Yesterday’s blog piece on Failure was my attempt to wrap my head around a fellow writers statement that “Jesus failed her”. As I read through the piece, I just couldn’t get passed it. I can’t think of a time where things didn’t go my way resulting in my feeling as if Jesus somehow failed me. Even when I feel discontent with God’s answer or lack of movement in an area, I’ve never blamed Him. More often than not, I will point the finger at myself assuming that my desires were not in His will or perhaps I have been walking in disobedience. I may even remind myself that I have to be more patient because things happen in God’s timing not my own, or that His answers will always be infinitely better than my own.
I can remember being pregnant with my second, the doctor alerting me to precancerous cells found in my uterus and cervix. I listened intently at the options before me, what risks each carried for me and the pregnancy. I don’t ever remember being angry at God over the risks to my pregnancy. My husband came upon me in the bedroom crying over it, and he told me “God wouldn’t give you a baby just to take it away”. His words were sweet, but we all know that sentence isn’t true. Women lose babies. I said as much to my husband, and told him that her purpose may simply have been to save my life. I was trusting that however this was going to play out, it was part of God’s good plan. That doesn’t mean I stopped crying over it, worrying over it, praying that the Lord would protect her. Had I lost the pregnancy, I would have grieved. I just don’t recall ever feeling let down by God.
That is not to say that I haven’t had my moments where I have cried out to the Lord, because I couldn’t understand what He was doing in my life (or the lives of those I care for). I think that is an entirely different thing. I can be confused or concerned, worried or sad, and even angry with a given situation. I just don’t see an emotional response as being the same as feeling that Jesus let me down. So, as you can see, this was just a concept I couldn’t understand or agree with. When I read the piece a second time though, something else caught my attention and then I had my “a-ha moment”.
The author penned the term “midfaith crisis” and suddenly it all began to make sense. At some point, whether via a movie, television show, or happening right before our eyes, witnessed someone going through a midlife crisis. Mid LIFE crisis is a term we all know, even if we don’t understand it personally. Entertainment will portray it heavily, as the guy who cheats on his wife with a younger women… or lightly, the man who comes home from work one day with an ear pierced, a tattoo, and a motorcycle. A result of an nonacceptance of aging, desperately clinging to their youth, or attempting to accomplish those bucket list items before they are too old to do so.
When someone has a midlife crisis, we can at least have an understanding as to why they are making some crazy choices even if we don’t approve of those choices.
A mid FAITH crisis wasn’t really a term I was familiar with, or even a feeling I could understand. However, when I consider the totality of my faith walk… well, I joined the party on the late side. Maybe, I will be spared the midfaith crisis… or it’s just lingering further down the road.
As I spent more time trying to understand the concept of the midfaith crisis, I found myself softening to the author and beginning to grasp how she could feel that Jesus let her down. Sometimes our immediate knee jerk responses are more about our ownselves and perceptions than they are about the other person. Being able to apply what I understood about midlife crisis, midfaith crisis was a bit easier to work around. The more I thought about that, the more sense the whole piece made.
If I had to imagine myself as a person who worked hard all of my life, dedicated to my job and family. A person who volunteered in the community, was a good steward with my money, living a modest life and helping others. If I think of these things, and then imagine that all through my life I could never catch a break. I can see how that would bring me to the brink of crisis when I hit that half way point of my life. You wonder “will it get better?” and you may even begin to take things into your own hands to control a better outcome. You believe that you worked hard all of those younger years, full of sacrifices, so that your golden years would be easy and carefree. You worked hard, you deserved an easy retirement. Then one thing after another comes along that takes you money, your health, etc. away… and crisis strikes. You feel let down by life, you wonder why you sacrificed for nothing.
I could understand the author’s point more clearly. Imagine that all of your life you had been a faithful believer. You prayed every morning, and each evening with your kids. You were a faithful wife, who was a perfect helpmeet to your husband. You taught your children about God, tending to their hearts. Every week you were at service, never missing a Sunday. Volunteering in the church, leading studies, tithing above 10%. You heeded the call to full time ministry service or missionary work, selling your belongings and raising the funds. You put your hands and feet into kingdom work every single day. Then crisis knocks down your door. You cry out to God…. “Have I not been obedient to you? Have I not gone where you told me to go, served as you told me to serve? Have I not sacrificed with joy, followed you word, shared the gospel… all that you have asked of me?”
“Then WHY God… why this? Why now?”
Then I felt it, I could understand.
Part of the reason I couldn’t wrap my head around it from the beginning was because I still feel like I fail at following Him to the fullest. I know I could sacrifice more, give more, serve more, pray more, follow better. Which is why I lean toward the belief that I let God down, not the other way around.
But, for those who have… and we all know those people exist (even if the number is few)… that serve God, love God, obey God with every bit of their being?
I could understand that moment (however long it lasts) of being honest with God and saying, Lord… you let me down on this one.
The good news? Our God is big enough, and loving enough to handle that feeling. He can handle your midfaith crisis. He knows our hearts, because He dwells there. He knows that we love him, serve him willfully, and that sometimes the directions He will take us can be tough. He understands that we are confused, and can’t see what He is doing. He understands that we are hurt, and don’t see the good in what has happened (yet). He loves us through it.
As a parent, I would love to be able to give my children all of the desires of their heart. However, I also know that all of those desires are not good or healthy options. My 10 year old would be content with eating cake the rest of her life, my middle schooler would love for me to allow her more freedoms, and my high schooler is entering a time in her life where she teeters between childhood and adulthood. There are times when our answers to their requests are no, and they will cry or get angry. No matter the words they hurl in that moment… they know that I love them, and I know they love me. Despite that crisis mode they are in, or the hurt, or the words.
My eldest recently asked me a question, and she started it with: “I need to ask you something, and I hope you will say yes…” I knew it was going to be a weighty question, and probably one I couldn’t answer on the spot. Yet, even with those words spilling out of her mouth… I could sense hope. She had her hopes up already, even knowing that my answer would not likely be what she wants to hear.
Just as we know our children, our Father knows us. He hears the hope in our voices, He knows the desires of our heart. As I reflect on the blog piece that started the wheels in mind to travel down this road, I realized how raw and honest this woman was being. But, I was also able to see that despite her feeling that “Jesus had failed” her… she had not given up on loving Him. Her words were not as dire as I first perceived them.
Perhaps, we could all learn from this exploration to be a bit more patient before we jump to conclusions. To listen better, to read through things a few times before we jump to judgments. To take the time to process it and see situations or statements from other perspectives, so that instead of judging someone harshly… we can stop and pray for whatever situation they are dealing with. Quite often we only have part of the story, or we focus on a small detail and miss the bigger picture.
Had I allowed myself to stay hung up on her statement of being failed by Jesus, I would have missed so much more of what she was attempting to share. I would have missed her endurance, perseverance, honesty, transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability. I think we could all do well with a dose of being real and raw, with the world… with ourselves… and with our God.