The fear based thought>emotion overreaction cycle has been going on as long as I can remember. I have been afraid of what I can't see or control all my life. Because it was those things that would take me out. I blamed this cycle for my misery, I blamed my parents for "making me this way" and at the top of the blame pile was God. I thought he waas supposed to protect me since I couldn't protect myself. It was the only thing that made sense to me.
When I look back on my childhood, I see the brokenness of the world attacking me and I was defenseless. I thought God would have protected me if I was worthy. It was the only thing that made sense to me. I had learned enough about God's power to determine that he could do anything, so the fact that I didn't see him protecting me could only mean one thing. It meant I didn't make the cut. It meant that I didn't measure up so God set me aside. And I was angry about that. Why would he put me on this earth only to keep me separate, isolated, broken? Why would he heal the people in the Bible who asked him but not me?
I concluded that everything that hurt was because God had abandoned me. I held onto this belief through the celebrations and failures of my adult life: running a business, getting sober, a devastating heartbreak, meeting my husband, taking care of my mom as she died of cancer, answering God's call to follow Jesus, losing both my parents, getting married and several moves. All of which had painful moments that I knew were more painful for me than for normal people. Drinking provided the relief that nothing else could, and became my best friend until it started destroying my life.
In the rooms of recovery, I started to sense the notion that my pain had a purpose. I was so hopeful that my problems were all because I was an alcoholic because that would mean I had a solution. I would figure out a way to be happy despite God's abandonment. And working the program to the best of my ability did work for awhile and through difficult times. The emotional pain had subsided a bit and I wasn't thinking about being God's outcast. Things were going pretty well. I started taking drugs for depression and anxiety. I was enjoying myself a lot more.
But there was still a nagging weight on me, there were thoughts and feelings I had that just didn't fit into the framework of my recovery program. I started having severe depression episodes and was having trouble managing relationships and my career. I would pray, hoping this time he would change his mind and help me. It was maddening-I was reading the Bible, learning about God and his infinite well of patience, second chances, and unconditional love. But I was not experiencing that in my life.
In a deep depression hole, during COVID, and moving far away from where I had been for 20 years, I cried out one more time, and this time I heard something. He told me to read a specific book in the Bible. I read it. And then he told me to read another one. I read that. I was so excited to have directions, finally. What I learned is that I didn't know how to interpret my childhood and i needed to listen to God. I learned that I hadn't really been praying-I'd been mocking God for his treatment of me, renewing my anger and frustration through venting instead of humbly asking. I never really asked anything. I just spewed. There is a huge difference between "This really hurts, God, I am scared, please help me", and "See? Look at even more proof that you don't love me-you're just playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse before it kills and eats it. Why do you treat me this way?" I'm not quite sure if he really showed me this about my prayer life, but it makes sense. How can my heart be ready to move, to change, to be more open to God if I am angry in my heart? How can I open myself up to someone who has betrayed me? I had to somehow get from feeling abandoned and betrayed to being trusting and open to him. I couldn't do that unless my view of God's participation in my life changed. Thinking that maybe my perception was off was the first step in that direction.
And as the shift in my perception becan to get traction, I could open myself up a little more to a different picture of it. it is continuously changing and becoming more in focus. How I see it now is that my experience can be used to help others. Not quite excited about suffering being a huge part of my reason for being but its better than my suffering having no purpose at all. And since I was given a heart for the suffering of others, I have found that my suffering is actually so that others might not have to suffer as much. I am selfish in that I whine about it still, but now I don't feel abandoned-I feel the opposite. I feel like part of the team. I feel like I have a noble cause. I feel specially chosen. All of these things give me a foundation to return to, a reminder when I am feeling sorry for myself.
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." John 9:1-3