Monday, June 2, 2014

A Universe of Choice and Chance: How I Wound Up in the Middle East This Summer

    You're supposed to be here.
    Every day here on project, I hear this. Sometimes several times per day.
    And I think: I - I am the last person to be here right now.
    I - I am not fit, you see. Christianese phrases trigger anxiety; prayer and church, panic attacks. I'm worn out and angry, bitter and confused. Ya know, God?
    I cannot service others when all I am has become shattered glass. I cannot communicate with English-
speaking adults, much less those whose language I do not know. And I've never been able to understand children, no matter their language.
    And so I laugh at this - a bit like Sarah, I suppose. Only she was barren in body; I feel barren in soul.
    Except I am here.
    You're supposed to be here.
    You know, I chose to be here. I wanted to be here, I've wanted to come for the last four years, but this winter I had my breakdown and said screw the application; I'm not fit. I give up.
     As I cried (I cried pretty much every day of Winter Break) and hugged my arms to my chest (because unfortunately you can't hug minds - hey! God! Wanna work on that? Just kidding), I told my sister I was giving up.
    And then my sister was like: "No, you're should apply. I'll help you."
    And I was like, hello? I'm mentally crushed right now. I can't think or feel. Ain't no way someone like me should travel with other Christians for a cultural exchange/service project in the Middle East.
    I may also have mentioned something about how "I prayed about it and God didn't give me any clear direction."
    Sister: "Maybe God wants us to choose." (Well, she said something along those lines).
    So, I obeyed my sister. Maybe I also, somewhere, still wanted to go, and I realized that my mind wasn't the most trustworthy at the moment.
    And when I started crawling out of the depression, I found out I'd been accepted to come, and I was actually excited (until the next panic attack over fundraising, ahem. Oops).
    Yes, you see, I chose to come here.
    And yet: I am supposed to be here as well? It seems a contradiction.
    Truth to be told, I'm not much a believer in fate. Words like "supposed" make me nervous, in this universe of choice and chance.
    How do you know I'm "supposed" to be anywhere? Is that your way of making us feel important? accuses my cynical mind.
    Then, as I'm musing, half-hating myself for my cynicism, half smug (to be disgustingly honest), I'm reminded of something a friend told me freshman year, something I've adopted as a mantra of sort while facing decisions:
    Who are you to think you can mess up God's plan for you?
    Okay. So I have anxiety issues and pride problems. So my carefully constructed faith got demolished and I'm whiplashed from wrestling with it.
    So we're tired. So we've been told we're outsiders, that we have no place doing xyz, whatever. So we've lost.
    So you're freaking enraged, so you're so humiliated you want to die. So you're a hollow can, so you screwed up, real, real bad.
    So you had to burn everything. So you fled, so you stayed, and you feel guilty and isolated either way.
    First things first: It's okay. Here's a hug or a smile if you're not into hugs. But if you are, here's both.
    I'd hesitate to call your situation good, and it's sure not comfortable, but you know what? It's okay.
    Second: Maybe we could dare to believe that God's plan for us (while I don't believe He ever wants evil to happen, either to us or by us) cannot be ruined, because He can bring good out of true evil.
     "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." - Genesis 50:20
    God wants us all abundantly alive, all of us.
    Maybe when I came here, my sister guided me towards choosing life when I couldn't even discern.
    Maybe, for our next step, we can all choose whatever will bring life, and if you're too weak to choose, talk to someone who can help (I'm available).
    Life. For you, for me. Life to share. Maybe that's God's plan. Maybe that's what "supposed" means.
    It's paradoxical, sure, and no, I've not reached the bottom of this mystery. Oh well. Wasn't going to happen in one blog post or twenty, probably (since as far as I know, theologians have been reconciling free will and the sovereignty of God for millennia).
    For myself, I hope that maybe, in this universe of choice and chance, resurrection will occur even in shattered glass.
    Because we're supposed to be alive. 
    We're supposed to be here.


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