Splattered Paint on a Dusty Canvas

I didn’t want to get out of bed today. I wanted to stay within the warmth and safety of the folds of fabric having abstract dreams of this and that, but mostly about being back in Friday Harbor. It is fascinating how much Friday Harbor, and especially the Baileys have invaded my dreams. Staying in bed is much better than facing the reality of the day-to-day grind. The insanity has gone on for way too long, and I am about to crack.

It’s not just the most recent episode with my grandparents—my grandmother’s stroke, remarkable improvement, and then relapse into what can only be described as insanity; it’s everything. It’s is about my dad’s affair and subsequent break-up of my parents’ marriage, the horrible hospitalizations when I was 21, my struggle in youth ministry for three years (and the desperate desire to go back), my mom’s remarriage last year, the gradual decline of my grandparents, my emotional breakdown, plus the heartache from adolescence. It is a terrible and heavy load to carry around; and I am faltering.

I tried to “give it all to God” and a plethora of other Christian clichés. I’m trying to count it all joy, but the tears seem to knock that idea. I’m not denying the truth of Scripture; I’m merely questioning our use of it. These clichés are knives in my heart, because I’ve been clinging to them since last April, when it got really bad, and things have only gotten worse.

Maybe it’s the perspective on things. Right now, I care little about other people’s stories about how God brought them through difficult times and find their problems trite. I don’t really care and that’s not like me. I don’t’ want to hear stories; I want to know that God still likes me.

I know God loves me, but does He like me?

Does He care? And does He only care because He’s supposed to or because He thinks I’m interesting?

The main question I keep turning over and over in my mind is an age old one—what kind of madness is this where we are called to die and suffer to get closer to God? I’ve read THE PROBLEM OF PAIN by C.S. Lewis and WHERE IS GOD WHEN IT HURTS? by Philip Yancey and a countless amount of other books in seminary counseling classes. If Christ suffered on the cross, why do we still have so much pain? I can understand broken relationships, car accidents, financial problems, and other pain as sin runs rampant in this world.

But I don’t understand the gradual disintegration of my grandmother’s brain and body when God can call her home. I know I don’t understand His plan, and that His ways are so much harder. I’m just trying to make sense of the mess.

It reminds me of a modern art show I saw once at a local art museum in Allentown. I am all for modern art, but some of the paintings where nothing more than a bunch of paint splatters. I stared at the mess of paint and tried to make sense of the lines, the places where colors ran together, and the obscure artsy painting titles. It made absolutely no sense to me. Maybe God is like that sometimes. There’s obvious intent in His work, but I just don’t get it right now, and it’s just some paint splatters. Eventually the splatters turn into a Van Gogh. I’d like to think they turn into a Van Gogh because he’s my favorite painter, probably because he was a raving lunatic, yet brilliant and broken.

But right now I just see a bunch of splatters and it’s hard to see the big picture. I wish some white knight could just come rescue me from my life and whisk me away to a faraway land (or even Friday Harbor) where I wouldn’t have to think about this craziness.

Or maybe I should just go back to bed.

Then again, I could also go splatter some paint.

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