About a month ago, I became an ordained minister. The reason I did this is almost entirely because a friend was thinking of having me marry her and her fiancee, but they ended up getting the minister they *really* wanted instead. I got my ordination online through the Universal Life Monastery, which is a non-denominational, Christian church. I can now legally officiate at weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. It will be useful as I embark on my life's journey toward helping people in the dying and bereavement processes of their lives.
This sort of reminds me of the memoir Here if You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup, a chaplain for the forestry service. I've read so many such books in my lifetime that it should have always been obvious to me that I wanted to help those people who need comfort and a good listener. Braestrup starts her memoir at a campsite, sitting with two parents whose little girl has disappeared into the woods. It's a beautiful book.
This has made me start thinking a lot about what I think of God.
I'll focus on two things. (1) Does God intervene and produce challenges and obstacles to some people but not to others? (2) Is it true that God won't give us more than we can handle?
Recently, Tom Zuba, a grief expert and bereaved father, asked: "The God I believe in doesn't play us like pawns. He gives us free will and allows us each to follow a path of our choosing, along which we will lean the lessons we need. One thing is for certain, none of us will ever escape learning the lesson of loss."
I really believe that. I think that there is no "grand plan" but that our little choices and moves along the way brings us in contact with exactly what we know - deep down inside - we need to learn in order to grow. Don't ask me to explain the cosmology of that, but it feels true to me. Every step, every choice, every decision I've made in my life has brought me to this moment. If God were up there in his heaven, moving us around and making mischief with our lives, don't you think that would negate the idea of free will? I'd be interested to hear what you think.
"I know that God won't give me more than I can handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much." - Mother Teresa
That has always been one of my favorite quotes, to the point where I bought a plaque with that quote emblazoned on it. But is it true that (even assuming I'm wrong about the first point) God won't heap our plate with more than will fit on it? It certainly seems like some people I know have way more than their fair share of troubles, and others have a fairly smooth and stable life. It doesn't seem, then, that God is paying attention to how much is piled on us. My belief is that we simply encounter what we encounter on the path of our choosing. We have the free will, then, to either deal with the obstacles and troubles and keep living or we can choose to end it all - or to not cope at all. For example, if you watch any of the reality TV shows about hoarding, almost every one of those people has had some kind of setback or tragedy in their lives at which point they began to hold onto everything, protecting themselves from further tragedy by walling themselves in, seemingly protected from the world.
The healthiest way to deal with life's challenges, of course, is to face them head-on. That is extremely hard to do, but if we can summon the energy and master the coping skills we need to navigate the complex roadblocks of life, we grow as human beings. We can then pass on the things we've learned to our friends, family, and even the world at large.
Maybe it seems as though God doesn't give us more than we can handle because we do seem to get through these hardships and challenges. That doesn't, however, mean that He went easy on us. It just means that we choose to take the high road. We don't kill ourselves out of fear or frustration. If God, after all, chose to not give us more than we could handle, he would never have taken my Stephanie away from me. I handled that tragedy, not because it was within some kind of arbitrary limit for what I could handle, but because I had no choice. I had to go on living and breathing. I summoned the strength and learned the coping skills necessary to get through it.
Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Peace - D