Now that I have been playing golf for three months, I understand why golfers take time before swinging the club. They do self-talk, like astronauts and pilots checking instruments before takeoff. It’s what I do.
Because if everything else is in place — my distance from the ball, stance, arms close to body. I can trust my arms to catapult the golf club forward to a complete swing.
Letting go and catapulting to 2021 will be my theme again this year. Yes, I said “again.” I have actually been catapulting for a few years now. But there is no catapulting without a hefty backswing. A setback.
A few years ago, I stood banging on the Complaints Window of heaven, endlessly filling out heavenly forms in triplicate about my complaint, explaining to God in fine, logical detail the reasons why I should not have lost a loved one. And that He should kindly give him back. ASAP.
A.A. Milne, author of the children’s classic Winnie the Pooh, had the beloved bear once say “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Some people call it “the gift of grief.” But I do not want this gift. I don’t care that it has a nice bow, and given only to a few. The box is black and I know that inside are two items called pain and suffering. Not fair. I don’t want to play with you anymore, God.
Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale, in their book “Why Suffering: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense,” say the question of pain and suffering provides the greatest challenge to belief in God. They point out seemingly irreconcilable trilemma that believers and skeptics share: 1. God is all-powerful. 2. God is all-loving. 3. Evil is a reality and suffering is pervasive in our world.
If you love us and you can do anything, why can you not take pain and suffering from our lives?
I had two choices: stop believing in God. Or, well, at that time it seemed like that was the only choice. If I stopped believing in Him then I cannot rail and complain to Him. But I was not done with railing and complaining, so not believing was not an option. I continued holding this black box to heaven, this…this gift of grief.
For a few years, my energy was all spent grumbling and sometimes frothing at the mouth with resentment and rage.
Zacharias and Vitale added two assertions to their trilemma, making it a quintilemma: God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-wise. Evil is a reality and suffering is pervasive in our world. In addition, God is eternal. Evil exists in time only.
On my question of “you can do anything, God,” they answer back with more questions: “What does that mean? Can God do something that is mutually exclusive? Can he make a square a circle? Can he lie and say it is the truth? Can he cause evil and call it good? If he can do anything can he be incoherent?”
On my question of eliminating pain, they ask: “Is eliminating pain always the loving thing to do? Does love always mean giving one the freedom to have or do whatever one wishes? Does love have no boundaries?”
And the coup de grace: “Why is it that we finite, self-serving, time constrained, so-often-wrong human beings think we have all the wisdom needed in which to castigate God and hold Him before the bar of our wisdom within our timetable? Is it simply not possible that though thinking we are operating in the light, we could really be operating in the dark? Is it not also possible that there are character lessons learned in adversity that could never be learned any other way?”
A few years ago, I stopped thrashing and started to keep still. In keeping still, I noticed my surroundings. I was now in a different place. Heaven was deafening in its silence. Defeated, I started to explore this new strange place. It was not the familiar, happy place.
In continuing to explore my new surroundings, I discovered fragments of joy. Sometimes I got so lost in these small fragments that I forgot about the black box I carried around. And with a vengeance I started pursuing these fragments to piece them together into a new life. As my boyfriend Dak Prescott, injured Dallas Cowboys quarterback said, “For me, it’s about making and creating small victories…seeing my body do something that it didn’t do the day before or creating a feeling that I didn’t have before.”
My black box is still with me. It will always be a part of me. And that’s okay. My mind is made up. I will continue on to 2021 embracing every little victory. Every little fragment of joy. Every little move forward. My backswing has been held up and high for a while now, long before 2020 came. Now it is time to let go, give in to the Great Gravity, and allow Him to catapult me to 2021 and beyond.
This is my wish and prayer for all of you. Now if you will excuse me, I have some catapulting to do.
Jeni Ann Flores is a cool teacher - a robotics coach, aspiring drone operator and wanna-be writer. You may read more of her writing at https://teacherseditionflores.blogspot.com/ Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.