It started on Saturday this time. Robb had to leave for a trade show for the whole weekend, which was abhorrent to both of us. This is the first time he's had to travel over "Vintage family time," but his boss was insistent that he go despite all his protests. And so, after a long Saturday of chores and work, the Vesper service loomed large on my radar. I did not want to go. As the time drew near to get ready, the kids finally got into a good playing groove for the first time all day. And I was mid project. The weather was mild. I hate to stop mid project. No really, I HATE it. But I was resigned to go because I knew how much work my friends had put into getting it ready.
Vintage Vesper services are times of liturgical reading, sitting quietly in the dark with candlelight, with almost a performance art kind of quality. The first time, I was captivated. This time, I expected to settle in and find some reward for attending, but the kids were antsy and bickered with one another over their seats and I was not relaxing at all. As the times of silence drew on, I could feel an inner turmoil rising in my chest, which felt like the beginnings of a panic attack. Internally, I was screaming, "I don't want to be here! I'm here but I am not here. I'm not here, God." Finally, I closed my eyes and told God what I had been thinking all along....that I was angry with Him. I was angry that Robb was on a trip when he should be at home. I was angry that instead of my business doing well so that we can have Robb full time at Vintage, my business was the worst it has ever been. This month has been terrible. I was angry that God just seemed to have forgotten about us....that He seemed completely unconcerned about my prayers all that day to move things, to comfort me, reassure me that we are on the right path, give me some insight, just act like He is listening...
"Hide not our face from your servant; be swift and answer me, for I am in distress." flashed across the screen.
Being honest with God is ugly business. But he already knows, so why not have the satisfaction of saying it. So I said it. When I opened my eyes, the words that danced from the projector said this "My grief is this: That the right hand of the Most High has lost is power."
That. That, God. What the Psalmist said. That's it.
I went home, knowing that He heard me at least. That my request had been received at central processing and I would be notified of further changes when the bureaucracy of Heaven had reviewed my hopes and dreams.
Oh hey, don't get me wrong. Don't think I don't know that my hopes and dreams are subject to the approval of God's will. But what is so bad about my wanting my husband at home?
So, scurry, feed the kids dinner.... Junk, again. *Sigh.* My own pants are too tight. The scale is registering higher than it ever has before. Another battle that must be faced. Baths and bedtime. Hugs and kisses. We miss Daddy.
Sunday morning is all wrong without him. A well-oiled machine, minus the one main cog, barely functions. Once at church, I feel strangely ok. I hear that we have to fight. Sometimes with one another and sometimes with God himself. Because in the fighting, you gain an intimacy that you never would without the fight. That a tested relationship is better than an untested one. I am thinking about the changes that have to made at the Gallery and how I am leading the meeting on Wednesday and how some are opposed to the changes and one even sent me a nasty email about it. The conflict ahead is on my mind. Someone asks me, "Is that really the best venue for you? Is there someplace else that would be a better fit? " And I am struck by the realization that many of my experiences as a pastor's wife all these years actually matter in this case. My past experience is actually useful for something more than painfully amusing anecdotes with other people in ministry jobs. I have no guarantee of success but I have the best shot of anyone at this point.
Sunday afternoon should be sabbath rest time. I try. But my mind is too busy and I sneak work on my computer while I should be napping, reading something pleasant, trusting God with my concerns enough to stop poking at the smoldering piles that I wish would just ignite already.
I emerge to feed the kids dinner more distracted and irritated than ever. The girls want to watch the Oscars and Vin wants to watch a movie. We eat more junk food. I loathe myself. My soul feels scratchy.
I try to settle in and get lost in the fluffy entertainment. The dog starts to bark and growl and I turn to see a face pressed against the glass of my front door. It is my neighbor. Non verbal, autistic, young, but big and uncannily strong for his age. He shouldn't be out alone. He fumbles with the door knob and I guiltily lock the door. "I will call your Mom." I say loudly, but trying to be reassuring. The equal forces of compassion and concern for this boy, adrenaline from being startled and guilt for being afraid of him throbbed in my ears and left my hands shaky as I rifled the drawers looking for my neighbor's phone number. He left. I felt more guilt and fear for letting him leave. I finally found the number and called.
He's home safe. She saw the door open and called for him and he came right home. Did I sound like the ignorant fearful to her? I worried. I am compassionate for my neighbor but I also remember Robb's first job with mentally handicapped adults, some with un-human strength. Why do I have to be so weak and pathetic?
Unnerved, I sent the kids to bed. Tried to get interested in something. Went to bed myself, with a re-run of an old tv show to drone out my own thoughts. In the dark, with just the screen's light, I tried to relax. The wind was picking up. Suddenly, I felt the bed move, as if one of the children had pushed against it. "Who's there?" I sat up, startled. No answer. Turned on the light. The storm began to howl outside and so I checked the weather website. Tornadoes possible. Relaxing was off the table. It was time to stand guard again. "Alone again." I was remembering being alone during the big ice storm a few years ago. How I wrestled with God then, too. We had a veritable death match that time while Robb was stuck in Georgia with a suitcase full of much needed firewood to bring home... if he could get home. Ice storms, snow storms, and now a tornado, God? I got back in bed assuming that if my Netflix network connection was lost, I would know to go get the kids from upstairs. The storm got louder and one by one, the children appeared at my bedside. It was muggy with the four of us scrunched together, but at least we were together.
In the morning, I learned that odd thump against my bed was an earthquake. The tv antenna was knocked to the floor and who knows what else is askew...I've been too tired to find out.
But the storm and the quake were somehow satisfying. The hail, the wind, the sheer force of it...
"....You are the God who works wonders
and have declared your power among the peoples...
The clouds poured out water
the skies thundered; your arrows flashed to and fro;
The sound of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightenings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook..."
I don't know why God doesn't act when He could. But at least I know that it isn't because He lacks the power.