Six years ago, after a decade of struggle in which I lost everything that gave me dignity, hope, or purpose, I made a decision that I believed would change my life. I knew when I was making this decision that there were no guarantees that it would actually yield the change I needed to see in my life—but I also knew that if I didn’t make the decision, I would suffer for it later, and so my mind (and the decision) was made.
I was in a different place in my spiritual journey than I am now. At the time, deism made a great deal of sense to me, and the legitimate torment of the ten years that led up to my decision fed that perspective until it was nice and fat and logically sound. From that perspective I saw my decision as having two purposes: of course it was meant to provide tangible change in my life, but it was (in my mind) a test of the Lord’s love for me.
Now you can already guess that when someone approaches a decision from that perspective, God is going to simply ignore their “test” and go on eating his sandwich, or whatever he does when humanity bleats “if you loved me you’d do X”, which must happen 10,000,000,000 a day for him. And so he did: he properly ignored my “test.” The decision was made, and I achieved through my own effort something I did not have before I made the decision, but nothing came of it. *At all. *
(If you’re wondering what the decision was, let’s say that I chose to pursue a license in a field that required a license for job growth. After getting this license, people in the field I was in could earn a six figure salary.)
The woman I was married to at the time was initially excited that I got this license. As years passed, and as I found it harder and harder to find a job in my field that would pay me the money we needed to live, she grew resentful and ultimately had an affair. She then left me, essentially homeless (in that I am far too old to be living as a dependent of anyone) and in a great deal of debt I can only recover from if I had a six figure salary, which I do not.
I mention her because she plugs directly into a tenet of our faith that I have learned is as essential to our faith as the Our Father: what God does not permit, he ordains; his will for us is what we endure each day. If it was his will that she be taken from me, he had as much right to take her as he did when he gave her to me in the first place.
So she leaves and I interpret her loss (and for the second time in less than 10 years, the loss of everything that gave me a sense of dignity, hope, or purpose) as a sign that I need to get right with God. When the Lord takes everything from you, I reasoned, it is time to reexamine your ideas about life and simply go where He leads. I hadn’t found work before she left because I limited my search to the position I was qualified for—not the four positions under it that I was/am (objectively) overqualified for. Within a week of her leaving, a position at the lowest level of my profession opened. I took this as an example of His will, and simply said “yes.”
A year later and I am again unemployed, and in a position where it might be impossible for me to find a position in my field ever again. I face a number of humiliating decisions in the next few days, the most humiliating of which is whether I should choose to remain a dependent on others’ goodwill while trying to reconstruct my life through a different career. I am deeply in debt and want nothing more than to repay what I owe—I am not a thief. I want a divorce. I want a home for me and my cat. And of course I want all of this nonstop loss–I’ve lost two (now perhaps three) places to live in less than fifteen years–to finally, definitively STOP.
My question to you, reader, who have been kind enough to read through to this point:
If you accept that the Lord’s will is all—that “thy will be done” is the ONLY answer to most, if not all of the sorrow one endures in life; if you accept that what the Lord does not ordain, he permits; if you accept (as I now do) that surrender is the only way to live our faith, what do you believe the Lord is trying to teach me in all of this, and do you think he’ll ever stop tormenting me?