Saturday, January 08, 2005

I'm Not God

Are tsunamis all relative? I think of an earthquake 3,000 miles away that ends up killing God only knows how many people and devastating even more people's lives. Then I get home and find out a former client who is a lawyer and a member of my Church (I won't get into the "I said/he said" details....) turned in a complaint about me to the State Registrar of Contractors that could potentially shut down my livelihood. My father in law falls down and hurts his leg and it sends a tidal wave of inconveniences and changes of schedules and sleepless nights over our family life. The cat pukes in the hall and I step in it in the dark. And.... well, the daily litany of life's smaller injustices and speed bumps. Does seeing a picture of miles of wrecked coastline change my life? Well, no, the cat puke still stinks and I have to wash my feet and clean the floor. It doesn't heal my father in law's swollen leg or make him able to walk, or make him able to stand steadily and hit the toilet when he pee's. The Red Cross isn't going to help me pay off the two grand the lawyer wants to stop harassing me. I can intellectually see the difference between my situation and the coastal cities of India. I can feel compassion for their wretched lives and cumulative grief beyond imagination. But, in the end, when I open my eyes this is where I am, in my house, with my petty problems that don't go away because someone else has bigger ones ten thousand miles away. I suppose I should and could thank God my problems aren't bigger than they are. But most of the time I'm so wrapped up in my own stuff that I don't think about that. The tsunami is real, the deaths are real, for certain. But the other reality is, it is pictures in a lighted box in my living room. My father in law laying on the floor of his bathroom isn't. We have to pick him up and clean the walls and floors of the bathroom and change his clothes.

It is amazing to me how quickly we can feel compassion when watching the news and then
just as quickly lose it when something happens, even something like the phone ringing or
dinner being ready or checking my email.

I suppose that if we were able to feel the accumulated totality of the pain of all the people that we hear about in every newscast about every murder, death, loss and injustice ever told about and never be able to slough it off or forget about it, we'd be crushed beneath it all.

Perhaps that is why Isaiah said He "bore our griefs" and was "crushed for our iniquities".
He took on the totality of the burden of the sins and griefs of what it means to be human in a fallen world and never laid that down or lost it or forgot it.

My reaction when I step in cat puke alone should let me know I'm not God. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe once these problems are nothing but a part of your past and have come to some resolution, whether or not in your favor, you'll step in cat puke, wrinkle your nose, shrug, notice that a smell is just a smell and that your foot has touched a lot of dirty things, and clean it up. I imagine we're being trained to stop thinking, "why me?" and to notice that we're not alone, even with cat puke under our feet. Neither are the tsunami victims alone after 200,000 people just died around them. And it's a (remote) possibility that I'm not alone when no one will hang out with me. I'm just curious if being alone is as terrifying a thought to everyone else as it is to me. Not to say I don't enjoy a lot of time alone. But to be entirely alone is frightening. I guess it's easy to get confused about.

I by no means am intentionally belittling you or your struggles, but it's just funny to think that we, any of us, can catch ourselves becoming so incredibly bothered by touching an anonymous non-fatal substance, such as cat puke, and being required to wipe it up with a rag and maybe having to use some sort of disinfectant.

By the way, I hope to visit sometime soon. And maybe talk. We didn't do much of that last time.

-Adam Nixon