the art of trusting the one who gives and takes away.

i haven’t written for awhile.

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not only have i taken a hiatus from writing, i have taken a break from wanting to.

in the past, any gaps in my writing were directly correlated to a lack of time or decrease in my time management skills, but the desire and the inspiration remained; often i was highly frustrated with the barriers to putting the ideas down on paper.

but this season has been different.

i found myself in a very uninspired state of mind, across all areas of life. and by this i mean personally, professionally, spiritually, intellectually and creatively. it was disheartening in a way that i could not describe, regardless of how long i tried or how many words filled this page.

i felt simultaneously numb and fearful, with a heavy dose of reticence to change the circumstances that brought me there. i felt unhappy, but not circumstantially. it was a deep unsettled state that i couldn’t understand by increasing my knowledge, or modifying my environment, or curating the people i surrounded myself with.

it was a deep discontentment, not only with myself but with the world that surrounded me; inherent within that was my strong sense of helplessness. i felt abandoned.

not in a literal sense, but more in the way that many of my ideals and value systems had been hit hard. it was if i had spent my entire life building an intricate sand castle, which represented my worldview. but wave after wave kept rolling in, crashing over it and disintegrating the foundation. and i could do nothing, so i stood there, holding the crumbled pieces in hands that trembled, wondering where to go from here.

my purpose felt displaced. i felt deconstructed.

in short, God and i were fighting.

in my life, i have been taught how to create something out of nothing, or out of limited resources. i know how to shop at thrift stores, find free things, stretch a budget.

but i don’t know if i was ever taught how to rebuild something that had crumbled. i never had to. i would simply walk away, leaving the remnants of my card house or sand castle in ruins behind me. and i would move on. it was done. i had tried and failed, it was over.

in this case, i had no such luxury.

i had to take everything i had ever known about God, about myself, about the world around me and very gradually, methodically, rebuild.

it was excruciatingly painful.

and, there’s no manual for this process. i have spent my entire life in church, and nobody ever modeled for me what this looked like. which, i think, is for the best. i had to do it myself.

yes, i could [and did] seek wisdom from my mother and my sister and my close friends who sat next to me while i blankly stared at the wall and said, “i don’t know.”

but this was something that nobody else could do for me, or show me how to do. i had to do it myself.

and i have been in fights with God before.

[He always wins]

but, nothing like this. this was new.

i had never been in an extended session with God wherein there is no resolution. not because i haven’t asked for it, and not because He is unwilling to give it, but because resolution simply does not exist.

the most interesting factor in all of this was that my faith was secure.

unlike other sessions i’ve had with God, where i was shaking my fist at heaven and threatening that i was angry and i was going to end my relationship with him forever [which feels very junior high breakup, but that is the best i could do to describe it], my faith was not in question.

i believed. still do.

that wasn’t the issue.

this time, the issue was HOW. how did i take my beliefs in a God that i knew i believed in and had gone so many rounds with that i couldn’t deny what had happened in my own soul, and live with the way the world was, is, and will continue to be.

how.

i have read a lot of the Bible in my life, and i’ve spent quite a bit of time in church.

and for this past session of fighting with God, i have been rotating around and around this one, seemingly simple verse:

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away”

Job 1:21

so short. so few words.

so HOW. how do those words have the capacity to keep my mind rolling long after i’ve flipped the light switch off at night?

but they do. this idea has captivated my thoughts.

i guess i have been taught about a God who gives. i have heard stories [in church and out] about how God loves humanity and longs to provide blessings and good things. and i have experienced that myself, so i know it to be true.

but i guess i have never fully contemplated how to relate to a God who takes away.

in all the time that i’ve spent in church and around people who know the Bible and know Jesus and have wisdom in many ways, nobody ever talked about this concept. at least, not in a way that it resonated and remained inside of my psyche, as a token of idea that i could keep on the shelf and pull down when i needed to purchase peace of mind.

i haven’t brought it up before.

and i know why.

it’s because i truly hate it.

i truly hate the idea that a God who cares about me will give, but will also take away.

as a human being, i recognize this concept and can concede merit. there is character that can be built more often through lack than through excess, and the moments in life where i have been most emptied of my own abilities and comfort — THOSE are when i find that in my simplicity and lack, He is faithful.

but it hurts.

i have said so many goodbyes. lots and lots.

to people that i loved, to ideals that i held, to hopes and dreams that i prayed for.

and every time, i hate it. because although it develops perseverance and strength of character, it is unpleasant and i often want to clench my fingers more tightly around what i believe i deserve.

i wonder what God sees in that moment.

as i crumple up on the floor, the heat of anger and the cold pricks of sadness overwhelming me, is there any hesitation on God’s part? for just a moment, does hesitation come to play, a debate?

knowing that the long term benefits to my strength of faith and personal character will outweigh the momentary pain, is there not still a moment of hesitation in the heart of a father who feels the pain of his children?

i don’t know.

i’m not a theologian, so none of this is based off highly-researched concepts or regurgitating and heavily plagiarizing the writings of others.

but i wonder.

because despite the fact that we are closing in on a year-and-a-half quarrel, i have never questioned that God loves me.

how do i know this?

well, not to be completely ridiculous, but i know this because he is a God who gives and takes away.

i know, i sound insane.

but i truly can’t describe it any better than that. in the process of reconstructing my value system in light of a God who loves me and a world that is so evidently broken on a basic level, all i know for sure at this point is that i am grateful.

i am grateful for that which i have been given.

and i am grateful for what has been taken away.

that doesn’t mean i understand, want, or like it.

but more than anything else, i have learned the art of trusting the One who gives and the One who takes away.

and in this moment, that is enough.

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