Life is like an Onion
What happens when radical, amazing determination are put to the test? Most likely chaos. I found out first hand in my confused, runaway mentality. As a foolhardy, immortal youth, I ran, ready to take on the galaxy.
My story is officially vulnerable, like a soap opera, whose viewers are addicted to the outrageous acts of deceit, pride, humility, cheating, lying, immorality, integrity, romance, servants and kings. There’s not much to miss. Not everything develops in one scene. Even when a scene climaxes, not everything shines brightly. Something has to remain unresolved that reeks of dark mystery, keeping the wonder of what will happen to sail on.
That’s life. The plot is always thickening.
I grew up believing in God. I slept with my Bible right above my head. I believed God was there to provide all my needs which I presented to him daily, in fairy-tale-type requests. “Dear God, if you make my doll come alive, then I’ll believe in you.” He never answered that one. So be it. In fact, I can’t recall any answered prayer during that time in my childhood. Still, I persevered and completed the catechism necessary to become a member of the church.
Then, death entered. God failed me. He didn’t fulfil his part of the bargain. He left me vulnerable and betrayed.
That’s why I began to hate God—and particularly Christians because it was their God. Death made its mark and left life in question. The night my mother died, I heard a Christian say, “It must have been God’s will.” If you were standing near me, you would have felt the heat of wrath emanating from my body.
A few short years brought many layers of death. First it was a baby I looked after; then the child I cared for who had a brain haemorrhage, then the death of a young mother with cancer, then the brutal murder of my mother, then an aspiring young doctor full of dreams, and finally, my high school friend Mike, killed instantly by a drunk driver while I and other friends were in his van. Layer upon layer of death. God was striking out at me. The Almighty was showing off his super-powers. The night Mike died I felt physically abused by God, who battered me against the walls of the van as it somersaulted over the turf. And then God spit me out on the dirt.
The impossible wanted to expose itself, waiting for the right moment to swoop in and save the day… God is a dramatist and lets the plot thicken, keeping the wonder of what will happen next sailing on.
A few years after Mike’s death, I sat at a dinner table high in the Himalayas with the pleasant taste of lemon pie in my mouth, listening to Psalm 139 being read. It told me there was no place I could run where God would not find me. (Mind you, I only heard it because I opted to stay for dessert.) It’s impossible to explain how that Psalm spoke to me, equally hard to explain how that evening, as I read the first verse of the bible (“In the beginning God… God…) followed by the book of Genesis, brought home the recognition that Jesus truly is God. And my spirit agreed. Why did I, at 15, persevere and complete catechism… why did I do that? Tradition? Frustrated, I dug my heels in deeper, added extra perseverance and gusto… I started thinking for myself. Otherwise… the next paragraph may never have happened. God did finally swoop in.
My shield was pierced, a portal was opened, and the light that filled me brought bottomless joy. God. How does one explain the impossible? I can’t.
I recognized the irony of my plight. I had been searching for God, not Jesus. The name of Jesus had always left a bad taste in my mouth. It was like playing hide and seek. I was hiding while he was seeking, always.
My experience with death brought pain, but also depth to my life. Linked memories. “In the beginning… God” —truth shone like the morning sun. Its wholeness and richness clothed my life. I understood. “Wow!” I gasped! “A miracle!” In my previous blog I told the truth about my exit from the United States; one very thin layer within the whys. Writing in the short breath of blog what’s taken years, even a life-time to work out, just can’t be done. No one can explain miracles.
We are rich and complex and layered. Telling my story makes me officially vulnerable. Like peeling back an onion, the process can make you cry — there’s more and more and more. Pain and joy mixed together. You may have thought, she left to do good things. And maybe, she did them. But her whys have a history. I did persevere… but de-toured from tradition, catechism and church, because Jesus, was just not there.
Before I left for India, I went to my pastor to make things right. I told him, “I joined the church, but I don’t believe Jesus is God, I don’t think the Bible is God’s word, and I don’t want to be a Christian. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to drop out of the church.” He gave me a soothing, well-practiced, established smile, and said with a forked tongue, “You don’t need to drop out. That’s the way we all feel.” End of conversation. So, I wasn’t a hypocrite after all. I was given a guilt-free pass.
When my daughter was engaged, she had dozens of journals where she penned her thoughts—past loves included. She read to her fiancé everything she’d written. Nothing left out. She gave him the journal and said, “We can burn this together.” He said, “No, it’s your story. You can’t just get rid of your story just because you don’t like it or find it embarrassing. It’s your story and therefore, it is valuable and therefore we keep it. Every single bit of it. And we own it because it’s your story.”
It’s guaranteed someone will be offended by what I write. People rarely agree; points of view differ. Even participants of the same event remember it differently. But I’ll own my past. Every laugh, every tear, each embrace, every special memory.
Although the name of Jesus had once left a sour taste in my mouth, the night Jesus’ name became sweet to me was the night I ate lemon pie. And lemon pie is my absolute favourite —our dramatist God also has a sense of humour.
Dear God, life has intricate layers —veins connect to the heart… one big game of connecting the dots. Love the Lord with all our heart… science is horribly mis-informed about the hearts function; yes, it pumps blood but it also loves… life is in the blood… the blood of Jesus is the full payment. Guilt free passes can’t be man-made. Dig deep, hide and seek… there’s more than what just meets the eye.
Life is like an onion; Dear God, I think you had a good idea.
Prayer Dear Lord