Monday, October 26, 2009

Daughterhood

My little sister had a tattoo. It was in elvish, as conceptualized by J.R.R. Tolkien, and it read "daughter." It referred to two things: the importance of her family in her life (Kristen was one of six daughters in the Robinson clan) and her relationship to God.
I have been thinking a lot about my daughterhood in the past month -- what it means to be God's daughter, and what it means for Him to be my father. I have, as anyone who follows this blog will know, been out of communication for the past month and a half. This is on account of a family crisis, which I am not going to describe in any detail right now (maybe later -- the fog of paranoia is still a little too thick for me to say anything of substance in a public forum). The point is that it has been very difficult, and that a lot of family relationships have shifted: those that were already weakened have become more strained, those that were already strong have become stronger. There is something in trial that separates these things out clearly; suddenly you know exactly who you really trust -- not just because those whom you can't trust abandon you, but because you start looking around for the clearest steps forward, the firm ground where you know you will be able to find footing, and you can see exactly where it is.
Strangely enough, God comes under this heading as well. Not that God is not firm ground, or that He is not trustworthy, but there is something in the human heart that doesn't quite trust. When things are going well, good enough. We can raise up our hands and sing out hallelujahs and cry "Praise to the Lord of Hosts!" Amen. It is easy to speak casually about God the Father in such times, because you are thinking of a father as someone that you see on Sunday for dinner, someone to whom you tell jokes as worn-out and comfortable as old socks, someone that you can build a shed with on a lazy autumn afternoon. When things are bad it is a different matter, because suddenly God must be not merely a father, but a Father who simultaneously has the power to rescue you from whatever is happening, and a Magus who has made the decision to pose you a very difficult and painful riddle. This is when it becomes necessary not merely to love, but to love with faith, to trust, which is much more difficult. To say, "Lord, you have allowed all of this to happen, and I don't understand why, and now I want you to get me out of it." But at the back of your head you're always thinking, "But if you let it happen in the first place, then why should I think you're going to help me now..." Which is why we return to daughterhood, to a trust that has to sink deeper than just the belief in some sort of magician who will rescue you, deus ex machina style, from all your woes, to a trust that God is not merely going to save us in the future, but is saving us now. That it is all an expression of his Fatherly love for us.

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