7 Heartbroken Takes

7 Heartbroken Takes May 24, 2019

Is it really Friday?

Didn’t mean to neglect the podcast on Monday. Going into the weekend there was plenty of time to do all the things that free up that auspicious moment when we prop up the phone and gather our wits. But on Saturday evening I labored away for several hours on a piece of writing and then closed my little device and went to bed…only to discover upon awaking on Sunday morning that I had not clicked the ‘save copy’ button and thereby done all my work on the ‘read only’ copy. None of my work was there. And yes, I know that if I just worked in google docs, bad things like that would never happen. But I hate google docs, almost as much as losing all those hours.

I limped unhappily through the day, inviting my little Sunday school class to commiserate with me over their own deep frustrations about life, and then—being too mentally tired to face it on Sunday night after solemn communion—tackled it again the next morning, which was podcasting day.

This moment of demoralization left me standing, after church, looking into the eyes of three of my children when they realized there was half an hour left to run over and see our old church, but I needed to sit down, pry off my too high heels, and let fall my head between my hands to complain about the bitterness of it all. A true friend at church looked also into their eyes and snatched up her keys and took them.

They came back home, arms full of pamphlets and copies of the Koran, to describe how the sacristy has been turned into a foot washing place, the nursery is now where they anoint the dead with oil, the big glorious blue wall in the Sunday school, now storage, room that I painted by the sweat of my own brow is still there, and that the parish hall is divided in two to separate the men from the women. It was their first real opportunity to wax nostalgic about their childhoods—the way you do when you begin to rehearse whatever formative narrative will carry you through into your adult life. It was cheerfully recited, with a hint of heartbreak.

As heartbroken as one might feel upon facing down the headline by Jonathan Aigner which is being featured over on the main page of Patheos. If he will hyperlink me in his piece, where he refers to me, I will hyperlink him here. Until then you can just type in his name. His title is “If RHE Is In Hell, I Guess I’ll Just Have To Go There, Too.”

Really? Because that’s quite a heartbreaking dare. I would hope that no one would wake up in the morning and decide they’d rather be in hell because of what someone said on the internet. But the human spirit is a strange and complicated thing.

The verse that’s been living in my head for the last three weeks is, “‘As I live,’ declares the Lord, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they should turn from their wicked ways and live.’” They, we, me, everyone, should turn around and repent for being wrong, for being stubborn, for being spiritually blind and deaf to the state of our own hearts. We should turn around and live, and yet we will not. We don’t want to. We want to be congratulated for who we are. This is the basis of every single human religion—Islam, Buddhism, progressive ‘Christianity’—we want God to say, ‘you’re working as hard as you can, and doing good to the best of your ability, and all that effort is enough. I will let you into my kingdom because of who you are.’ Whereas the gospel says, ‘you aren’t good enough, you have no strength, you are wrong in your ideas and inclinations, you are going the wrong direction, you are walking into the fire. Turn around and come back.’ Even then we don’t turn, so he snatches some out at the last moment.

There is no true victim in this life. All humanity rushes headlong to the grave one way or another. Everyone is wrong. Only God is good and true and perfect and strong. And his abundant and life-giving mercy, displayed so heartbreakingly on the cross, is for anyone who repents and turns to him, no matter who they are, no matter how late the moment.

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