Last week it was revealed to me exactly how cranky I have been lately when a fellow student reveled that he kind of thinks that is just what I always am. I’m cranky. This isn’t who I am. Sarcastic? Yes. Snarky? Probably more than I should be. Cantankerous? Often. But I wasn’t going for cranky.
How did I get here? How did I become a person with only one pair of pants — cranky pants?!
Well, I’m living thousands of miles from my husband when there is a perfectly good (some might say excellent) seminary 20 minutes from my apartment. I am lonely. It is very hard to feel at home in two places at once. This week I am at home for spring break and I can’t remember if the stuff I want is in the fridge here or the one in Berkeley. I can’t write down the right zip code without thinking for a minute. I don’t know which clothes are here and which ones are at home. I spend most of my days with my heart in one state and my body in another. When I’m in California, it is hard to really dive in to relationships because my heart is in Seattle. People there know that too. I’m permanently transient. I think I feel like Peter on Fringe. I just want to get back to my timeline.
I’m frustrated with seminary. I am learning some really good things — especially though my classes at the GTU. But I cannot escape the feeling that my seminary is largely preparing us for how the church used to be and how it is today, not for how and what it will be in the future. I am meeting good people and making good connections but by the time I feel really solid with my people there, it will be time to come home. That is a weird future to face. It makes it hard to invest my heart and energy (I’m still working on accepting impermanence).
I’ve been sick. Like, really sick. I have a chronic disease that, when it shows up, is really, really painful. It makes it hard to think. I have actually read on discussion boards that the pain can be worse than giving birth. And it happens again and again and again. On top of that, I got a cold. Such a little thing that just made it all so much worse.
Then there are the things that are totally mine. I haven’t been praying/meditating enough. This happens when I get into a bad space. I know it is the opposite of what should happen. I am sick so I don’t pray and I don’t pray so I am sick. It feeds itself. But it is really hard to get out of bed and pray when I really don’t want to get out of bed at all.
But enough about me. I am not the only one struggling through seminary or through life. And it is you I want to talk to. You who are in a bad place, you who are struggling through grad school or a difficult marriage (or are dealing with the end of one) or who haven’t slept in weeks because you have a new baby or who lost your job and can’t find a new one. You who are depressed. You who have lost someone you love. This is what I want to say.
It is okay to not be okay.
Sometimes, it just sucks. Sometimes, you don’t want to be cheered up. Sometimes you want someone to say, “Dude, that SUCKS!” I’m with you. Some days, things just suck. Ever for a privileged, over-educated white girl like me.
I’ll speak for myself and say that it is NEVER helpful to be told that there are people who would kill for the opportunities I have or there are starving people in Africa or women without rights in Chad. Those things are all correct. I am aware of them. Thank you for making my day worse by pointing out how insensitive I am to the marginalized of the world and for being totally insensitive to the fact that I am in pain. My pain is real. It is not diminished by the pain of others. It is amplified. So, thanks for that.
It is okay to be in pain, it is okay to be pissed of at the world, it is okay to cry and take a sick day to watch crappy movies or to take a baseball bat to a pillow in the privacy of your own home.
God understands your anger and your pain. God understands your rage. God gets pissed off. There’s a whole lot of angry God in the Hebrew Bible, and he has some really colorful ways of expressing his anger (don’t try this at home,kids). Jesus got annoyed with the disciples and raged at the money changers in the temple. God gets it. Give it to God.
What is not okay is taking your anger out on other people OR ON YOURSELF. If you find yourself snapping at people who were just trying to be nice (even if it was super flawed), ask a friend for help. If you find yourself trying to escape your pain by drinking or getting high or having risky sex or cutting or any other way we find to hurt ourselves, tell a friend and then find a professional. Don’t let your pain destroy you. Give it to God. Yell at God. Scream at God. Throw full glasses of whiskey at God. God can take it. God has been taking on our pain for thousands of years. Whatever you can give, God can take.
In about two weeks, Christians around the world will be observing the time in history God took on all of our crap. All of our pain, all of our brokenness, all of our dirt, all of our evil. Check out a picture of the crucifixion. That’s God, taking on all of the crap you feel right now (well, he wasn’t white, but you get my point). Channel it there. That’s what Jesus came to do. Then leave it there. Leave it at the foot of the cross. Let it go. Let the pain and anger enter into Christ’s wrists and feet, into the lashings on his back and know that you are understood. Know that your pain matters to God. Know that God takes it on willingly, and in love. Give it to God.
When it comes back, which it might (which it will), let it. Don’t shove it down into that little box in your soul where you store the things you’d like to think you’ve forgotten. Sit with it for a minute. Call a friend and let them know that it’s back. But don’t let it stick around. Let it go. Go outside and give it to the earth (that’s God’s too, God will get it). Go to church and place it at the foot of the cross. Go put it in the ocean. Give it to God. God will take care of this.
This is extra hard when you’re living in a situation that keeps bringing it back. Like, you know, being separated from your husband in the name of a higher call. But it can be done. I’m sure of it. I’ll let you know how it goes 😉