Yes, I know, it is better to pray before all else fails. But I do not think I am made that way.
Don’t get me wrong, I can do ‘Open your Word to me Lord’ and ‘Bless this person and that situation’ prayer quite easily, well comparatively. The prayer I speak of is the tissue sodden, snot ridden, face to the floor, angrily honest type of prayer.
I will try to fix, fix and fix some more – and fail and fail and fail – before I am again driven to my knees in that kind of prayer.
Today the final straw was another day off work with a stupid, pointless cold. The foolish kind of sub-illness that makes you good for next to nothing, but does not really qualify as being ‘properly unwell’.
A little like Fibromyalgia.
In my mind I redecorate many rooms in my lovely home and tidy and clean all the corners til it sparkles a welcome.
In this same active mind I restructure the little garden of which I am so fond, making it resplendent in colour and scent.
I am a person at the top of my game; in work, in my calling, in relationships, in life. I am only just turning 39, after all, so all this happens – in my mind.
I reality, my home is filled with clutter, dust and half-finished projects.
My garden has sad looking flowers and crumbling walls.
My life is hampered with tiredness, disillusionment, vague aches, stomach pains, allergies and re-re-curring sub-illnesses that make a mockery of my plans.
So, finally, when my strength has all but failed me and my self-help strategies are shown to be the foolishness that they are…
…I get angry with God.
That, in itself, is surely a sin. As is lack of gratitude and self-pitying whining. Yet, somehow, God is okay with it – I think. He certainly seems to accept that I am disappointed in myself, and appears equally accepting when I turn this venomous disappointment in his direction, with the visceral cry of ‘Why?’
So I wear myself out with my ranting at the heavens – possibly prayer in its purest form – but probably not! Somehow, though, it helps. At least for a while. I know how I feel a little more clearly, and I perhaps see a little more clearly how God feels about that.
Many years ago, my mental health was my greatest battle. I remember the vague feeling of guilt when I realised that God was bringing me through the worst of that, yet leaving more faithful of his children (in my eyes) in a darker place than the one from which he was rescuing me. It made no sense.
Now, my physical health is a struggle. I know God could fix this – yet I do not know whether he will, or even intends to. There is something seemingly cruel and a little twisted about having the desires and hopes of a not-yet-40-something, but a body that sometimes feels older than the sprightly 80-somethings in my chapel. This is compounded by the knowledge that, with a little effort on my part (eating better, exercising more etc), the way this condition affects me could well be managed more successfully. The trouble is, it is sometimes an effort just to get off my backside and empty the overflowing washing basket, for example, so the chances of going the extra mile with regard to self-care are drastically reduced.
So, not only does not being healed (yet?) make no sense, but I am also trapped in a vicious circle with a good dollop of guilt to add to the mix.
As I said, this eventually drives me to a place of real prayer, which involves some honesty – with God and myself. I am very grateful to Burnt Sienna for the recent reprise of her post on grief, as it has given me the freedom to be honest with you guys too. This is only part of a much bigger picture, so please do not fear for my overall well-being, but it is a dark corner nonetheless. I am doing no-one any favours by pretending that it does not exist – so there it is. My anger, frustration, grief and confusion about this foolish sub-illness that occasionally saps all that I have to offer, and all that I would like to give.
I like tidy endings and neat conclusions, but this post does not want to lend itself to such. So, this is my loose end, do with it what you will…