Whatever Gets You Through the Day
I was talking with someone recently who went through a difficult divorce about a year ago and something he shared with me stuck with me so powerfully, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. He said that during the awful, heart-wrenching time right after his divorce, he was held together by whiskey and Zoloft. Not by friends, or family, or his church, or even God Himself. What kept him going was whiskey and Zoloft. And as a person of faith, it surprised me how much I could relate to the “Where was God in all this?” sentiment.
Why would I relate so much to that feeling? Perhaps because I, myself, have felt abandoned by people…and yes, even by God, at various times in my life? And why does it feel scary to type those words? I mean, the Israelites felt abandoned by God. David regularly felt abandoned by God. Jesus Himself even felt abandoned by God on the cross! So why is it so uncomfortable for me to see it written in black and white that I have? Why is it hard for me to acknowledge that there have been times in my life when I fell apart only to be put back together by things other than God?
There was the time after a bad breakup that I was held together by the show Lost. This was before Netflix, so I drove to Blockbuster every other day or so to rent the next season. It was literally the only thing that got me through. There was my massive life crash in my mid-20’s when I was was held together by therapy and antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. There’ve been times when I’ve been held together by friends…by food…by my family…by self-help books. Even my writing has often been my saving grace.
And yes…there have also been times when the only thing that gathered the pieces of my life and heart back together…was God. Particularly the season my family and I went through right after my brother-in-law’s accident in March that cost him his leg. I could tell you story after story of God’s divine grace that fell on my family during that time. It was a bittersweet season of great loss met with great compassion and love and mercy. Every day I’m filled with massive gratitude that although the accident took Kevin’s leg, God spared Kevin’s life.
But that hasn’t always been the case for me. And I’m guessing for a lot of you. And it’s okay to admit that.
God doesn’t always spare the marriage. Or the leg. Or the life. I can’t answer why. There are endless things about God that I don’t understand and may never understand this side of heaven. But what I do know with great certainty is that sometimes, when God feels like He’s a million miles away, survival is simply about whatever gets you through the day. Sometimes you just have to patch yourself back up with whatever tools you have at your disposal in that moment.
I’m probably going to get pushback on this post. I can already feel it. And that’s okay. I’m not afraid to admit to the world that I have some questions for God. That sometimes I don’t sense His presence or understand His people or trust His power. That I get frustrated that He doesn’t talk to me audibly when I really need answers. That I have been known to turn to other things and people to glue me back together when His hands feel far removed from me.
There’s a rather cliche quote that says something along the lines of: “If God feels far away from you, guess who moved?” I find this quote to be extremely patronizing and judgey. Who was ever comforted or uplifted by that quote? You’re already feeling distant from God, and then someone comes along and instead of offering words of encouragement or understanding, they tell you it’s your fault that you feel distant from God. And maybe it is.
But then again, maybe it’s not.
Perhaps if God removed His presence from some of our greatest biblical heroes, He also sometimes removes His presence from me and from you. And when that happens, it’s okay to not immediately pull ourselves up by the bootstraps or look for the lesson or celebrate the tough times that are “producing character.” It’s okay to mourn and scream and doubt and cry and question everything. And it’s okay to tape yourself back together with the scotch tape of your choice. (Within reason, of course. This is not in any way me condoning illegal behaviors, so please don’t email me a stern admonishment.)
Life is hard. Tough times are going to come. Heartbreak is going to hit you. Loss is going to leave you reeling. People are going to abandon you. God might even turn His face from you. And when this happens, sometimes all you can do is hold on for dear life and SURVIVE. And maybe try and show yourself a little compassion and understanding through the process.
Because sometimes survival is about whatever gets you through the day. Whatever helps you put one foot in front of the other.
Whatever holds you together when everything else falls apart.
Sometimes what holds you together is whiskey and Zoloft.
And that’s okay.