Monday, November 16, 2009

Well, THAT Only Took Me 18 Months to Realize...

It's amazing the realizations that come to us in the middle of the night, or the wee hours of the morning. Today, I had one of those realizations and amazingly enough, I still remember it and can blog about it.

I'm angry at God.

I've struggled with lots of anger over the past 18 months. I was angry at myself, then at SJ, then at my District Superintendents (both of them), then at my Board of Ordained Ministry, the Annual Conference, and even Harry (although that's not the case anymore-and since he reads this blog, I know we'll be having a conversation when he gets back from his overnight trip). But I had never even felt or even contemplated that I might be angry at God.

I think that the catalyst for this realization is Harry's trip up to his undergraduate alma mater to give a presentation on some fun math topic. See, in our original Grand Plan, Harry was supposed to be teaching at Alma Mater University after he received his PhD. He was one of the bright stars of the department; his former professor, mentor, and friend described him as the best student he's ever had. Every time Harry would visit during graduate school, key people in the department would do this "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" thing and ask him when he was graduating (with the understanding that they wanted him to come and teach). So, he would teach at Alma Mater and I'd serve a church in the area, and life would be Great.

The year Harry received his PhD (2006), there were three (3) full-time faculty positions available in the department. He applied for all of them, as well as at least five or six other faculty positions at various colleges/universities within the boundaries of my annual conference. To be "on the safe side", he also applied to three or four schools outside the conference. His grades were PERFECT, he was already published, had presented several papers, had excellent recommendations, etc. I expected schools to be fighting over him. Who wouldn't want my brilliant, gifted, hard-working husband on their faculty??

But that's not what happened. He went to a huge math conference in January and only got about five or so "mini-interviews" and of those interviews, he only got invited for TWO on-campus interviews, neither of which were in our annual conference. Alma Mater University never contacted him for an on-campus interview, and when he made some inquiries, he found out they were drooling over a bunch of people who had done post-doctoral research and seemed to care less about Harry (his former professor was quite incensed about this, by the way. Jim wanted Harry to come to Alma Mater as much as Harry did, maybe more).

So...he got a job offer at a small university about 70 miles from the border of our annual conference, and accepted the position. Then I had to make a request for an appointment as close to the VA/NC border as possible. Then I got appointed to SJ, and I now know that they had specifically asked for a pastor who was OLDER and EXPERIENCED (the opposite of me, in other words), and no one saw fit to tell me this until 18 months into my time there. My two years at SJ were probably the worst in my life so far (and it wasn't all about the church-my FIL died, my dog died, my mother got breast cancer, Harry and I were separated for six months while we had a newborn) and did severe damage to my reputation, my family, and my emotional health. I'm still in "recovery/healing" mode from all that and am scared to death to return to the local church because of those two years.

It really just feels that from January 2006 to May 2008, Harry and myself were the unwilling subjects of a massive amount of human and natural screw-ups. So much seemed like it was out of our control. And I'm just now realizing/willing to admit that I sort of blame God for that, and am just slightly angry at God for that. That awareness is both freeing and terrifying. It's freeing because I know it's a step towards complete healing. It's terrifying because I don't want to be mad at God and, as much as I tell others (and believe that) "it's OK to be angry at God. God can handle your anger. Let it out", the truth is that it just feels wrong to lightning is going to strike me at any moment.

I could write more, but Nora is calling "Mama, Mama" and banging on the baby gate to her room, so I'd better go liberate her. We're planning a "Girls' Afternoon/Evening Out", complete with a trip to a local mall that has a CAROUSEL and a cool play area.


Anonymous said...

Oh, beautiful! Not because it is easy but because you can start wrestling with the core issue(s).

In my situation, I did a midrash on the experience using the question "Who was not there?" I listed all of the people who were not there and should have been, and came to this conclusion: GOD was not there.

Now what do I do with that? I don't know. But I do know that being able to name that helped me to forgive some of the fallible *people* who weren't there. It also helped me to consider how my lack of trust in God is continuing to impact my life today.

I can't wait to see how your realization of anger unfolds...

(I'm writing anonymously because I am also "wounded and healing" in the UMC).

Anonymous said...

If anger at God... would cause lightning to strike... I would drive to the Little Church on the Hill... go into the sanctuary... and start cussing God with all that I am. I'm betting both kids... and my husband... that God would just listen... and NOTHING would happen.

Now you might be wondering... how do I know that. Well... I've cussed God in a lot of places... including that sanctuary... and I've NEVER been zapped.

Let it rip sister. God can take it... cause God's God... and I was the test case (probably not the first one either!). Just keep healing... in whatever healthy way you can... and we will keep praying.

Mompriest said...

Me too. just about the same story. (except my kids are older)...