Nell Goddard

musings of a clergy child

24 Oct

At the feet of Jesus

I've always been scared of my pain.

It seems unladylike, unnecessary, and inconvenient. It gets in the way of getting things done, of being a 'functional adult', and often, it also seems to get in the way of my faith. I will bring my carefully thought out theological questions to God, approaching politely and quietly, and asking Him calmly what He thinks. But these questions, these carefully thought out theological questions, they are not personal. They are abstract, they are distant, and they are safe.

My pain, however, is personal. My pain is intimate to my life, and it most certainly is not safe. My pain is uncontrollable and inexplicable. The questions surrounding my pain, the cries of 'why?', and the wordless sobs are not so easily answered. These cannot be intellectualised, placed into an academic article, or summarised neatly in a 3000-word essay. Pain cannot be brushed aside with a 'you'll understand when you're older' or 'it's going to be okay', because often, you won't ever understand and it feels as if it will never be okay ever again.

I spent a lot of time hiding my pain from God. I expected to bring it to Him and, in all honesty, I expected Him to tell me to get over it. I expected human platitudes, a gentle but vaguely patronising pat on the arm, a metaphorical cup of tea and a reminder that there were other people in the world whose suffering is far worse than mine. I expected Him to tell me to stop wasting His precious time because He had other people to be looking after, other people with much more pressing issues and more acute pain than I could really ever imagine.

But then I found myself at the feet of Jesus. Standing, alone, in His throne room, my body heaving with sobs and my mind screaming the questions I promised I would never ask. 'Why, God? Why then? Why that way? Why did we have to leave? Was it Your will? Did you plan this? Did you call us to it? Were they really Christians? Were they really a part of your church, your body? Do you love me? Are you sure? Why did you let that happen? What about those we left behind? God we had so much left to give, so much more to do, why did you take us away? Why was she so sick? Why was he so angry? Why did you let that happen to a child? Why did they insist they were doing Your will? God I don't understand. God, it hurts. God, it still makes me so very, very angry. God I'm still struggling to forgive. God it still hits me when I least expect it and I find myself on the floor, wounded and broken. God if you are truly just and all powerful, why did it happen? God I don't understand.'

The questions went on and on, round and round, and the tears fell as they hadn't done for years. Shoulders shaking uncontrollably, fists clenched and eyes shut.

And so I stood, at the throne of Jesus, of God, of the King of the Universe, and I cried.

There were no human platitudes.

There were no metaphorical cups of tea.

There were no reminders of the others who had suffered more or differently to me.

There were no gentle pats on the arm and no promises of later explanations, or future understandings.

There was only acceptance.

No words, no physical contact, no sympathetic sounds. Just acceptance.

Acceptance of the pain caused, and the tears shed. Acceptance of the time lost and the burdens carried. Acceptance of me, and my pain. Acceptance of the mess. Acceptance of my tears, and my anger, and my questions.

This was not saying that what happened was okay, that it was condoned or approved of. This was not a placation, or an acceptance of the actions themselves, but an acceptance instead of the emotions caused by the actions, a validation that it was okay to be angry, okay to be hurt, okay to be confused. It was okay to be questioning and begging for justice.

There weren't any answers.

But there was something better. There was acceptance.

It was then that I began to lose the fear of my pain. It was there that I began to learn that God can cope with my tears, my anger, my deep-seated and overwhelmingly personal questions. It was at the throne of Jesus, eyes closed, fists clenched and shoulders heaving, that I took another step towards letting go of all that had gone before.

You might be scared of your pain. It might be too unbearable even to utter. It might be so big and so strong that you fear it will tear you apart should you even cast your eyes towards it.

Your pain might be scary to you. But it is not scary to the One who bore it 2000 years ago on that old rugged cross. Who took it upon himself to remove all that burdens you, shatters your confidence and destroys your trust. There is nothing too big for His shoulders to bear, even that which is too heavy for you to begin lifting. He will take it from you, and He will carry it.

There may not be answers, not this side of eternity. There may not be human justice. There may not be apologies, compensation or mediation.

But there will be acceptance, and it will be found at the feet of Jesus.

Nell Goddard

Hi, I’m Alianore. I used to be known as 'Nell Goddard', but then I got married and changed my name. I’m an author, blogger, and speaker. A theologian, on a good day. A Christian, a storyteller, and a friend. I tweet as @alianoree and you can find more of my writings in my first book, 'Musings of a Clergy Child'.