When Jenny Rowbory talks about suffering, I listen. Jenny has walked with God many years through unbearable pain, and I deeply respect her theology. So I’m absolutely overjoyed to have her permission to share with you her words on suffering and the vulnerability of God, which I’ve arranged in an interview style – please read, absorb and share widely.
We weren’t made to be the stars of our own shows, to think that we are the only people that exist; but to play out this thing called life with the rest of the humans on the planet. Not just the ones we like, the ones that are like us, or the ones who are nearby. We can’t let distance rob us of our humanity.
But just because we understand where our pain comes from and how it has affected us, and even forgiven our offender, does not mean it disappears. This is the problem with self-help, visualization techniques, and daily affirmations; they are not bad per se, but we often try to apply them to deeper issues that will not have a magic wand waved over them.
Have you noticed that the Church often talks about grief in the same way that we often talk about illness and other forms of suffering? We expect people to just “get over it,” that if they believe hard enough, all will be well.
But God was there, at the edges, in every one of these homes. I couldn’t always see him straight on. He was in the neighbor who gave me safe harbor, the sister who prayed with me, the teacher who called social services.
All the odds were against me, against my survival, but God kept showing up.
I’ve recently notched up my 10th anniversary – but forget the champagne corks. There was nothing whatsoever to celebrate, either by me or those closest to me. That’s because this summer saw ten years of living with what Churchill called the black dog.
All I can do is hold your hand, my brother, my sister. I will shout and scream with you. I will curse this day for you. I will bear with you, for the Glory, for the newness. Until we get home.
[Jesus] has appeared to me, again and again, in spit-up and poopy diapers, in weepy eyes and runny noses. He has appeared in the mess and the tiredness of it all, and said, Here, touch me. Put your hand in my side.