Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Grace of Hopelessness

Today I hope for hope.

Today I need hope.

Today I come up empty.

At some point, hopelessness becomes its own weird grace. When you are hopeless, you are relieved of the burden of caring, of mattering to the world. It is a numbness of the spirit, a state wherein there's little pain even if the price is little pleasure. Sometimes that feels like a good trade-off.

And sometimes is a lie, even when I'm desperate to hide it from my eyes and chant "lalalalala I can't hear you!" lest I see and hear and be destroyed by the weight of caring and seeing that care, that desire for life, get shanked by a seeming random universe and a wholly unpredictable God who says He's good but whose actions don't seem to match.

Sometimes is a lie when I don't have the energy to keep doing what I've been doing any longer and pretending it will work *this time*, things will go differently *this time* because *this time* is the last time and the time before that, et al ad infinitum.

I can't keep seeing what I want to see instead of what's really in front of me.

I am hopeless now, so I can stop pretending.

I am hopeless now, so I can stop trying to convince myself my fears and desires were reality instead of just constructs in my head.

I am hopeless now, the castle of my perpetual self-centered fantasy is being razed, the ground sown with salt.

I am hopeless now, naked and tired, too weak to carry embarassment or denial (well, at least not as much as I used to. I'll never completely lose my awesome capacity for self-deception.)

It's a relief in a way, being hopeless. Now that I've given up, life seems clearer somehow. I know what I have to do to live.

Will I choose it? I hope so (Ah ha! Caught you, hope, sliding in through the doggy door!) but I don't *know*.


Rozenkraai said...

are hope and faith intertwined for you? do you lose faith when you lose hope? or, do you let go of expectations, of something your ego craves and expects, when you give up hope? is the grace of hopelessness opening up a space for God to be the mystery God is? a space allowing that into your life? a letting go of control?

KenWritez said...

Only faintly are the two intertwined. When I lose hope, faith is still there.

There's a scene from the movie "Monty Python & the Holy Grail" that paints an accurate word picture of my faith at these times. (My entire Christianity seems to find a home in that wonderful movie!)

King Arthur and his shining knights have just passed two peasants.

Large Man: "Who's that then?"
The Dead Collector: "I dunno, must be a king."
Large Man: "Why?"
The Dead Collector: "He's not got shit all over him."

When I lose hope, then yes, I lose expectations except one: My expectation that God will once again ignore my cries. I don't believe it's because He's evil or uncaring, I believe it's because either He's so damn alien to what I know ("My ways are not your ways" and all that) or the solution is right in front of me but I'm somehow refusing to see it. I just wish He'd tell me *why* and what to do to get out of the shit!

There's no worry about God having insufficient space in my life to be a mystery! He's got all the space He wants! LOL...

How can I honestly claim to understand God? I can't. I don't understand Him, I have no clue about Him other than what tiny, tiny bits I can cobble together from what I read in the Bible.

I suspect if I take a long, bullshit-free look at my life, my core issue is pride. Pride in that I can maintain control in the face of any circumstance.

Well, that took a major hit two years ago when I was in the hospital and had IV shunts in the back of both my hands. I had to keep these as clean as possible to guard against infection, so that meant I couldn't wipe my buttocks after crapping--I had to call a nurse to do it.

Unless you've been reduced to this or a similar level of helplessness, you have no idea what it does to your self-image. Just fucks it up.

All my cocky b.s., all my jokes and intellectual tap-dancing meant zero. I had to call for someone to wipe my ass, standing there in the hospital room, my gown hiked up around my waist, my crappy ass flying in the wind. I felt as if I'd been reduced to infancy again. It was oddly comforting in a really bizarre way but it was also humiliating.

I say I give God all the space He needs to be a mystery, but knowing my penchant for self-deception, I could just as easily be wrong.

If I start with the premise that God is perfectly good, perfectly loving, then the disconnect in my experience of Him lies in me, not Him. I can't blame Him for my blindness.

Here's the ass-kick: I believe that premise. That belief has seen more shit flung at it, been beat on, starved, shot at, dropped in the toilet, set on fire, left out in the rain and the desert sun, painted garish colors and dressed up like a little fireman (okay, that's a weird image, dunno where that came from), and been given more grief than anything else.

Yet it persists, sometimes more strongly than others, but persist it does. I don't know why. I don't know if it's a gift or an attribute of mine or what. Hell, maybe it's some alien technology mind control chip. Who knows.

All I can say is, "Thank you" to God for it.


Rozenkraai said...

i believe ego blinds us. (and self pity also blinds us.) and pride is certainly a function of ego.

and i have come to a place where i must believe and trust that, as it says somewhere in Jeremiah, only God knows the plans he has for me, plans for prosperity and not for ruin.

i have come to a place where i must find every single solitary blessing in every single solitary situation, even if that means doing the old 'well, it could be worse' dance.

i have often prayed 'i believe; help my unbelief' as did the father with the sick chid in the Gospels.

i have often yelled at God too, gotten real honest and real direct with him, because i also believe he wants to show me what and why and where and sometimes i have to have a hissy fit first simply in order to keep the lines of communication open!

if we believe that depression is anger turned inward, as it is often said, cannot the absence of hope be a kind of despair that is in itself anger turned inward? we can turn our anger at hopeless feeling situations outward--right to God. God can handle it. i believe this and i have lived it.

i know it is okay to be mad at God and to re-ignite our hope by yelling at God if we must, because God will hear us and respond to us. giving God the silent treatment only hurts ourselves. like you wrote once in TBD about giving God the finger. sometimes we have to, if only to clear the air between us. God can handle it, and he always loves us. always. always. always.

many blessings to you, and i hope you find peace in knowing you do not walk alone; we share this bumbling, stumbling walk of faith.