Post Sucks, Please Read Anyway

Disclaimer : After re-reading this post, I have discovered that it follows no discernible pattern, and my thoughts are clearly wandering with as much direction as a broken compass. It is, as Voltaire would say, crappy writing. But I am lazy, so instead of scrapping it or re-writing it, I am going to give this post headers to give it some semblance of order. Thank you for your continued tolerance.

 Part One – In which I talk about the I.R.S.

 Let me give you a snapshot of my financial life.

My wife and I struggle, financially, throughout the year. Some of this is because we have poor spending habits. Some of this is because we have to work entry-level jobs. And a big part of it is that, well, the family and I are used to thinking of ourselves as poor people – so when extra money comes in, we spend it on things we need or want, because we don’t know when we’ll have that kind of money again. That means I get three awesome moments every year. Two months out of the year give me an extra paycheck, and then, I get my income tax refund. I live for my income tax refund. If I can’t buy a present for someone during Christmas time, I’ll often buy it for them with my refund. In fact, I do this so often I’ve started referring to this time of year as “Taxmass”. It’s also when I do vital things, like buying new tires for my truck, that I can’t afford to do during the rest of the year because the one-time expenditure is just too much. Some years, I need that refund to come on a certain day, because I have unexpected expenses that tend to come up early in the year. This year, for instance, I had a sudden move from a house I shared with my former roommates, to the new place that Brandi wrote about here. That move cost me a TON of money, and I’m looking to use some of my refund money to catch up from the pretty bad spot I’m in.

So yeah, I’m pretty pissed that the IRS has delayed my refund.

"DAN SMASH!!!!"

Usually, stress like this does one of two things to me. It either a) causes me to run to the bathroom immediately, or b) jump over something in my way, then run to the bathroom immediately. It’s my body’s most predictable response to stress of any kind, but especially the stress that comes from worrying about whether or not I can pay my bills.

"POTTYpottypottypottypottypottyPOTTY!!!"

Part Two – In which I (sort of) tie Part One back to God, which is ostensibly what this blog is about. 

Not to keep drawing attention to it, but if you made it through this post then you know that it appears that God has taken care of that particular problem for me. Also, worry tends to make my premature ventricular contractions kick into high gear. Still haven’t had one since the conference I referenced in the above-linked post.

Now, I don’t want to rehash the story. You’ve read it or you haven’t. It’s gross and goofy, but it’s my little miracle story. Thing is, now that I’m waiting for my income tax refund to come in (to keep, amongst other things, my cell phone from being turned off), and I’m doing all the things I normally do when I’m nervous – like obsessively checking my bank website once an hour to see if the money has magically appeared – and my newfound healing is being put to the test, something is occurring to me.

Holy shit, God really healed me.

“Surely you knew this,” you might be saying. “Your previous post is all about God healing you. Surely this is not a new thought to you.” 

“No, and don’t call me Shirley.”

And yeah, I kinda knew it. And two weeks without a PVC, or an attack of IBS, is pretty cool. But going through stress like I’ve had since yesterday morning, when I saw I didn’t have the money I expected in my account, and not having stomach cramps is. . . is a fucking miracle.

Pardon my French.

Wait. Are we saying “pardon my freedom” now?

Part Three – In which my miraculous healing makes me type-vomit random thoughts onto this blog. 

So now I have to face God in a new way. I have to admit that it is very clear that God wanted to get my attention in a way that would have long-lasting consequences for me. I don’t know why he decided to do that – I’d already decided I wanted to be a pastor, and I’ve been pursuing that goal for a couple of months, in the way that one can pursue pastorship in a couple of months – so his previous works had already gotten my attention. Why, then, the gross li’l miracle?

That’s the scariest part of finally leaving atheism behind, I think. When bad things happen to someone who doesn’t believe in God, it doesn’t create a huge philosophical quandary.

Question – Why do bad things happen?

Answer – Because.

Done.

In a universe created by a God who clearly exhibits his love for people, this question takes on a lot more meaning. If God doing good things for us is a sign of his love, does that conversely mean that God does bad things to us as a sign of his hatred? Or displeasure? Judgment? The Old Testament seems to imply that the answer is yes, absolutely, you have tremendously pissed-off God and now you are being smited. Smitten? That word always gets me. Anyway, the old answer definitely seems to be that when bad things happen, it is because God is expressing his displeasure

This is God, expressing His divine wrath through Stephenie Meyer. Whatever we did, DON’T DO IT AGAIN.

That idea seems to be losing some steam now, possibly because of the onslaught of very reasonable questions that have been used to counter it. When a young child dies in a horrid way, how did that child so earn the wrath of God? Did their parents do something that offended God so much that he had to punch them below the belt?

I have to tell you – having been very, very recently healed by God for whatever reason, I don’t see the being that healed me as being capable of that kind of arbitrary cruelty. But the Bible says that’s his M.O.

So. . . what do I believe? My heart, that tells me that God is loving and kind? Or the Old Testament, that says in very clear terms that God will crush me for disobedience? Cake, or death?

Kudos to you, if you got that reference.

I wish I could follow this random musing with an answer, but honestly, guys, I don’t have one. God healed me. God loves me. My heart speaks to me more loudly than the Bible does, I’ll tell you that in the spirit of honesty. And when the Bible does speak to me, it does so by speaking to my heart. I’ll read a passage, and I’ll feel this . . . kinda. . . warm resonance in my chest. Maybe I’ll put the Bible down, lean back in my chair, and just sit there with a “wow” feeling for a few minutes.

Part Four – In which the type-vomited contents of the author’s mind start to veer into controversial, possibly heretical, territory. 

I’ll be honest, again – if I read something that doesn’t give me that feeling, I’m less likely to take it to heart. My favorite apostle, Paul, said a bunch of stuff that left me feeling basically nothing. Women shouldn’t talk in church? Nah. Men should cut their hair short, while women should leave their hair long? Thanks, Paul. . . but I’m not reading this for fashion tips. Homosexuals won’t be accepted into the kingdomof God? That seems rather arbitrary, doesn’t it? I mean, Paul gives the churches in Corintha list of the people who cannot inherit the kingdom, and he includes homosexuals – but doesn’t mention murderers? Until God speaks to my heart, I’m gonna be “family friendly” and assume that Paul just didn’t like gay people. After all, if anything that Paul says can be attributed to being relevant only to first-century Palestine, I think it shows us that we have to ask that question about everything a human writer says.

"Do you not know that men without awesome, ZZ Top beards will ALSO not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven? Nah, I'm just kidding guys. OR AM I?!?!"

As my wife often says, “If I read something in the Bible, and it’s not printed in red, I take it with a grain of salt.”

Don't let her sweet appearance fool you - she's a firecracker, that one.

Part Five – In which the author attempts to end this fiasco gracefully.

I guess all of this is to say, belief in God is hard. Belief in God after God has shown himself to you, in a pretty no-shit-this-happened sort of way, isn’t much easier. For me, it seems to take all sorts of clichéd questions and make them immediately relevant. Life was easier (mentally, anyway) when I thought that maybe there was no big, spiritual power to take into account. Not because I didn’t want to be held accountable for my actions, but because there is no struggle to find meaning in a meaningless universe.

Has anyone else had to struggle like this, after finding their faith in God being confirmed? Am I the only one to see the cloud behind my silver lining? Or am I simply just being gloomy because my tax refund never wants to arrive? I’d love to hear from you. 

In fact, considering the poor quality of this post, I need to hear from someone – anyone – who can save this blog from itself.

Even an internet commenter.

"Help me, Wang4Higher69, you're my only hope!"

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About Daniel Mitchell

50% of "What the Faith?!?!", a blog about two skeptics who turned to God for no apparent reason. View all posts by Daniel Mitchell

12 responses to “Post Sucks, Please Read Anyway

  • DB Beem

    Hey Dan:

    Appreciate the random thoughts. It’s the nature of grace. I think that my life and the ideas need to be clear and coherent, but instead God reminds me that even in the mess and even among my random thoughts that He is there.

    Totally understand the tension of living in confusing world that sometimes sucks, and yet having an abiding faith in a God who loves and cares for me. Sometimes this world rubs me the wrong way and this causes me to question and even become angry with God. I have come to realize that being able to express my doubts and fears to Him, is an important part of what it means for me to follow Him. He can still meet me in this place, and that is a very wonderful thought.

    BTW: Love the story of how God healed your IBS and your PVC. Keep sharing!

    Blessings,

    Darren

    • Daniel Mitchell

      The tension, I must admit, is somewhat new to me. Before I was convinced about God, and about Jesus, I could blow off questions like the ones that are driving me nuts. Now I have to confront them, and yeah, it’s messy. 🙂

      Thanks for your support! I’ll keep sharing when I have more stories to tell. If you haven’t read the post my wife Brandi wrote about our house (it’s called Story Time) you might want to check that out. God has been VERY active in our lives this year.

  • Forty Ounce

    I’m liking this after just reading the title and disclaimer. okay I’ll go read the whole thing now. btw, your wife is hot. well done.

  • visitingmissouri

    Thank you very much for the head’s up. I read points 3 and 4 and really liked them (they made me follow your blog). I hope you’re not offended by me not being interested in your IRS adventures, but all the more in your journey reading the bible. Let me follow you in the latter 🙂

  • Peter Benedict

    First: In the spirit of complete transparency that seems normalish here, I continue to wonder if/when IBS strikes back. Healing makes me far more skeptical than usual, despite the fact that A) I’ve experienced honest-to-God healing, and B) so have tons of people I love.

    Second: Theological wrestling is central to some of us. If you can kick back and love God and believe He’s good, sweet. If thoughts like “Hey, WTF is up with Africa being screwed and jerks doing well and good people suffering” keep popping up, it’s probably a good indication you’ve got some rasslin’ to do.

    I wish you the best with that. My own WWFing has put me in some medium heretical territory (open theism, affirming theology, et cetera), but the end result is that I love God whole-heartedly, I believe completely in His goodness and love, and I practice it pretty freely. I hope your ongoing search leads you to a similar outcome, even if it looks completely different in its final incarnation. Unless you become Calvinist, in which case you suck…

    …kidding! I have friends who are Calvinist…

    …but their theology sucks! <–or not! HA!

  • Daniel Mitchell

    To address your first point, I am comfortable with the idea that God might have temporarily removed my IBS and PVC’s. If either one of them went away for a period of time and then came back, that could be coincidence. But now it’s been a solid two weeks without either thing, and I am convinced that is happening because of God’s intervention. Two weeks without either is too long to be coincidental. Maybe they’ll come back, and if they do, it doesn’t mean that God loves me less. I kid you not – I have NEVER gone this long without IBS attacks without first heavily medication myself. Just. . . never happened. And I’ve done all the things that bring them on in these past two weeks. If it were something I was doing, I assure you, I would have undone it by now. So while I wouldn’t consider the return of IBS to be evidence that God did NOT heal me, I may let you know if a considerable amount of time passes and I’m STILL producing waste in a manner consistent with normal human beings. Because I’m sure that whatever day I send you that information, it’ll be the day that you’re thinking, “Man. . . if ONLY Dan would updated me about his poo situation.” People think that, right?

    To address your second point, I’ve always been a guy who wrestles with tough questions. I was on the debate team in high school, and like Dave, I was the atheist guy who challenged all the Xtians to a forensic fight to the death. And I’ve always had a love of “mental mastication,” that is, ideas I can chew on for a long time. I think the difference between those experiences, and what I’m going through now, is that this particular rassling’ match seems to have a lot more relevance in my life than other ones have had. Part of that is purely theological (and for the record, my love of history tells me that Calvinism creates problems, so I’ll likely stay away) but part of it is also social. The Bible has been blatantly used, in the past, to support things that are clearly wrong, like slavery or social stratification and “divine right”. With issues facing the modern Christan (homosexuality comes to mind), I am often forced to wonder if we don’t have a responsbility to challenge the preconceived notions we have that are either a) seemingly based on, or b) seemingly supported by the Bible.

    • Brandi Mitchell

      With the intention of not offending every single one of our readers to my opinions on this topic (which are passionate, easily stirred and . . probably flat out heretical (or just plain offensive, whatever)) I’ll avoid the second point.

      I WOULD however like to point out that there has been two recurring jokes in my marriage. Neither are in good taste. you have been warned.

      Still here?

      Ok. don’t say I didn’t warn you.

      1) due to the frequent (and often liquid consistency) of his “waste processing” it has often been joked in my house that he “has a colon so clean you could eat off it”

      and 2) by far the more important one in this context, we frequently would joke that if he ever didn’t poop for three days in a row (with or without the Imodium BadAss in his system) that’s how we would know he was dead. The joke was we’d not even notice having died until it occurred to one or the other of us that he hadn’t pooped and the reaction would be “*narrows eyes* waitaminute. . . . .”

      So this two weeks is really something.

      Or, alternately we’re dead. . . .which COULD explain the blog traffic.

      • Peter Benedict

        The Internet was made for these kinds of discussions, right? 😉

        I’m interested in your take on the second point. I don’t mind heresy at all, and if someone has a problem with where you are, that’s their problem, right?

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