I would like to think that I have a pretty good grasp on understanding things. That’s a total mistake of me to assume that, but I would like to think it regardless.
There always existed some part of me that believed the older I got, the more things would make sense. Of course, anyone who is considered an adult knows that years past are always viewed as being “a simpler time”. And it’s true, because each passing day seems to bring more complications. More bills to pay or responsibilities to fall short in or ways to offend and hurt people. Maybe not always struggles and maybe not always pain, but always more complication.
Yet sometimes life does bring struggle and pain as well. And as I get older, I understand less and less of it. While I always thought that getting older meant I could better see the world for how it is. Now I realize that getting older means coming face to face every day with a world that you just don’t understand.
I don’t know why marriage can be such a struggle. I don’t know why they sometimes fall apart. I don’t know why people get sick and die. I don’t know why relationships crumble or horrible accidents happen. And I’ve stopped assuming that each new day will bring answers. Instead I know that every morning means coming face to face with the mess of life again.
That’s a good thing, though. Because maybe life isn’t about figuring it all out and having all the answers. Maybe life isn’t set up in such a way that we could ever understand it. Maybe God doesn’t operate in a way that fits our finite brains. Maybe R.C. Sproul’s somewhat snarky comment was right when he said “Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, that only happened once, and he volunteered.” Maybe snark is sometimes the best way to communicate an idea.
There are people in this world I’ll never be able to see again. I spent a summer in a cabin at a camp with a guy who isn’t with us anymore. There are places in this world I’ll never see again. I have fond memories of travels to cities and cottages and rocky beaches on the Great Lakes that I can’t go back to. And sometimes it scares me to think of those people or those places because it reminds me that life is constantly moving, constantly flowing, and I’m not the person who calls the shots.
When I hear about marriages struggling or loved ones passing, I realize that it really is me seeing the world for how it is. Seeing the messiness of it and not getting upset when I just don’t get it. Because I don’t get it. And I never fully will.
I’m always amazed by David’s writings in the Psalms, especially this one little verse in Psalm 21. He’s spent all of the Psalm thanking God for giving him his heart’s desires, and in verse 4 specifically says, “He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever”. It humbles me because David’s life up until that point had kind of sucked. He had spent a great deal of time hiding in caves because kings and enemies wanted to kill him. His own son led a revolution against him. It wasn’t always a good time, but David was appreciative of the things that he just couldn’t understand. I guess he thought he deserved worse.
Life seems to be a journey of realizing more and more how little you understand of it all. The response to that is to either revolt and panic, or to embrace your limited understanding with the gracious attitude that says “I don’t deserve life, so I will be thankful for it.” I don’t understand it. I never will. And that’s alright.
I’m on a journey that will lead me to something more. Something I do not understand. Something that I am okay with not fully understanding. Someone who actually does call the shots and has much bigger plans than the foolish little ones I could ever imagine. More. Something more.
Some idea that could replace my life.