Through a friend on Twitter, @gailhyatt I’ve been exposed to some Orthodox Christian podcasts. They are interesting to listen to, they provide perspectives I wouldn’t always encounter from an Anglican viewpoint. Everyone needs perspective.
One of the podcasts I listen to is by a Father Thomas Hopko, it is called “Speaking the Truth in Love”. A week or so ago Fr. Tom read an email he had received from a listener which caught my attention. She wanted to know why God played favourites.
The lady indicated in her email she had grown up in an alcoholic home, which at minimum meant she had experienced emotional abuse. I didn’t grow up in an alcoholic home but I experienced abuse.
The lady wrote that she believed some children are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, they are holy from birth and have all of the advantages. Others never get the chance to become saints because they are used and abused and never have a choice. She asks why some go sailing up the mountain to be saints while others stumble around at the foot of the mountain, never able to trust God enough to make it up the mountain.
She hasn’t been able to trust people let alone a God who doesn’t talk to her. A God she doesn’t believe she’d have a chance of having prayers answered for really important things in her life. She has tried for 15 years and hasn’t been able to form a relationship with God. She concludes by asking: “Is God too busy with ones he really likes to even bother with the ones at the foot of the mountain?”
Fr. Tom answered as the theologian he is, I have some thoughts as a lay person and a fellow survivor.
Twenty years ago, I could have been the lady writing that email, except I hadn’t spent 15 years trying to form a relationship with God. I had spent 15 years rejecting the whole concept of God though.
I had been raised in a nominally Christian home. I say nominally in that my parents taught Sunday School classes, faithfully took us to Sunday school and church. I was always bothered by the seeming disconnect between Sunday and the rest of the week. I rarely remembered any mention of what I learned at church and what happened in our lives being remotely connected. No wonder that by 15 I was anxious to rid myself of church.
The relationship with God came after I learned to trust some people in my life. After I learned that there are people who can and should earn trust. I’m still slow to trust but once it is earned, I find much strength in being able to. It was one of those people I slowly learned to trust who started my awakening to giving a relationship with God a second look.
At some level I caught on that God speaks to me in His way, and it’s my challenge to recognise the ways. I rarely discern his hand in my life until later, it takes listening, watching and thought on my part. If I waited for God to just respond to my prayers like a person does to my comments, I’d never believe God was anywhere in my life.
I’ve learned along the way I can’t control how the relationship with God develops. As much as I really want to, I have to let it develop as I seek deeper understanding of what that relationship means.
For some reason, I don’t find myself feeling less in God’s eyes because I experienced abuse. I’ve learned to accept that I can stumble around at times. I can even fall flat on my face. When I stand upright again He’s just as much present as he was when I was stumbling or falling.
I’ve managed to reconnect with the instincts which help to guide me in how I respond to people through learning to trust in He who I can’t see. I think I’d be inclined to suggest to this lady that instead of waiting on faith, she needs to pursue her faith. She may discover the question isn’t so much why is God ignoring her as it is, why is she ignoring Him?
What was your experience with coming to faith? Did God pursue you or you Him?