Looking for God in all things

When they first told me I’d need to write an occasional blog item for GSR, I was fine with it. After all, blogs are a great place to report smaller items that aren’t necessarily worth a longer article, or a place to include tidbits that didn’t make a main story. They can also be a place to pass on a few thoughts on the news or maybe some insights.

And then I remembered that I don’t do blogs.

A lot of it stems from spending nearly two decades as a journalist, working very hard to keep my thoughts and opinions – no matter how insightful I may think they are – to myself.

Another part is that over the years of reading other peoples’ thoughts on everything under the sun, I’ve come to realize that I simply do not care what most peoples’ opinions are on, well, anything.

If there has been anything that has marked my journey through life, professionally, spiritually, and now that I think of it, romantically, it has been cluelessness. I stumble along, falling into both opportunities and traps with equal abandon, with no idea what any of it means. I swear that just two weeks ago I was an undergraduate staying up all night partying, and when I woke up I was married with two children – one of whom is about to turn 10 years old.

I don’t even know how this happened, let alone what it says about God’s faithfulness or mercy. I suppose I might have some thoughts on the vocation of family life, but right now I’m too busy getting dinner on the table while cajoling one kid on her homework and yelling at the other one to turn down the Minecraft video. In the meantime, my poor wife is trying to tell me about her day, while pointing out that I’m way behind on my to-do list around the house, and the dogs are barking as if an entire gang of thieves has broken in, and, oh yeah, don’t forget to take the recycling out. Is dinner ready yet, because the kids have their religious education class in 15 minutes and they still need to practice their Taekwondo . . . .

A few years ago, however, when the kids were at Grandma’s for the weekend and my wife and I celebrated by taking naps, I had what might qualify as an insight, or at least an insight on insights, so sort of a meta-insight.

Probably from a severe lack of sleep, I had been having what I considered to be flashes of brilliance: thoughts on life that popped into my head while parenting, and – at a time when nothing around me did – seemed to make sense. Comparisons like, “This situation I’m in, with a screaming child I’m wrestling on the changing table, is a lot like my relationship with God, only I’m the one on the table screaming because I have no idea what’s going on, and he’s just looking at me with a sigh, shaking his head, as he removes my soiled diaper and replaces it with a clean one. While he’s cleaning up the mess I made, I’m howling because I can’t deal with change.” Which, as analogies go, is probably one of the worse ones out there, whether it’s true or not. (I still think it is.)

And I was having a lot of those little moments: The kicking, biting child in my arms was incapable of understanding that the few moments of pain that came from getting an immunization may save untold misery, pain or even death, and later I’d realize that – once again – it seemed to describe my spiritual journey: kicking, howling and gnashing of teeth, only to realize later that I was being dragged into something wonderful.

There was another one that had something to do with a child’s misbehavior and God’s forgiveness of my many mistakes, but none of those were the real insight. All of those, while probably having some bit of meaning, were mostly just my poor, sleep-deprived brain recognizing that if we look for it, we can find God in everything.

And that was the meta-insight: The little lessons I was learning – in this case, that all too often my relationship with God is like that of a father and a completely helpless, self-absorbed infant – were just me doing what I should do more often, which is search for God in all things.

Sadly, the miracle wasn’t that I found him – because he’s easy to find if you look – but that I was searching at all. I get so trapped in the day-to-day that I sometimes find myself asking where God is in all of this, when all I have to do is open my eyes and look. He’s somewhere in the chaos of that kitchen, with the music up too loud, the dogs underfoot, the kids running amok and something on the stove that needs to be stirred. I’m sure of it.

Just don’t ask me where.

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report.]

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