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loving without liking

January 5, 2011

One thing I have learned about relationships in my short 26 years is this: you can love someone and not always have to like them.

Lately, I feel I’ve been looking at God through that lens. In spite of the fact that I love Him, there has been a strong sense of not liking Him much lately. While my trust in Him is my bottom line, my basis for how I live my life, I still question it all the time. As situations in my life unfold, leaving me feeling wounded, betrayed and ignored, by God and by others, I wonder time and time again if this plan of His for my life is anything but a series of tests that I’m bound to fail.

Why show me this wonderful thing and then ask me to let it go? Why open my heart if You’re only going to demand it snapped shut again? Why give me the exact thing I want and then take it away? As I do my fair share of fist shaking, I have more questions than ever.

While I don’t like Him much at the moment, I love Him just the same.

In this late night, as I can’t sleep, I’m brought back to a time in my life almost exactly a year ago. I had spent months going through interviews for my dream job. I had made it through to the final two and I still remember the exact moment that I received the phone call, telling me that I had not been chosen. It felt strangely like heartbreak. I shut my office door and broke down sobbing. I felt so incredibly betrayed and let down that I couldn’t bear to pray or even address this God who was supposed to love me. I had worked towards this for such a long time, was so convinced that it was exactly where I was going and the road was snatched out from under my feet. I felt bruised, battered, used and cast aside.

I spent months feeling winded, unsure of where to go, numb to wanting to ever dream again. How was anything else supposed to live up to this? How was I supposed to want something again?

And then I began thinking about culinary school. The first time I said it out loud, it sounded like the most outlandishly ridiculous thing I’d ever thought of. ME, go to CULINARY SCHOOL? Clearly, I had lost my mind. I was a writer. It was what I did. I was supposed to trade my pens in for knives and my office in for an apron and goofy-looking hat?

As the weeks wore on, I began to see that maybe it was what I wanted. By the time I sent in my application and received my admission into the program, I felt sure that this was, in fact, exactly what I wanted, exactly what felt like my truest self, exactly what was best and most life-giving to me. And there was no way I could have discovered that if I would have gotten that other job. I would be there now, happy but still feeling curiously like I was missing something I couldn’t put my finger on.

Not at all what I expected, but exactly what I needed.

If anything right now, I remember those months. It reminds me that even when I don’t like Him, God is writing my story beautifully, in a way that I can’t understand. My best is always less than His and despite my tendency not to trust Him, He always manages to be right anyway.

CS Lewis once talked about how acting as if something is true can sometimes help us eventually believe it. Even when we don’t trust Him, if we live as if we do, something amazing happens. Slowly, day by day, we are able to begin trusting Him until it feels truer and more real that that hollow disbelief. I don’t think the disbelief ever really leaves entirely; I think it has to stay, offer its balance to keep us from having honeymoon-eyes about the kind of God that we serve.

Lewis said it well through one of my favorite characters, the melancholy Puddleglum in The Silver Chair:

“I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

And so I shall. Wrought with questions and disbelief as I am, I’m still on His side.

[photo credit here]

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 9:18 am

    So well put! Thanks for posting Caroline πŸ™‚

  2. Nancy Carr permalink
    January 5, 2011 10:06 am

    Caroline – Just this morning I am studying Acts 16:1-10 where Paul is sent out and, at several points, the Holy Spirit (God) turns him back in another direction. Paul obeys and eventually goes on to Macedonia. When we listen to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit we can only be winners in Him. Questions and confusion are natural human reactions but obedience is giving His blessing a chance in our lives. Love, Grandma

  3. January 5, 2011 2:23 pm

    Beautifully written. You’re still a writer =) You seem to be handling your situation with grace; I admire the strength and patience required. Crushing disappointment is so like heartbreak. I felt like I had to truly mourn the loss of my *dream* job- and I still have not fully recovered from it. I have moments of profound clarity, where I feel ready to accept God’s will. Then moments of engulfing sadness, followed by bouts of crazy- when fear and panic always seem to be winning. But somehow it ends up right again, in the end.

  4. scout permalink
    January 5, 2011 3:20 pm

    I’m slowly learning the same thing but about people and not God. I’m learning to love people I truly and deeply dislike. I don’t have to agree with their choices but I don’t have to hate them because of it. In any case I’m totally on Aslan’s side too. And yours. Love you pumpkin.

  5. Aban Jasoomani permalink
    January 5, 2011 5:56 pm

    dearest caroline,

    i relate to all these wonderfully carved out sentences. all of them.
    during my “dark night of the soul” i too felt quite similar. heck! there are still moments, days even when those old thoughts creep in, and invade my life. i am then reminded even in the confusion, the ache, the MANY times of “fist shaking” i don’t want to go anywhere else. He alone has Life.

    sending MANY hugs from a dismal looking Toronto!

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