You may remember that, about a month ago, I challenged God.

Why should I trust you? You let all these horrible things happen to me, even though you claim that you love me. What gives? If I really can trust you, you're going to have to prove it. You have until my birthday.

Guess what? He took me up on it. :)

It actually makes me kind of smile inside to think that God is interested enough in me to answer my petty challenge.

I feel like a toddler, pounding feeble fists on the broad chest of my parent, throwing a fit because I just don't understand. God's patience astounds me. If I were God, I would have totally written myself off a long time ago.

It's hard for me to put into words all that I've learned. It's been gradual steps, here a little and there a little.

First of all, I had to learn to step outside of myself. I realized that I'm not the only sufferer in the world. Okay, I already knew that. And, when God acts (or seemingly doesn't), he takes into account more than just my feelings. He's governing the whole universe, which is easy to forget in the throes of personal agony. So, when I'm looking at why things did or didn't happen in my life, I have to remember that I am part of an intricately interconnected web of cause, effect, personal choice and free will.

It's rather trite, I know, to tell someone who is in such pain that "God didn't stop the person who was supposed to love and nurture her from destroying her soul because he doesn't violate a person's free will... and thus she was devastated and shattered." It's true, and it's a factor, but it's not the whole answer. It almost makes it seem like he loves the abuser more than the abusee. Yeah, he loves them so much that he won't interfere with their free will, but he doesn't love me enough to help me.

I've thought all these things.

The grand scheme of things also needs to be taken into account- that if God stepped in and kept everyone from being hurt, no one would ever realize how much sin sucks, and we would never want to leave this beat up, diseased planet for the WAY BETTER THING that God is trying to bring us to. (Namely, "Heaven".)

Okay, so I pretty much knew all this. Yes, the adversary, Satan, is out for blood. He wants to keep me from seeing who God really is, he wants to keep me away from him, and he'll do anything- lie, murder, steal, manipulate, pillage, plunder, destroy, flatter, seduce, etc. God loves me, wants the best for me, but will only use truth and honor to try to woo me. No force. God won't violate my free will, or anyone else's. Someday soon, this will all be over, everyone will have made their decision for one side or the other, and God can stamp out sin and suffering forever and restore the world to the way he intended it to be before all this sin stuff came into the mix. I know, I know, I know. But that still doesn't quench the fires of rage and undiluted agony that rage within my heart. I'm still HURTING! This theological stuff doesn't touch my pain.

Phase 2- God hurts, too. I realized that God wasn't passively watching, or turning away and ignoring the shredding of my tender soul. He saw it happen. He saw me being beaten. He saw me being defiled. He saw G making choices that wounded all of us, and he was trying to get him to see sense, to see the light. G chose not to, and we paid for it. God saw all this. He didn't ignore it. What's more... it hurts him, too. It's not my pain, it's OUR pain. It's not me suffering alone down here and God trying to console me. It's that shared agony that bonds people... like veterans of war. I don't know why he didn't step in and stop G #1 or #2. I know he could have. But it hurt him too, and continues to, I think, because it still hurts me. I wonder if he cried. Regardless, it wasn't inaction based on indifference. He had a reason for not stepping in, though it was painful to the both of us.

Then, recently, another flash of insight revealed this gem (which I hope I can explain adequately without sounding callous or anything) - It's not about happiness, it's about righteousness.

God loves me. He's told me so, and I have (mostly) believed it, though it's hard at times. Sometimes, he doesn't act in ways that I think true love would act if it were really true. (For instance, letting me be abused.)

But if God were only out for our immediate happiness, then there would be no point in even bothering with a plan of salvation. Salvation from what? Doing it satan's way is often more fun, for the moment. Instant gratification. It feels better, it looks better, and it is far, far easier.

But where does it lead? That was G's lifestyle. Do what I want, when I want it, 'cause it feels good and, well, I want it. What happened? He ruined our lives. Someone else had to pay the price for his enjoyment. (Now he pays it himself, and good riddance.) That's not how we were designed to operate. It's going contrary to the way that all of creation was designed. Eventually, it will break itself down. (That's what cancer is, you know- selfish cells that only take, never give. They destroy the other cells, instead of living in harmony of give and take like they are supposed to.)

If God were concerned only with my happiness, of COURSE he would have stepped in! And this is not to say that God doesn't care about my happiness- he does. He loves me, and wants me to be happy. But I've realized that righteousness supersedes happiness on his Action Priority Scale. Someday, the world as we know it will be ended. Heaven- happiness, eternally. Would God rather we be happy right now, for this short lifespan of ours, or happy eternally later? What a balancing act! Of course, he does stuff to make me happy now, too.... but I had been operating under the premise that, if I followed God, I would be happy all the time. Life would be awesome, and things would be good. Then, when things got hard, or I was sad, I thought that I was doing something wrong. I'm not happy. There's a flaw here somewhere.

Is this even getting out right? I don't know. But the realization that, as my parent, God is willing to let me be unhappy for a time for the sake of my greater good (like a parent corrects a child for long-term growth, despite the fact that they are unhappy about it at the time) actually assures me that he loves me more than I thought. If he were a Disneyland Daddy, I'd be worried. He's way more stable than that. He's got the long-term in mind, and that's calming.

(I just wish I didn't have to hurt so bad sometimes...)

Sorry if this sounds trite and cliche. It kinda does... but it is so deep. I'm just not doing it justice.

The kicker, though, is that I had challenged God to show me that I could trust him by my birthday. On my birthday, he brought me a book called "He Loves Me!", which deals with "learning to live in the father's affection". The first chapter talks about "daisy petal Christianity"- when things are going good, God loves us. When bad things happen, God doesn't, and we have to make him like us again.
FAKE! LIES! (The book is talking about how we adopt that philosophy, but it's not true.) But it is what I needed, just in time. Right on the deadline.

I just suddenly got very sick feeling. A wave of dizziness is washing over me, and now I have to go lie down, shower, and make lunch... all at the same time. :)

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