Are you there God? It’s me, Olivia

My husband tried to kill me.

Actually, he tried to clean my car.  A car that has seen more of my morning coffee in its carpet than ever made it into my mouth.  A small sedan barely big enough for five human beings, let alone the entire contents of my closet plus a 130 pound Weimaraner.  A car that has gone above and beyond the call of duty; a never-meant-to-be RV.

He scrubbed the seats, changed the floor mats, vacuumed the abyss between the driver seat and console. He even filled the tank and squeegeed the windows.  Unsure how to remedy the odor that only small children with stinky feet and squeezable yogurt can produce, he conspired to put a dryer sheet in every pouch and crevice of the vehicle.  A fact he failed to mention when he handed over the keys and sent me on an hours drive to Eugene.

Thirty minutes into the commute my eyes started to swell.  Splotchy hives laced up and down my limbs, the insides of my ears itched in impossible places, and my lungs burned under the pressure of every breath.  I started to panic, wondering what on earth could possibly be causing such a strong allergic reaction.  Seeing me frantic, my daughter reached down into the seat pocket in front of her: “maybe it’s these,” she announced, holding up one of the gauzy sheets.  Scanning the car, I saw small corners of the dryer sheets sticking out of all sorts of places.  And it finally dawned on me “what that smell was.”

Oddly enough my biggest concern in that moment was that I did not want to litter.  So instead of tossing the sheets, I rolled down every window in the car, opened the sunroof and then blasted the heater to combat the chill.  I drove the rest of the way fuming.

Later, I accused my husband of trying to kill me.  Something he firmly denied.  We had quite a little tiff over it.  I may have been a tad bit irrational . . . but in my defense my friend just died and nothing about now seems rational.

She had stage four cancer, and two kids that needed her to live.  God had all kinds of options in how to heal her: chemo, radiation, straight up miracles.  Instead He chose death.  Like my husband trying to cover the stench of my car with dryer sheets, I feel like God got it wrong.  Everything about it makes my skin crawl and my chest tighten.

One question presses against my lips, screams in my head.  God: Where. Are. You?

In so many ways the question is rhetorical.  I know all the right Bible verses to quote, the Christian thing to say, the promises to write on the palm of my hand.  But what I know and what I can see do not align.

God is loving and merciful, but I see pain and suffering.  God has a plan, but I see chaos.  God is working this for eternal good, but I see earthly destruction.  I turn my glaring eyes to the heavens and have a tiff with God: You did this on purpose!

My accusation is also my answer.  Yes, He did this on purpose and with purpose. Those words are hard to swallow, because I cannot answer why.  I may never be able to answer why.  But it does not change the fact that He is still God: even in this.

The arms of God are described as everlasting and underneath.  Often, He is least seen when He is most present. He chooses the position of underneath, so we have nowhere to fall except into His loving hands.  This is my hope;  mad as hell but a little closer to heaven.  Covered in hives, with a car that no longer smells of stinky feet and squeezable yogurt.

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