Right to the End
My oft repeated transgression against God can be summed up very efficiently by one word: intransigence.
It means unwilling to change my view.
There have been three significant times in my life when I resolved to be the one who was right in the face of God.
The first was when I was seventeen. Having been told to, Come and do your work, I resolved, instead, to just slip out the spiritual back door of my life and go my own way.
That basically didn’t work for me for a few years, but I persisted in it until the visions that I had been ignoring for those years came pouring back into my consciousness.
I continued to fight them. Tried to reason out of them. Deny their validity.
But floods have a tendency to wash away many things.
In this case, it was my resistance.
And so I went on.
The second time was when my soul went cold towards God. Like a wife deciding that she has had enough and lets her passion for her husband die out.
This ended not really because the cause of my indifference to God was resolved, but that, again, my life wasn’t working and I felt that I had to return to the truth of my ways.
Twice striking out on my own, the first physically, the second emotionally, seriously compromised the quality of my life.
But each was a chance to learn about myself.
Playing baseball is one experience. Sitting in the stands and watching the game is another.
The third, and perhaps the last, has been a decades-long fight-to-the-finish. At least on my part.
There have been times when I really thought I could just wait it out. Wait for death. Let it wash away the matter.
The command that I so vehemently rejected reached down into my soul and ripped apart those threads that had kept my soul stitched together.
The pain is indescribable.
And the command appeared to me to be most absurd.
And if I am anything, it’s rational.
The whole thing was about commands from God on one side, and complete rejection of them on mine.
As though I had that right.
Until things happened. And kept happening. And I found myself following the commands, if only to get to the end of it all.
Like a terrifying roller-coaster ride. Counting the seconds until the machine stops and the world returns to normal.
But, in truth, I only surrendered in part.
Underneath, I was always right.
It was horrible. It was a nightmare. How much longer until it is over?
As with much of my spiritual growth, what was being dredged up were my feelings of shame.
Do this! If I do that, I will feel shame.
I think I defend my shame to God more than anything else.
Instead of wanting it to be healed and go away, I want to cling to it so I can use it as a fortress to protect me from other people.
All my life, my bottom-line response to God’s commands has been, I will not expose myself to public ridicule.
Or even private ridicule.
I had the right to choose my actions so as to avoid the crossing of my spiritual path with those of others.
I was not to be observed by anyone.
I was not to be judged.
If I had to be me, and there seemed no real way around it, I would do it in the privacy of my own silence with the world.
Day after day, I insisted on this.
And so, as to this last battle, thinking the whole matter resolved and filed away, it appeared that I had not completed it.
I had not done what I had initially been told to do.
Something I had to do in the world.
And there was my shame again.
My humiliation of being me.
Funny. I receive gifts from God, that many have encouraged me to appreciate, and all I feel is ashamed.
And I’m right to feel ashamed.
It’s my right.
The moon came up and went down again, and I resolved to get the matter over with.
Once and for all.
And get on with my life.
So I allowed the dictates of God to rule my actions.
My shame was left to eat away at my stomach.
The day began. I acted.
To the letter.
And in the acting I was transformed.
I felt like the center of a flower watching as petals of understanding and insight blossomed around me.
So much was revealed in so little action on my part.
And I walked away from the experience thinking, God really knows what he is doing.
And there it was: the big reveal.
Under it all, in this matter and in others, I thought I knew the truth about things.
And while I often joke about how often I am proved wrong by God, there are times when the voice of my shame is so loud it blocks out that awareness. And I hunker down as though God was my persecutor and I, his victim.
That command that for so many years felt as unnatural as walking on the moon without a source of air, now feels as natural as breathing.
But, worst of all, I was forced to admit that God was right all along.
And it was a joyous rightness.
As compared with my own, emotionally clutching, desperate rightness.
Here I am left with the realization that a gift from God that has been offered to me for so long, and which I ran away from with such adamance, was the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced.
Or even imagined experiencing.
So I am left with asking myself, What was the purpose of saying, “no,” to God in the first place?