; Spiritually and Emotionally, not yet. That's okay; it's a process. I am loving the changes I am seeing in myself. I sleep so much better at night. I have less guilt. I love deeper. I appreciate small things more. I have less stress. And above all, I have a better understanding of God and my personal relationship with him.
For the first time, I truly understand that God is and should be different for everyone. I am comfortable with that. We all pray differently, we can read the same passage of the Bible and get something different out of it, we can experience the same situation and come out with different understandings and meanings. God is amazing like that.
Funny thing about all of this is, the more I become comfortable with God in this sense, and the more at peace I feel, the more I see those around me struggling. I'm sure it was there all along, but my selfishness had blinded me to it. Now, my eyes are opened a little more.
So, back to this friend. He is again struggling with a difficult relationship. It is much easier, yet harder at the same time, to be experiencing this from 500 miles away. This has become one of the most frustrating experiences in a long time, and it is ongoing. First of all, it is hard to see a friend hurting. It is hard when you can not do anything to ease someone else's pain. It is hard when some of their pain comes at the hands of another person. What is really, really, really hard is the constant blaming of God. I can not handle that. I don't know how to answer someone who says "well, this is what God wants for my life, so this is how it is," or "God wants me to be miserable, so I am." I mean....where do people come up with this stuff? I think it stems from the "Genie in a bottle" Matthew 7:7 theory of God - whatever I ask for, I'll get. Like that's all there is to it. Imagine a world where that theory held up - I ask God for a million dollars, and I get it - because I asked. I asked God for a husband - and *poof* there he is - because I asked. I asked God for children - *poof* a house full.
There is so much more to it then that. I have tried and tried and tried to explain my perception and what I think. I might as well beat my head against a wall.
The God I believe in wants me to seek HIM with my whole heart. I believe that my God wants me to prosper - but not in the material sense that I have so long wanted to believe. My God desires for me to know him fully and seek a greater understanding of Him - not for my days on earth, but so I can fellowship with him and inherit all He has for me in eternity. I have chosen to read a little further from Matthew 7:7 - verse 21 says "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." To me, it is pretty cut and dry. I guess you just have to be ready to listen and receive.
What a frustrating last few weeks it has been. I have let this situation creep into some of my other insecurities. I do not for a minute doubt my faith, but I have doubted my ability to express my faith. I have doubted my level of friendship. When I said last night I would no longer talk to this person about God, I even doubted my devotion and level of commitment to God. I sat across the table from my mom at lunch the other day (P.F. Changs - yummo) - and told her how frustrated I was because I felt like this one person was trying to steal my joy. How sad. I know that is not the entire truth - and I know this person is not being malicious in his words. He is merely struggling to find answers. Here's where I get to a part not everyone may agree with. I don't necessarily feel it is my place to 'teach' him these answers. Aside from my frustration, I feel strongly that women are not meant to teach men in matters of spirituality. That's not to say that I would never answer a question or point someone in a certain direction, but I don't feel that it is my place to teach him and be that support for him. I have time and again encouraged him to talk to a pastor or another man. I have even given suggestions as to who and even offered to make phone calls to set things up. Nope - he's having none of that.
I'm at my witt's end. I don't know what else to do except continue to pray. I have decided that some people just want an easy answer and want God to be 'easy' for them. I don't know what else to do.
At what point is it being selfish? At what point is it giving up? Is self-preservation a smart move? What about those you leave behind? I'm confused, frustrated, and done at this point.