Note to self: Know that what you are about to write might be misunderstood. Know that this is about intentions, about being honest, about talking about elephants in rooms. Know that when you have finished this blog, you will always wonder if you should have posted it. Write and post it anyway.
Last night I watched a very disturbing movie called “The Grey“ starring one of my favourite actors Liam Neeson. The language in the movie smacked me around. A bunch of northern Alaskan oil workers made up of ex-cons and blue collared real men really do talk that way. They use the f-bomb like salt… every sentence liberally sprinkled. There were times when I wanted the bombing to stop… my ears hurt.
The Grey was over the top, emotion packed, a thriller of a movie with amazing cinematography and great acting. No spoilers here, hopefully. Yet what struck me most were the underlying spiritual aspects of the story, which came to a head here in this scene where Ottway (Neeson) has just lost another companion.
WARNING, THE FOLLOWING SCENE CONTAINS INTENSE EMOTIONS AND EXTREME LANGUAGE THAT MAY OFFEND:
The reason why this scene gets me, why it is so raw and powerful and punches me in the guts, is because I recognize it. Because I have raged at God. Because I’ve recently heard words very similar to those in the movie from someone I dearly love, and I stayed silent and let them rage on.
I have said, “F*%k it… I’ll do it myself.” Maybe not in those precise words, but close enough. I’ve railed at God, told him how disappointed, how mad, how frustrated I was with his lack of showing up, doing this, doing that, answering this, working this out, and not understanding me. I’ve thrown tantrums. I’ve thrown stones. I’ve crossed my arms and raised my fists. I’ve grown tired of waiting for him to do what he says is going to do.
What do I expect from God anyway? Do I think that if things don’t go the way I’d like them to, or if there are difficult times, that God is against me? Do I think he doesn’t hear, doesn’t see, doesn’t care?
And if God (the same one who I believe made, knows and loves me) is completely OK with me being completely me, then is my raging-out-of-control-verbal-tirade OK with God as well? Can I be that honest with my God?
I’d like to think that even though my perspective goes off the rails and I’m overwhelmed by emotions/hormones and lack of understanding/self-control, that God is OK with that. I’d like to think that God hears my pleading through my profanity.
I can think of at least one example of a Hebrew guy who God called “his friend” who raged, bargained, begged, cried out in self-pity and isolation and pain. A guy named David (of the Goliath killing kind of David) comes to mind. So if David, why not me, why not you?
Still, there has to be a turning point somewhere, where I stop being angry at God. A point where I am just like a child whose had a face-turning-blue-planked-body temper tantrum, and is worn out in a limp sloppy mess on the floor. When I’m done with all my raging and railing, and my ego/anger/will is spent, there must come a time where I choose to surrender to God. Even if I don’t get it, or don’t get what I want, or don’t ever understand what God’s doing. Even if I can only muster up a speck of faith that says something about God being in charge and not me. Even then…
The Grey teaches me perspective on life and death and how I relate to God in tough places. I will probably never be hunted by wolves, or have to pit my white suburban survival skills against the wild of Alaska. My wild places are closer to home, like in relationship struggles, or in health issues and the crushing challenges faced by those I love. Packs of wolves called depression and loneliness, low self worth, selfishness and jealousy relentlessly hunt me. They chase me down in my marriage and try to tear out my throat. I find myself worn out, cut off, facing eminent danger, and then I rage at God because things aren’t turning out the way I thought they might. It’s true. That’s how I am.
But when the emotional storm passes, I quiet myself down, and allow poetic words like these to wash over my ravaged mind. Ancient words; a reminder of the primary directive and focus of my life, a reminder of my place in the scheme of things. When the raging is over, I go and lay down trembling and wait on God;
16 I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.
17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!(A)
19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!
Habakkuk 3:16-19, Amplified Bible (AMP)
Shivering in the cold and muck. Still, as one character in “The Grey” says, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid.”