When God Won’t Damn

by Tamara

'Four Seasons - Longbridge Road' photo (c) 2008, joiseyshowaa - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

I have been living through some real (not literal, but real) shit lately. The past few months have ushered in the most turbulent season of my adult life, and I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me, because a lot of it is my own dang fault–we don’t control the seasons, but how we weather them–but I just want the seasons to change, goddamn it all.

And so I find myself alternately sobbing in a useless heap or blazing reckless trails because I just want some step forward, toward anywhere but here, any time but now, anything but this. Because here, now, this is some real shit.

But despite my middle-finger jabs heavenward, my hiding, my harrumphing, it’s evident God won’t consent to damn it all, and I can’t even tell you how this frustrates me. He keeps it going, keeps it going, lets the season hold heavy in the air, and he seems rather a sadist if he even exists at all. But I just know he’s not and I know he does because I can feel him and his infuriatingly persistent goodness–which, incidentally, frequently fails to feel all that good–and why he won’t just damn it all and be done I don’t know, but God.

Damn.

So that’s how I found myself on the bathroom floor one night, curled over my knees as though I could wrap up my own heart for safekeeping if only I could wrap my body up into itself; or rather, that’s how I found myself managing to walk out.

The last time I had had a bathroom-floor cry, it lasted a good two hours– or, more accurately, an immobilizing, pit-of-hellish two hours–before I even managed to speak Jesus’ name. I was just too beside myself to think of asking him beside me too. I saw in immediate retrospect that this was a faulty, devastating, and, frankly, time-consuming approach to spiritual wellness. So this time when my sobs sank me to the bathroom floor, when it felt like hell washing over me, I sent up a quick and ineloquent prayer to the effect of, “Get me out of here.” And he did–he came in and got me the hell out.

The only thing I can call it is that peace that passes understanding. Not because it was so much peace or such enduring peace–it only lasted long enough to get me out of the bathroom–but because it made no sense, because it had no reason for existing within me. The way I felt, I shouldn’t have been able to stop crying after just a minute, shouldn’t have been able to move. But I was stuck, and I called “Help,” and I felt an inexplicable peace enter in–just enough to move a small and good step forward.

And that might be the way this season goes: Stuck-help-move, run-swear-stop, cry-pray-peace. There may be a hell of a lot more shit. There will likely be more middle fingers.  But it will not, cannot, remain here, now, this. The seasons will change, and I know that until they do, God, in his infuriatingly persistent goodness, will keep at me and keep over me and keep me. And I can yell it all I want, but God won’t damn this season–he’ll be in it.

 

77 Responses to “When God Won’t Damn”

  1. Shae November 15, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    Reminded of the words your friend Jenny spoke, “God dwells only in reality.” And He is. This piece hits home. Thank you for writing rawly (middle fingers included).

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      Yes, I suppose the grace in its being real shit is that it’s real; it’s where God can enter.

  2. ToscaSac November 15, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    How raw of you. At least it’s real, your emotion. God appreciates that even when we don’t understand what He is doing.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Yes, I think God is big and good enough that we can bring all our worst, all our messiest, all our hardest emotions and non-understanding to him, and he can smile and love and work in us anyway.

  3. Anna November 15, 2012 at 5:13 am #

    This post makes me love you a little. I’ve been wondering where do I fit in, in the community of faith bloggers. I’m not really sure, but somewhere over in this corner. So thanks for that. And thank God the seasons keep on oving even when we’re stuck. One day soon you’ll lift your head and see a sign of spring, something new and beautiful growing out of all the fertile shit of now.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

      “Fertile shit” haha. I like you too. Welcome to my corner. :)

  4. Phil Stover November 15, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    I love this post. Love it. In a few short paragraphs, you painted a picture of my story last year. Thank you so much.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      Phil, I’m glad this post touched you and hope that your hard season is past.

  5. suzannah | the smitten word November 15, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    tamara, my heart aches for yours. thank you for this lament. we all tread the darkness, but few are so honest about it. i appreciate you and am praying.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Thanks, Suzannah. It’s either be honest or don’t write, I think. Thank you for your encouragement and prayers.

  6. Jan Off the Wall November 15, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    Tamara, you paint such a vivid picture, one that I think we all can place ourselves in at one time or another in our lives. Baby steps ARE steps, and hopefully you can keep on moving on and upward! You know I’m one of your biggest fans, and want only the best for you, and hope that whatever it is that is making you so unhappy gets better.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Thanks, Jan. Yes, every step counts and I’m grateful for each one. It’s better than staying stuck.

  7. Debbie Nance November 15, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    You spoke for me when I did not have the words. Thank you!

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

      You are so welcome, Debbie. I’m glad they were a help to you even as I regret your need for them. Peace to you.

  8. Erika November 15, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I love this so much. I am here, exactly. It sucks. It sucks so much sometimes all i want to do is scream. But thank you for this.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

      I’m sorry, Erika. I wish you weren’t in such a sucky season. It’s okay if all you do is scream sometimes. You’re allowed. And you will get past, get through, get better. I believe it for both of us.

  9. UG November 15, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Tamara,
    I used to cry in the shower, trying to wash it all away.
    Regading hugging your knees, don’t squeeze to hard or your brains will spurt out your ears.
    Love,
    UG

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

      I will try to keep my brains. Thank you for showing up here to love me. I love you, UG.

  10. Andrew November 15, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I have been going through the hardest season in my entire life and I totally “felt” this post. Thank you so much for your raw honesty. I’ve constantly asked God how I got to where I am and what I can do to get out of it. It’s been 4 years now and I still don’t know. I want to believe that God is good, and I know that a part of me is so hopeful that he is, but it’s so damn hard when I see so much hell in my life. I don’t understand why it’s there,; after four years I don’t know what the point is in the ongoing suffering of my life, but I hope, and pray, that God is the loving, good God that his word says he is. I hope…and it’s so wonderful to hear that others are on this journey too, even though it is really shitty most of the time.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      Oh, Andrew, your hope in the goodness of God is so beautiful. So encouraging. Thank *you.* Bless you. And if God won’t yet change this season for you (four years, are you freaking kidding me?!), then may he be present in it. And may you feel it, really feel it, even if for just a moment. May you have that peace that passes understanding, even if it quickly passes. Amen.

      • Andrew November 15, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

        Thank you so much! Your words give me hope, and that means a lot!

  11. Jlunardo November 15, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    I know what a brutal season this is for you. It gives me great comfort to know that you are keeping God in it, and great peace to know that He will keep at you, keep over you, and keep you…in his mighty mercy and perfect love. If you did not have your faith through all of this, how could you possibly come out of it into a new season? May he make beauty of your ashes. Love you forever.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

      Thank you, Mom. I’m not really keeping God in it so much as he is sticking around like a socially inept house guest. But it’s good, isn’t it? Who knows what gifts he might bring.

  12. Sarah Askins: Poet-Writer November 15, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    I understand the real shit, the rawness, and not angry cussing prayers too. Love dear friend, Tamara, much grace.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      I know you get it, friend. My love to you. God’s peace to you.

  13. Shelbey November 15, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    I just wanted to say that I can totally relate to this post. It describes years 2010-11 quite accurately. Thanks for finding the words that I could not.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Shelbey, thanks for the real reminder that seasons do change. I’m glad you can mark an end date to yours.

  14. HopefulLeigh November 15, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    I wish I didn’t relate to this so acutely right now. I wish you weren’t in this season. Much love to you, friend.

    • Tamara November 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

      Oh, Leigh, I didn’t know. Loving you, loving you.

  15. Kirsten LaBlanc November 15, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    You write the truth. I really don’t think God will damn. God will comfort though. You are not alone, my friend. Well written, Tamara!

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      This season can make me feel very alone, so thank you for the reminder that I’m not.

  16. Annette Skarin November 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Tamara, the seeking, believing daughter of God. I notice some people are not comfortable with such transparency and some would like to fix you, but believe me, I would rather you speak it real.
    Sometimes, I write much better in pain, then I do when “all is well.” There is no con-damn-nation in Christ,(paraphrase, mine) no matter how I feel.
    “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” Ecclesiastes 7:3 I’ve jabbed my fist skyward many times. And, that’s what I love about David in the Psalms and Job.
    This post has helped me today!

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:40 am #

      Thank you. I sure hope I’m being refined; it would be too exhausting to go on jabbing middle fingers the rest of my life.

  17. amy November 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Thank you for such raw words because I have felt the same way lately. It’s like your words were mine. I will keep you in my prayers.

  18. Sarah H. November 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    Of course, you know this already — but how can I not remind you of the promise that I know has meant so much to you? :)

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:40 am #

      Yes. I would just like to have more say in those plans. ;)

  19. Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson November 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    You forgot “write” because He has you writing in the middle of this mess, too.

    Not everyday, but sometimes.

    There are reasons and things will be revealed to you. We know this.

    But it sucks when you are going through it.

    I am wishing you peace today.

    And tomorrow, too.

  20. Morgan November 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Tamara, this reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s coming undone on her bathroom floor in Eat, Pray, Love…and my own cry for enough grace to slide under the door to get me through as well. I found this yesterday and posted it to the ole FB. Auntie Anne always helps me.

    “There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged: the chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past. It’s exhausting, crazy-making.

    Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through.

    It is the first great prayer.” – Anne Lamott

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Oh my gosh, amen! I read that beginning excerpt too and of course it got me. I need to get “Help, Thanks, Wow”– it may be my best shot at actually praying through this season. :)

  21. Kristen Howerton November 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Tamara. So sorry you are going through some shit. I hope that it passes soon for you, and if not that the peace comes on coming.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:43 am #

      Thank you, Kristen. Miss seeing your face!

  22. stephy November 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  23. Carol Vinson November 15, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    This so eloquently speaks to where my heart is this moment – - wishing he would just damn it all.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:44 am #

      I’m so sorry that’s where you are now, Carol. Peace to you.

  24. Ed November 15, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Praying for you friend.

  25. Cara @ WhimsySmitten November 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Oh Tamara. Just… love to you.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      Thank you, Cara. (Oh, I owe you an email!)

  26. Gary November 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    Tamara, I am so excited for you. I pray you will let us know the outcome of this, which may be years from now.

    I have been privileged to be a part of two women that were as open and frank to God as you. Neither knew each other and God responded personally to each one as He is know to do.

    After a friend of mine expressed her exasperation with God and told him to DO SOMETHING, he did. Her experience was so personal and intense, she would not reveal what happened but it changed her. She had a face to face.

    This is gonna be great. God bless.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      Wow, this is such an amazing perspective. Thank you for being excited for me; it gives me a little new hope. :)

  27. Renee Ronika November 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    You know I’m right here with you.

  28. daring November 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

    I read your words and once again they resonate within me. I too, am walking thru this treacherous valley, and oh how I long for this season to be over. But you are right, God will not damn this season… no matter how long… but He will be in it, even if I can not always see Him, even if I’m not even sure if I trust Him anymore. There is a proverb, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…” Just when he thought the world was over… … but what if it really IS over?? In the past few weeks my world has come crashing down… turned upside down and then unmercifully shaken. Even the already broken pieces have been cruelly broken yet again… my heart does not stop it’s shattering… I didn’t even know it was possible for the heart and soul to hurt this much… much less it be possible to survive it’s unending bloody ocean that rages on. Just when he thought the world was over, it became a butterfly… … but what if… what if I don’t want to become a butterfly… what if I don’t want to survive this? what if everything I ever clung to… those my heart loved more than myself, what if they have been cruelly torn from me and I don’t want to live in the devastating wake of their absence?? This is where I am. But even here…he calls…”above the pounding and quaking of my heart, above the raging roar of the ocean… His voice beckons, and leads my weary feet back to this path. I can not turn and run, but I must, for my heart is cracking from the inside out. Would that I could stem the pain flowing from within. And still He beckons, thru blood, thru tears, with outstretched arm, He beckons. I can not run, I must not. With tearstained cheeks, I close my eyes and grasp His hand. In that moment, another ocean crashes down upon me, but this one, of peace. It does not sweep away the pain, but gentles it. It does not wash away all fear… but brings with it instead a newly refreshed trust. With every step, my soul leans heavily upon Him drawing strength from every gentle beat of His heart.” May His ocean of peace crash down upon you.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:49 am #

      Such good words, thank you. And what if it really is over? Then let’s trust God will make something brand new.

  29. Marge November 16, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Thanks for your honesty and transparency. I’m going through some deep shit right now myself and often feel like I can’t open up to anyone but God. So, he gets the brunt of my melting down, cussing, crying, middle finger pointing behavior…and I know he can handle it, but I do feel guilty coming to him more often cussing and complaining than praising and thanking.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      I’m sorry this is where you are, Marge. I imagine God is alright with whatever you bring him. A lamentation is a praise, too– it shows faith that God is good enough and powerful enough to do something about the awful shit you’re bringing him. Maybe this isn’t your season for joyful praise and thanksgiving; I think it’s enough to just bring God your honest heart, in whatever state it lies.

      • Morgan November 16, 2012 at 9:23 am #

        “A lamentation is a praise, too.” Whoa! That is beautiful.

  30. Jonathan B November 16, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    One of my list of songs that always comes back to mind for just such situations through the years:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uC-6MycbHao

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Trust his heart. Yes, sometimes that’s all we can do. Thanks, Jonathan.

  31. Jess November 16, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    This leaves me out of breath.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      What can I say, Jess? I love your heart.

  32. Jillian November 16, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    This is exactly how I feel. Exactly.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Jillian, I’m sorry you’re in such a hard time too. Peace to you.

  33. Rebekah Grace November 16, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    No words.

    • Tamara November 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

      Thank you for being here, Rebekah.

  34. Ambling Saint November 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Yes, I know this place. And when it happened to me, I remember. I think we have to die, we have to lay down all that we value, life and work and job and husbands and wives and fields and so on and so on. Somehow He is the One who tears those things away, He tears and tends, but He does also bind up and heal. It’s kind of like surgery. It felt merciless, to me. But through it He showed me that brokenness is absolutely a key. Be willing to fall on the rock and break to pieces, to go lower and lower still,like water breaking over rocks on its joyful journey down to the valley and the lowest place of all.
    From the other side, and yes I found the far side, after I’d really finally accepted that it would never end (not just pretending I was ready, so He would stop!)! From here I see it was a way to die to self and to start to live in eternity. My cross was shaped by Him to fit me and break me. There are blessings to pain…bless you all my friends. Keep trusting and sticking with Him in obedience and uniqueness. He wills it all to bless you. You will see His face. And it will be smiling, laughing and joyful. Endure the cross of now for the joy which will come to you. Looking back I know the pain has led to glory being revealed. I run back to this place now, I value it.
    It so totally doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You’re like a painting by an Old Master but you need restoration, years of gunk and dry hardness stripped off so the beauty that was intended can shine forth.
    Stick with Him.
    Ambling Saint x

  35. Diana Trautwein November 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Oh, friend. I am sorry. I haven’t a clue if it’s going to be ‘great’ or not, but eventually, it will be good. And it will be survivable, even when it feels overwhelmingly NOT. Those few moments of supernatural, unexplainable peace will sustain you for quite a while. Keep being real, keep raising your fist to heaven, keep tugging on the hem of God’s garment. Praying peace over you right this minute.

  36. Trisha November 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I have been curled up on the floor, crying, thinking I could never move. Things start to improve, then right back to the same spot. Some days I just tell myself to breathe, and get through the next few hours- reminding myself that God is good, right? I breathe and recite Psalms 23, because that is all I can do. The verses are my prayer- that is literally all I can do. I will be keeping you in my prayers.

  37. sonja lange November 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    With you in spirit. I love the fall, but for some reason it always seems to bring winter…cold and dark.

  38. Megan November 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Damn.

    So raw and so close to my heart right now. I’ve had so many of those bathroom floor cries, and, oh, how I’ve been like a frustrated child toward God.

    Thank you for sharing.

  39. Dan McM November 21, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    Just saw this… missed it when it went live last week.

    So glad that God doesn’t answer the prayers he really shouldn’t, the “damn this” or “screw that”, or even Elijah’s “just kill me now”, for that matter. I am likewise very glad that he does answer the prayers we really do need answered, like “Lord, help” or “get me out of here.” Sometimes it’s just enough of that peace that goes beyond understanding to take the next step, and we get “my grace is sufficient for you.” And that is better than the alternative, eh?

    Hope you get through this season soon. Hang in there, kiddo.

  40. Rich November 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    My heart goes out to you, Tamára. I think many struggle with the shit-hole, but never admit to it. Been in the shit-hole myself many times over the years (and sometimes literally—we didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was in 4th grade). My bad season is always the end of January to early April. I barely scrape by, and find myself at odds with the world, my life, and God. Funny thing, he has never abandoned me nor forsaken me… Hmmm.

    Your writing this reminds me of Psalm 137 in which the Psalmist is open enough with God to express what is considered unexpressible: “Happy is the one who smashes your babies against the rocks!” Some call that “sub-Christian” but over the past six decades I have learned that such expressions are really expressions of the deepest faith, such that we know that God can handle it, even when we can’t. So, while in one sense it seems that God is furthest away, in another sense he is so close to you, you can’t wiggle out. And that is a good thing!

    Thanks for your honesty, but your heart as well. You are in good company.

  41. Laurie Matherne November 25, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    I loved this honest piece of writing. I am in a season of discontent, discomfort and plenty of despair. I read in a devotional this week about seasons. I am waiting for this season to pass but until it does I know God is with me, as I try to come to terms with this season in my life.

  42. Kay November 29, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    I’m new here to your blog; this was a great first post to read. I sometimes forget that it’s okay to break down, be angry, cry, and cry out to God all at the same time. I need to remember that God is in the storm as well. Your story reminded me of a very similar incident I had many years ago (I’ve had many since, I just didn’t respond in the same way; like I said, I forgot to), in which I needed for God to get me out of a situation; I cried like a baby for the pain I was in, and cried out to God for help, and an instantaneous peace literally washed over me, and I knew it was going to be okay. Thank you for the reminder that God’s grace reaches us to our utter depths, that, as I read in Psalm 139 this morning, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

    Thank you, again.

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