All the Tears

The way I see it, there are three options: there is no god; god doesn’t care; god isn’t who we think he is.

The problem is pain. I am staring down the barrel of my marriage ending. I don’t want it to, there is nothing I can do to stop it, and all I can do is watch it happen. I happen to live in a no-fault divorce state, not that my wife is really claiming any fault: she just wants out. I follow a woman on twitter who is facing betrayal from her significant other. She wants to know why someone who owns a Ferrari would test drive Escorts and Pintos. I wonder the same thing, not that I am any Ferrari, but when you have a solid, albeit quirky Corolla, why rush to dump it for a bicycle?

And it isn’t just relational pain that I see every day, in every corner of the world, in every body’s eyes. But that pain is closest to my bleeding heart today.

So: god. He is supposed to be all powerful, all good, all knowing, and all caring. So why doesn’t he do something about all this pain? This is a classic question, and the classic atheist answer is “obviously, there is no god”. The problem with that pat answer is it ignores humanity completely.

We humans are terrible creatures who insist on being terrible to each other. So much of the pain I see in the world and in the mirror is because one human isn’t being awesome towards another human. To be honest, I wasn’t awesome to my wife. A lot of it wasn’t my fault as I suffer from depression, but some of it was, and fault aside, I was making her life terrible. I saw the pain in her eyes and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Sometimes I saw the pain in her eyes and chose not to do anything about it. I think god, if he exists, is the same way. I would hazard a guess that he has left us humans to our own devices long ago. Maybe he tried to interfere, make our world better, and maybe we killed him over it. Maybe we told him to sod off. Maybe he left.

I don’t know. I just want to make sense of all the tears I am crying, try to make them mean something, try to find solace in the suffering. So I reach out for a god, but I just don’t feel anybody reaching back. I feel totally alone. I have asked for help, asked for answers, asked for insight in this whole god thing, and the consistent answer I get is that if I search after god, if I seek, I will find. So far, that hasn’t been the case. 

It seems to me that if god is there and is wanting to make the loving choice to end some pain he would do it on the quiet, on the down low, on the personal level. He can’t stop natural disasters, he can’t stop people being terrible, but he should be able to make my heart bleed a little less, make the pain of the ending less intense. So where is he? Where is god? Wherever he is, he isn’t here. He isn’t listening to me. I don’t want much, just a drop of water to cool my tongue in this hell I’m living in, and it isn’t dripping down from on high.

So does that mean there is no god? Maybe not. But it certainly makes me wonder.

All I know is my pain and it isn’t going away. But that is life, and it only reaffirms to me that I am human, and there I am in good company. I pick up, I walk, and I continue living in spite of my pain. I do what seems impossible and that makes me mighty.

If you are suffering, if you are in pain, know that you are not alone. You can keep going, you can walk. You can do the impossible and join the legions of impossibly mighty people who are doing exactly the same thing. Maybe that is the solace in the suffering.

I hope, suddenly, that this isn’t just so much whining and complaining. I find it helpful to write through my struggles, but I can only write if I imagine (and make it possible that) someone might read what I write. So here’s to you, someone. God or not, we can at least take a few more steps and keep praying. Let’s lean on each other and walk a little further down the dusty road.

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I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe. I write about what interests me.

3 thoughts on “All the Tears”

  1. Phil, I sometimes read your thoughts here & I find your writing to be compellingly readable, even when I disagree with your viewpoint. The question you’ve asked makes me reach out through this comment, mainly because it’s a question that I’ve felt hanging over me. I don’t have any big, wonderful, all inclusive answer, but I want to point you to where I’ve found some really thoughtful arguments to why we’re all exposed to such terrible pain. To be completely honest with you I have struggled intensely with fear ever since my daughter was born. It’s like the crushing realization of mortality (my own & those I love’s) hit me & I’ve lived in dread of accidents, disease, natural disasters etc. Reading C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain & also his book A Grief Observed has had a powerful impact on me. I don’t offer this as a perfect answer, but it’s something that has really helped me so I hope that maybe it can do the same for you. I’m sorry that you’re going through so much pain & that life is really hard, I hope it gets better and that you don’t give up.

  2. Phil, I think your perspective is quite insightful. There are so many who claim to know god, yet everyday experience of the world seems to contradict such claims. Perhaps god exists, though the true character, qualities, and purpose of such a being remains removed from my understanding alone. For now all I think anyone can honestly do is what you just prescribed, “lean on each other and walk a little further down the dusty road.”

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