Friday, March 14, 2008

A Wonderful Plan For Your Life

Anybody who's ever been targeted by an enthusiastic Campus Crusader has seen the ubiquitous Four Spiritual Laws pamphlet, and you could probably find one in the information rack of most fundamentalist Christian churches. I grew up with it, and while I couldn't tell you Laws 2-4 any more, the first one has been echoing in my head today:

"God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life."

I've heard all the metaphors, about how God is like a parent who disciplines us when we need direction, how he is the potter and we are the clay, how he is the fire that burns away our chaff and dross and sticks, leaving good grain and silver and gold.

I start to wonder, though, if this really is part of a grand divine plan, or if it's just a way for people to tell themselves that bad experiences and tragedy actually mean something. It's a practical response -- if you're looking for the lesson in the trials, you're more likely to find it, and the idea that God is sending the trial (and thus in control of it) makes it a little more palatable.

Some days, I'd just like a break from the fire. The fire, in whatever form it takes -- a dreary, rainy day; a long string of sleepless nights with a fretful mind that can't rest; the machine-gun persistence of an autistic child's questions; the sullen glare of an 8-year-old who's practicing for her teen years; damaged friendships, distance growing between loved ones, buried heartaches and hurts. Nothing earth-shattering, just the everyday slings and arrows that batter and bruise and prick the soul, until the thousand tiny collisions leave me gasping for breath.

I am tired of trying to find the little mental twist that will make it all come together in one coherent shining picture, like a Magic Eye stereogram made up of the day's worries and pains. I have grown weary of the search for deeper meanings, and of the relentless anxious energy of those who throw themselves time and again at the too-high bar of holiness.

It is easier, some days, to think that perhaps this is just how life is now and then. Today, I think I would rather curl up with a warm blanket, a book, and a bit of chocolate -- to listen to the rain, let my mind drift away from my aching heart, and release myself from the burden of turning it into a teachable moment. Days like today, a little bit of rest sounds vastly preferable to another round of the celestial chess game. This little pawn is going to take a few hours off, and the grand plan will just have to get along without her for the afternoon.

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