Today's passage at church was from Mark 13:1-8, when Jesus offers a little touch of apocalypse and basically says the world will end, so don't get too attached and like, don't worry, because this is but "the beginning of the birth pangs."
(I find this last line funny, because Jesus is talking to male disciplines and what do they know of birth pangs? I guess they know what they've seen and heard. Had they actually felt birth pangs I think they'd worry a whole freaking lot).
The first thing I thought of was not COVID-19, nor was it terrorism or wars or famines or all those specific apocalyptic things Jesus calls out. I thought of all the little apocalypses in my own life that have paved the way for the coming of Christ in my heart.
Before I go any further I want to firmly state that I do not believe any of the following things:
1. All things happen for a reason.
2. God picked me for hard things because I can handle it.
3. You gotta have faith.
4. God causes bad things.
5. God punishes us with bad things.
I do believe the following:
1. The world is a random shit show.
2. God made every cell of me and helps me discern how to use myself to get through hard times.
3. God loves the faithless and the reluctant.
4. The devil causes all bad things.
5. God loves us. I don't understand why He cannot stop the horror; I think it must be very complicated.
So, with that out of the way, I also believe that all the horrors of my own life have wrecked and ruined the person I was before those things; paving the way for more of the Holy Spirit to fill me and refine me.
I've had several apocalypses that have ruined me: Lily's premature birth, her brain tumor diagnosis, Chloe's premature bright, the death of my Father and the death of my brother. These things have been battles in my life, terrible events that people hear of and think: that's scary.
And yeah, it is scary. The world is scary.
Before Lily was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I actually worked for a charity who's case for support was "you won't see cancer cured in your lifetime, so give to us." I wrote the case for support. And it worked, really ,really well. Then my daughter had cancer. And all I could think was: "boy I was a total freaking jerk." It wasn't just because I threw cancer research under the bus, it was because I operated in a way that was "us versus them." I believed you could not support everyone and had to pick a team.
And I don't feel that way anymore. I am not a wealthy philanthropist nor do I have unlimited time; but ever since 2007, I find myself always wanting and trying to support the causes and charities that mean a lot to my friends. It is never us versus them. It is not a competition. It is that we all have to work together to fix this world--so let's hold each other up and support each other however we can.
I was also really afraid of carving out the kind of motherhood and career I wanted. I did not overcome this fear overnight; but Lily's illness created a new clarity in me: I wanted to be home with my children and I wanted to write and progress in my communications career. I carved out my own way--working whenever I could, starting out slow and building up my work and projects and being clear with myself and those I worked for: motherhood is first for me.
You might not think this took a lot of courage; but for me it did. I had a set idea of the kind of career woman I wanted to be. I had to change that idea in order to be true to myself--it was a little apocalypse in myself that made the shift to me living in truth and clarity.
There have been other shifts--I am still thinking about the experience of walking with others in suffering and then emerging together in joy. This is a big truth in my life and one that I would not have ever been able to see or feel had it not been for my own suffering. I am continually blessed by being able to try to be a blessing to others and experience deep friendship in the midst of hard times, which always, somehow turn into good times.
Sometimes, we cannot see the beauty of good, without experiencing the bad.
Without the apocalypse, we don't get to have the Son of God, again.