As you can probably guess from my last few posts, I had another bout of religious doubt, despair, and a nightly panic attack. But I am coming out of it now. The remedy is calm friends, much prayer, seeing faith of calm friends, a good night’s sleep on a full stomach, and coffee in the morning.
And my older sister is reaching Samwise Gamgee levels of goodness. A couple nights ago, she held me through my panic attack at 3 in the morning, praying for me and listening to me ramble for an hour about all my fears I’d been stuffing. Saying things out loud sometimes takes away half their power, like lancing a boil. Weird how that works.
I wish I wasn’t so emotional. But I know that God makes each of us the way we are for a reason. Every personal trait is both a vice and a virtue — a liability and an asset, to use business-speak. Tolkien’s bipolar struggle produced Lord of the Rings, and Churchill’s stubborn mule-headedness pulled England through the Battle of Britain. My older sister’s simple staunch stubborn strength has frustrated me in so many fights, and yet it is precisely that that pulls me through at 3 in the morning.
I’m not entirely sure what my intense emotional swings are good for —
half the time I am full of so much faith, I can almost see the mysterious divine plan worth every suffering, and the overwhelming beauty of God and people makes my crazy happy with joy and meaning and purpose —
and then half the time I’m in despair at the empty materialist void of a universe full of compromised pettiness and ego and shabby pleasures to stave off the numbing ache, all of us just jackals competing over the ruins.
It sounds funny now. I think, when this is finished and I am an observer of myself in the afterlife, I will find myself very amusing.
These swings have started since I was 18 and had my first faith-crisis freshman year of undergrad. I thought this was going to be a phase I would grow out of, but maybe these swings are meant to happen, my whole life.
Well, I’ll believe the manic-joy-of-divine-purpose-feelings, not the void-jackal-ruins ones. Even if Lazarus dies and is long dead, God will come back. And even after we’ve killed God himself, God will come back. Then everything will make sense, and all things will be made anew, and yes, it will be worth every suffering. As Boethius said, if the ultimate principle of the universe (e.g. God) was goodness, then we have the problem of evil. But if the ultimate principle is evil or chaotic — why would there be any good at all? The fact that there is some human decency and kindness in this world, and that there are people with beautiful souls who are selfless and good, and that infants’ eyes stare upwards brightly, and that toddlers trust their fathers, and that eleven-year-olds believe in loyalty and love, all of this is proof enough.