Since I go to church every Sunday like a goody-two-shoes, people often express their God-fearing to me. Like, oh, God must be mad at me. I never do any religious stuff! Actually, I don’t have insurance against trouble by going to church. It might mean I am more of a mess, that I feel I need church rituals, and it may mean that God pisses me off more because he’s on my mind.
During confession, Martin Luther suggests you should focus on what God is doing for you, rather than pondering what you can bring to the table (i.e., a juicy list of sins for which you are extravagantly sorry). He writes, “What you must see to is that you lament your problem and that you let yourself be helped to acquire a cheerful heart and conscience. (Italics mine, otherwise from The Book of Concord.)
I work so hard to check off my God boxes. Church: check. Meditate: check. Reading of a spiritual nature: check. Therefore, I should be highly spiritually evolved and existing in a state of bliss. And it annoys me when I’m not. “Let yourself be helped”? “Let” is a terrifying word!
My recent spate of brain disorders (the anxiety business I’ve discussed) wore me down to the point that I gave up. I haven’t meditated for weeks. I don’t want to. Meditating means looking at my mind, and my mind is too much of a mess right now. I’ve cleaned up for company, shoved the junk in the closet, and I think I’ll keep it closed for a while.
What if, as Luther suggested, all God needs to heal someone is their acceptance of help? I still find Luther’s theology outrageous. Certainly the church still revolves around prescriptive formulas, not grace. I believe, although I cannot accept, that God does not need me to meditate or go to church or try really hard all the time to find and hunt down meaning like a bloodhound.
I continue to try and put caveats on it. God needs you to calm down so you can listen. God needs you to be open-minded. God needs you to maintain a regular practice. But what I do believe is that any all-powerful God doesn’t need you to do anything. What I do believe is that it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not. What matters is that God believes in you.
This is further than Luther, but it’s what I believe. I don’t even believe God needs an okay. I don’t wait for an okay to do something when I know it’s needed and right. I just steam ahead.
Maybe God can get into your dark, locked closets and fix things because, you know, he is God. It does seem a little silly to think he doesn’t know that you have a closet, or that it is a mess in there, or that you need help to sort it out.
Please note: I’m just referring to “God” and “he” because that is my tradition, that kind of personification of the divine, and the language lacks a warm fuzzy genderless pronoun.