An Aspirin for Every Headache

I think fortitude is something that we christians seriously lack. And i don’t say that to merely be provocative and belligerent either. I really think that when it comes right down to the facts of life we are in no better position, possibly even in a worse position than our “ungodly” counterparts on the other side of the fence.

The reason i say this is because of the problem with pain. Countless books, lectures, sermons, inspirational posters, and Bible verses are all dedicated the issue of pain. They remind us constantly that pain exists, that the world is filled with it, and that god can protect us from it. And yet it seems that when pain rears its ugly head in our faces we seem to reel back in fear and hide in the shadows behind our picture of what God is to us.

Case in point. I have a friend who recently heard from a friend she had back in high-school. This old friend and my friend had had a falling out some years back over religious issues. Basically the other friend was going to be the perfect little girl for god. No dating, no kissing, no alcohol, church on sunday and Wednesday, everything she was going to do in her life was going to glorify god. And to her credit, from what i know of her, she kept this up for a long time. My friend said she was insane, probably from the fact that she had to constantly listen to her bemoan the fact that she could never get a boyfriend. Well when you never let physical attraction even once dictate your choice in mates and then when you do happen to land a partner you tell them you won’t kiss or hug them until you’re at the alter, what do you expect? But i digress. It seemed that the issue didn’t even phase the friend that her choice to be loyal only to god was hindering her own wishes, but she was pretty much content otherwise. She did drive my friend nuts by preaching to her every time she got the opportunity about how she wasn’t living according to god’s purpose and she would never be happy if she didn’t, inadvertently pushing my friend further and further away from wanting to be associated with people like that (e.g. every christian she knew).

And then suddenly, the friend’s mom died. I don’t know how or why, but she just upped and died one day. naturally the friend’s life was shattered. And she dropped of the map for several months after. So then the other day she calls my friend up and catches up some. Turns out now she’s living with her dad and her step-mom (he parents were divorced long before any of this by the way) and has turned to a life of drinking, cursing, and generally being a heathen (well… relatively speaking). She was even considering to go and lose her virginity for no real reason other than to do it. I laughed at first because of the hypocrisy she was displaying. I find irony like that funny no matter how tragic it is (I’m evil like that). But then as it sank in i realized something that brings me to this article now.

The girl snapped. Why? Because her mom died? Well yes, but more fundamental than that. Pain. She snapped because of the pain. granted, it was a horrible pain having your only real family just die like that, but its the same kind of pain people feel everyday all over the world. And yet she fell so far. Why? The problem with pain is that she expected it to never happen to her. and thats where we christians generally fail at life.

We normally sit on our high horses talking about the great life we have with god and how he will protect us from earthly pain. And should some pain arise in someone else’s life other than our own its simply brushed off with “well god has a plan for you.” But then it happens to us and all the rules change. Suddenly that godly way of life we were living seems to have netted us nothing. all that supposed sacrifice for god and we are left trampled under the wheels of life in the mud for all to see. Then the taunting begins. “where is your god now?” “Why did god let that happen to you?” “if there was a god he obviously hates you.” And these are just from yourself!

When we have the problem of pain, our world shatters around us. pieces falling down like glass and we stand in our broken cathedral looking up at the dark sky above and just ask “why me? why me god?” We thought up to that point we were exempt from having these blows dealt to us because we were living for god. Bad things only happen in retribution for sin, right? wrong. There was never a guarantee for safe passage through life. yes we are told god CAN protect us from pain, but that doesn’t mean he WILL. And nor should we expect him to.

We do have a guarantee from jesus himself. He guaranteed the opposite. He told us if we join him in christianity we enter a life filled with more pain than normal people. “take up your cross and follow me” isn’t just a nice thought about how we will walk with him and let him carry it for us. The cross doesn’t just symbolize the sins we have to carry, but the pain in carrying them and of life in general. We marginalize pain until it happens to us. We tell ourselves before the earthquake how exactly we will react. And when the quake hits, we panic. And this is the main difference between christians and non-christians. The non-christians have been doing drills, but we tend to stand there confidently that the building you’re in will never, never crack or crumble. And when it does our notions about the world and life and torn asunder and the world looks at us as fools.

And thats what we are if we continue to think that a life with god is a life free from pain: Fools. Its for this reason I always harp on teens and kids who want to get baptized as soon as possible because their friends are doing it and the ministers who encourage it. They don’t sit back and think about what they are doing. They are told from the get go that this is a kind of trade. “you join us and life is smooth sailing.” Its not a bargain, its you initiating yourself into a world darker than you can imagine with god there as a flashlight. You are not completely alone, but you are still on your own. people who think that the dark world isn’t really there are blind. People who think that god will shine like the sun onto that world are disillusioned. people who walk without the flashlight stumble, but at least they cant see the terrors. And people who walk with the light see everything, including the darkness.

Thats why i think that fortitude is something we generally lack. If we don’t have any fortitude and instead delude ourselves into thinking life will be peachy if we live by the rules we will end up like the friend who snapped. I know, I’ve been there myself. but having come out of it, it would have been easier, and it still would be easier, just to throw the flashlight away and hide in the shadows than to confront the beast of pain in all its gruesome glory. We need to teach others to hold to the flashlight and open their eyes and not rely on god to protect them from life, lest we lose them to the darkness as well.

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  1. #1 by Noni on March 20, 2006 - 9:45 pm

    I totally agree with you on many of the assumptions stated in this story. However, there are many Christians around the globe today that live out the true Christian life every day. Those that panic when the “earthquake” hits have not been building the strong foundation that is required for a true Christian to make it through this little adventure here on earth. I place 51% of the blame on the Church leadership; many of whom don’t even belive what they are teaching. The rest of the blame belongs with the individual; for not following the the the instructions in the book.

  2. #2 by Jennifer on April 20, 2006 - 2:56 pm

    I agree with some of the things that you said however I disagree with alot of it to. The article is based on a conversation that I had with friend when I was upset and grieving and yes I did say some of those things however they are taken out of context and were said under a great amount of stress and grief. Did I “snap”? No I didn’t snap. God is carrying me through and I have faith. My relationship with God is as strong as ever in fact it is growing because I believe that God is taking me throuh a time of purification. As far as saying that my beliefs are keeping me frrom my desires I disagree because guess what there is a guy in my life with the same standards and we are happy together. I have never forced my beliefs on anyone else and I don’t look down on people that disagree. When asked I will tell my friends my beliefs and opinions however here is the thing my beliefs are my own. I do not force them on other people because they are my own convictions. So though I have been going through a valley as it says in Psalms 23 Though aren’t with me. God has not abandoned me instead He forgives my sins picks me up off my feet dusts me off and carrys me through the hard time.

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