Confessions of a Theological Brat:
Have you ever watched The Price is Right? Well, if you haven’t there is this game called “Plinko” where contestants drop discs into a vertical maze of pegs, hoping their disc will drop into a slot labelled with a high monetary reward.
I often feel like my life is a Plinko game with God. I know he has abundant and life-giving blessings for all his people, and that he wants to bestow them like a parent at Christmas–witnessing our joy and gratitude. I do not believe in Retribution Theology, which claims we have a God of karma, one who hurts us when we do immoral things and rewards us when we do the right ones.
I had a mother who suffered from cancer for five years, a wonderful person whose life was committed to God and her community. What I learned is that there are many kinds of blessings and tragedies in this world, and all people, no matter their moral compass, seem to experience both. It is not my own goodness that blesses me, but God’s.
Yet, it often feels as though the rhyme and reason of distribution are much like the Plinko game. God rains his blessings down on us, as children and disciples, and they plink to the ground in every which way. I believe that God blesses me but where I am blessed is another issue.
Right now I am unemployed, which is a hard position to be in. I feel useless, incompetent, undervalued and invaluable. Yet, my volunteer life, my friendships and my time of discernment seem to be experiencing incredible blessings. It is as though the one slot I wish for blessings has received nothing, but everything else has an abundance.
Since my mother’s illness I don’t struggle with why bad things happen to good people, God and I have pretty well worked that out. Not to say I do not lament or express intense anger at God when it happens–that’s what working it our looks like for me. What I can’t handle is when someone is blessed in every area except the one they desire the most. For example, a family who is so blessed, but simply desires a child (be it through child birth or adoption).
Proverbs 13:12 is a favourite of mine, it says:
A hope deferred make the heart sick; but a longing filled is a tree of life.
My heart is sick, and it effects me each day. I feel similar to the way I felt when I was in my time of mourning: lethargic, exhausted, bored, invaluable, depressed…. It feels as though God is playing some cruel joke on me as I am blessed, as my new ministry initiative receives funds, as new and old relationships are strengthened, as the Spirit is at work within my relationship with my husband. It hurts because I would rather hate God and feel completely rejected than feel as though what I desire doesn’t matter. The Scriptures say that God delights in fulfilling our desires, that God is parental figure who will bless his/her children in accordance with that relationship.
Yet, I got a pony instead of a tiara.
I realize this may make me sound bratty, but we cannot invalidate the suffering and desires of others. That is how I feel right now. I feel as though God has left it all up to luck, that I have no control and though God is ultimately in control that he/she is not exercising it. When I am so keenly aware that there is not security in my own self, I want to believe in something, someone, who will care for me–who will listen and bless me accordingly. I do not want to believe in the God of Plinko, but the God of the Tree of Life.
Hopefully, in the coming months, I will see the image of the God who is sustainer, dreamer and parent. I recognize that, though I may not see or feel that person today, they are there. It is just difficult for a sick heart to see them.