I wish I had a conclusion for this post, but this is a piece with no tidy ending. There is no bow to this poorly bundled package of questions. I am merely in a season of deconstruction — appropriate for the fall, a season where the foliage is my soul’s mirror.
What if failure is merely mercy? Perhaps that disaster I could have avoided is the Divine sparing me a disaster of far greater magnitude, sparing me several more days, months, or years of living through a perpetual hell.
By hell, I’m not referring to a final destination, but rather the immanent state of rejecting the effects of participating in the loving crucible of Reality — or God. Hell, the lack of God’s presence, seems like it cannot be merely a destination, but also must be a chosen state of being. As a destination, it seems like somewhere one is granted to reside forever as they have chosen to remain in the state, thus God is merely granting what this person desires most. I digress.
What if failure is not a megaphone as C.S. Lewis stated, but rather cold water for our parched soul? What if the pain and agony is the very Life we have been swatting away as it looked like inconvenience or maybe even ludicrousness? Again, I have no answer, but perhaps what we see as hitting rock bottom is actually the first drops of the experience of God that our soul has gotten in far too long and the pain we feel is the loss that we have ignored or cast aside finally catching up with us.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t allowed myself often to experience failure. I certainly haven’t allowed myself to experience a kind of failure that cuts away at my mask. Until recently. And I am strongly led to believe there is a distinct correlation between where I have been in the past few months and this hitting rock bottom.
As I believe I’ve stated previously, I’m a Two according to the Enneagram. Being a male and a Two is all sorts of confusing. Basically, the Two embodies what has traditionally been associated with maternal energy. The Two is often labelled the “Helper.” Just this word alone brought to mind the description of Eve in Genesis 2 and I had a pretty strong negative reaction when I was first confronted with the possibility of my dominant type.
Delving into this result, I’ve found it true that I derive value in how I help or serve — or how I think I’m helping or serving — others. Depending on my own emotional, mental, and spiritual health, I may be closer to that goal some days than others. Thus, hitting rock bottom for me had to be relational. Getting a DUI — now more than five years ago — was a wake up call for sure, but it wasn’t rock bottom.
I think I hit the bottom with the crash of a meteor. And I tried picking up the shards like every other time. Only this time I felt the searing pain of the shards cutting my hands like never before. I tried to push through the pain and reassemble myself before I could endure the shame of someone seeing me in my disassembled and destroyed underside self. I failed in this attempt.
I have raged at God. Have I raged. Wow. God has felt nearer than ever before, but never farther, even within the same day. For a few days I even gave up on God. And I think I might’ve found something.
What if our incessant personification of God isn’t bringing us closer, but rather drawing us further away? Put another way, what if our trying to analyze, understand, and know God is taking us away from the experience of God? After all, is understanding God or is experiencing God the purpose?
As was pointed out to me today, we cannot simultaneous contemplate a thing and enjoy or experience it. Our brains are not wired this way. Thus, all the time spent trying to wrap my brain around God — really it is shrinking God to the confines of my understanding and imagination — is taking away from the true means of knowing God which is through relationship, or just being, with God.
And seriously, can we please dispense with solely masculine pronouns for God? This question should be self-explanatory in 2017. You do what you want, but I seriously find this limitation to be personally troublesome and severely unhelpful.
What if failure is mercy? What if success is also mercy?
What if the incarnation is so much bigger than a baby, a manger, Mary, Joseph, a cross, and the resurrection? How could it be? I’m not sure I can fathom, but what if Jesus was showing us both the true flow of life in resurrection, as well as the death of the great cosmic judge?
What if grace and mercy are utterly incomprehensible? And forgiveness? What about reconciliation? It is as if there was never a doubt or a second’s hesitation in God’s mind that the alchemy of good and evil we call people would be shown mercy beginning to end and all would be forgiven, but God would take a step further to condescend even to death on a cross and both satisfy and deny cosmic justice for the sake of reconciling with the beloved — you, me, us.