Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Microwave Jesus

Our generation is the generation of instant gratification.

We want everything our parents had. But we want it right now -- while we're in our 20s and 30s -- without the decades of work it took to get there. We want to be able to afford the nice car. We want to call the gorgeous 4-bedroom house on the block our home. And we want to have a perfectly exotic, perfecting exciting family vacation every year.

And we want to Instagram every momentous occasion (and even the not-so-momentous ones) and post them on Facebook and get that instant validation that, YES, we really did just encounter something special!

Instead of going to school for journalism, spending years writing without a profit, putting our life on the line for the once-in-a-lifetime story, all in hopes of a big break -- we simply write a blog about any innocuous thing, post it on Facebook, and pray it goes viral.

We are a microwave generation.

We want everything. And we want to just press a few buttons, wait a few minutes, and our miraculously amazing life pops out.

Now before you think I'm beating up on my generation -- do remember I'm still right smack dab in the middle of it.

I still own my own business, with the goal helping our family and others achieve financial security. I love exotic vacations -- and I don't want to wait till I'm 50 to go on another one! I post Maddy's cute stories all the time, and post pictures of everything from my fabulous dinner to my cute little munchkins. OH -- and I blog. And yes, I secretly hope one day one of my posts will go viral.

I think there are some really good things about the "go-getter-ness" of my generation.

But one area I see it as a downfall is in the area of spirituality.

When it all boils down, I think our generation doesn't want a faith wrought through fire.

We want a microwave Jesus.

We want all the spirituality, the deep faith, the solid relationship. But without all the work. All the effort. All the time. And all the setbacks.

So you know I write a blog about pregnancy loss/infertility/grief/adoption. So what's been rolling around in my brain is . . .

What does our generation's spirituality look like when life hits the fan?

One place our microwave theology shows up is often how we respond to others' tragedies.

In the beginning, we can be laser-like in helping them heal. We offer meals (which is awesome, btw -- I'm not complaining there!), we send cards with Bible verses, we pray like crazy. We are intense in our efforts to show love and support.

We're intense. We're intentional. And we expect that short burst of support to complete the job.

We offer Bible verses because, well, because it's God's truth and there's nothing like the Word of God.

For example, we might say something like:

"I'm absolutely so sorry to hear your child died. It's devastating, and we will miss them with you. Here's a verse that came to mind. I hope it brings you some comfort:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:27-29

[Ok -- I need to interrupt my thoughts here for a second so you can track with me. I'm not saying that the above example is wrong (far from it!), or that this is not the correct way to comfort. I have received so many wonderful cards and Bible verses, and I keep EVERYTHING that was given to me after the loss of my babies in a basket by my bed. Cards, verses, gifts -- gosh, they are all so meaningful. So trust me here when I say I'm NOT criticizing here!]

But -- Here's where I feel like we get off track.

Our expectations.

We comforters (I'm also talking of myself here) . . . We expect God's word to take immediate hold. We expect that to be an answer to their pain, a lifeline they can hold on to. We treat it like a Band-Aid, a quick fix.

But there are no Band-Aids or quick fixes to gaping wounds.

We don't account for the fact that, to the grieving, God's Word and our experience has collided in an awful crash course. We feel topsy-turvy. Everything we've believed can all of the sudden come into question. There is this wrestling that happens -- that HAS to happen -- if we are to find healing from God's Word.

For me, the verse in Romans about our good did NOT bring comfort. At least not for a long time.

"What good? Whose good? Certainly not Olivia's good! Certainly not my good!"

I was indignant. No, more than indignant. Here was this God I had served my whole life, loved my whole life. And He lets my baby die. And I'm supposed to believe it's for good? And not only did He allow one baby to die. But He has let it happen over. And over again.

And so that very-well-meant "encouragement" felt, I don't know... It felt not enough.

It felt like a fairy-princess Band-Aid on the gaping wound of my heart.

And so there I am looking at my grief. And you are too. We are staring at this awful ripping hole in my heart. And the "correct" biblical answer is right in front of us. And I feel your expectation ... "OK, I gave you some truth. And it's been a few minutes. So are you better yet? Did microwave Jesus work?"

We don't just do this with God's Word. There are so many examples of how we expect a quick fix.

Sometimes we send someone an inspirational Christian song about a "perfect peace." And then we wait to watch that perfect peace overcome their countenance in a zombie-like fashion.

We invite someone to come to a church service, believing that if they could only hear that "perfect" sermon, their years of sorrow, victimization and tragedy would somehow melt away.

But when it comes to grief -- and to be honest, so many other issues in life -- there is no quick fix. Spiritual or not.

Now, I'm not saying it's not a FIX.

It's just not a quick one.

It's not a Band-Aid. It's not a microwave.

It's more like a slow-release medicine you have to take consistently. You have to ingest it. You have to dissolve it, process it, absorb it.

Or maybe it's more like a slow-cooker. You have to fully immerse your grief into the truth of God. You've got to just let it sit, and simmer, and infuse into your situation. You have to let it seep through the hard exterior you put up to protect your heart.

 It has to become a part of YOU before any healing can begin. And the healing will be slow.

And it starts healing before you feel anything different, or you see anything different on the outside looking in.

Which can be frustrating as all get out.

As loving friends, we don't want to watch our friends struggle. Especially when it seems like the answer is RIGHT THERE -- if they would JUST BELIEVE enough. We so desperately want them to be OK again.

And as the bereaved -- we want a quick fix too! We want our pain to just stop, to go away. We want to go back to the way life was before. We want something to satisfy our constant question "WHY!???" We want life to make sense again.

I personally don't want to walk through the pain. I don't want to delve into what it means to lose someone you love. I don't want to face the dreams that are lost forever.

I don't want to do the work to memorize God's Word so that it becomes ingrained in my soul, ingrained in my thinking. I don't always want to do the wrestling with God. I don't want to be a Jacob. I don't want to do the hard work of immersing myself in truth, letting it pull apart my preconceived ideas of who God is -- and how He acts toward us -- in hopes of having a deeper faith.

I sometimes just want the old Rachel back. My old faith back.

But -- I have to believe that God has designed us this way for a reason. I have to believe that His truth doesn't work like a microwave because HE doesn't want it to. Perhaps if it did, we might miss out on the relationship building that happens as we deal with God and our grief.

Perhaps there is a bigger end to all of it. A bigger reward. A deeper trust. A more solid faith. A changed person. A new foundation.

And so -- as comforters, do we stop offering words of encouragement, send Bible verses God puts on our heart, and share songs that could offer comfort?

No. I don't think that's the right solution.

I do think we just have to offer it with a side of patience. Maybe offer to sit with them in that crock-pot of grief for a while. Have open conversations about what that person's faith is going through, without the fear they'll never believe again -- or the judgement at their apparent lack of faith. Perhaps it means we just keep with them through the seasons, and we keep checking in. And we keep letting them know we are praying for them.

Because we are.

What about you? Have you experienced a microwave Jesus? How has your faith weathered the storms of grief? How have you wrestled with God?


  1. I love this!---Lacy

  2. I agree that this mindset carries over to so many things, I call it the age of convenience (doubt I'm first person to come up with that), because if it isn't convenient then it isn't worth it to our generation. Glad we found each other to sit in the crock-pot of grief together. I'm praying for you.