Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Red Door

Days like today, after four weeks inpatient, I have a harder time with the door.

There is a bright, red cancer door that exists at the back of my psyche. I didn't know it existed before Grace was diagnosed. When the door was opened and we had to walk her through it, my biggest fear was that she would not come out again.

After she finished treatment the first time, it shut behind us, but I couldn't lock it. I thought if I did enough good things, maybe I could somehow convince God to lock it for us. Even seeing that door made me tremble, simply because it existed. It was a bright red reminder that it could open again one day and pull Grace in. And it did.

I was even more afraid to enter it the second time.

And though Gracie isn't in any "active" danger at the moment, she's not out yet- the cancer is gone but the danger isn't. Once she's out, it will still be slightly ajar for the next year with the possibility of being flung open at any moment.

And even once it's closed I still won't be able to lock it. That door will always be there. The possibility of cancer, suffering, death will never go away. I can paint the door, I can hide it, I can ignore it, but I do not get to decide if it will be there. The door is totally out of my control. I feel paralyzed in fear of it.

I thought if I did enough good things that I could control God, make him take it away, as if life were an equation that was  as simple as:

I do good + God is good = Good life for me.

I feel safe with rules. I like equations. I work myself to death to do the "right" things, and I have tried to have "lots of faith" in part because I love to see God at work...but part of it is that I'm afraid of pain. I am somehow trying to control life by being "good" in order to protect myself. As if God were obligated to do what I wanted because I paid my dues. As if I understood more about life than God.

I think that's where a lot of my bitterness and fear are rooted. Being in control is an illusion. That illusion is now broken and I feel vulnerable and powerless. I feel so mortal. I know I am supposed to trust God and thus feel safe...but I don't. I don't feel safe. My faith is destitute.

On top of that, I have been judging myself harshly because what I thought was faith in God, was tainted. It wasn't pure faith. It was laced with selfish, self-preserving clauses as I tried control life so it wouldn't hurt me. I just didn't know it then.

I see it now. I can't stop seeing it just like I can't stop seeing that damn door.

I'm having a hard time forgiving myself for being naïve. I'm disappointed in realizing that my faith wasn't as pure as I had imagined. That I'm not as strong as I thought.

I need to stop trying to be God.

Forgive me God, 

I repent. Forgive me for trying to control my life. Pain frightens me Lord. Life is so hard and on days when I feel as weak as I do now, it seems unbearable. Still, help me to trust you. Help me as I rely on you instead of on myself. Please give me faith to trust you. My well is dry but you are the living water, and you love to generously pour out your spirit on us.

Forgive me for judging myself so harshly. I was naïve, that's true. But I would have to be God to know the difference back then, and I'm not God. Therefore I need to stop judging myself as a failed god, and instead give myself grace for being human

When I don't forgive myself it's really me trying to be God, trying to control at least one aspect of my life, and it's about as useful as tearing down my own house with my own hands. It doesn't help. So I accept your mercy and grace. I accept that I am a human and nothing more.

I will try to rely on your wisdom God and not my own. I will try to trust you to control life instead of me. I will allow myself to be weak and let you be strong. And thank you for the grace you have for me as I have failed, and will fail a thousand times a day. Still you smile on me.


God, grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is;
Not as I would have it;

Trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

And even as I was writing this, a friend sent this verse. I know that today's writing was my way of praying for help, and this is no coincidence:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you or forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

– Deuteronomy 31:8

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