Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gestalt and God

Not a good start. The first thing I did today was get out of bed and groan. My back hurt, my leg hurt, my hand hurt, actually everything hurt. I had coughed half the night and it was generally not a good day to be me. I said aloud, “Oh, good Lord, really? Why am I getting so doggone old? This just isn’t right. I don’t deserve this.”

To which the Lord responded, “Stop it. Just stop it. What did you expect?”

Uh-oh—He heard me. I shouldn’t talk like that if I don’t expect Him to pay attention. So I paid the price. We had to sit down and have a little fatherly chat, sort of like Gestalt therapy with God in the “empty chair.” It was brutal. It went something like this:

God said: Okay, tell me again what you’re complaining about and why you think you have the right to complain. I realize that is a two-part question but I think you can handle it.

I said: Oh, Lord, well you know I painted the entire kitchen yesterday, even the trim work, and everything hurts now. You know it’s tough to paint a kitchen, all that cutting around the edges, up and down the ladder a hundred times. I can’t do what I used to do and it’s making me really cranky. I’ve heard about this getting old shit progression of life—sorry, Lord—and I didn’t believe it would happen to me. I am fiercely independent. No one can do any of this work for me. I have to be able to do it myself. Didn’t you make me this way? What was part two . . . oh, yes. Why do I have a right to complain? Because it’s me this time. Look who you’re talking to. Yes, I can nod and say I understand, commiserate with my aging friends, but does that really mean I have to be included beyond the theoretical concept of aging? I don’t mind the numbers creeping up, I just don’t want the infirmities that go along with the bigger numbers.

God said: Donna Lee (I was touched that He called me by my birth name and He actually acknowledges it even though the priest that baptized me wouldn’t accept it because it’s not a saint’s name. . . but I digress.) Donna Lee, I created you mortal and I created the universe and the laws of nature. Nothing living lives forever. Nothing. Some people live many years, full lives; some die before they are born or their lives are cut short prematurely. You don’t think you’re being singled out, do you? Do you think you’re exempt from the laws of nature? What about your husband John—don’t you think he would have appreciated a chance to see your grandchildren? Do you really think I am treating you unfairly? So can you tell me again what you are complaining about?

I said: Well, I am not exactly complaining . . .

God said: It sounded like complaining to me.

I said: But, Lord, I haven’t been that bad, have I? I’ve pretty much done what I have to do and haven’t been nearly as bad as some people—and if anyone knows who the bad ones are, You do—so why can’t I get a pass on this? It’s not fair that my back hurts, it’s not fair that I messed up my knee, it’s not fair that my waist is getting thicker and my hair is getting thinner, it’s not fair that I’m tired . . .
God said (in a voice like thunder rumbling in the distance): Hush, child. Hush. Don’t for one minute forget what I have done for you. Need I remind you about my son Jesus? Need I remind you that I gave you life, that I gave you a mind, children and grandchildren, and that I wrapped you in a beautiful world that sustains you, surrounded by people who love you? Now I don’t want to hear you complain any more about growing old. Consider it a privilege reserved for only a select few. Now go on and live with some gratitude. I hope we won’t have to have this discussion again. You are dismissed.

 I said: Okay, Lord. You win. Again. Sorry.


  1. Do you think growing old is still "a privilege reserved for only a select few" even when we are all alone?

    1. Good question, anon. What do you think? I'm working on being grateful, to find joy in whatever my life situation. Paul set a high standard in Philippians 4 "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

    2. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I agree, we need to trust the Lord and be content.
      And thanks for the cute nickname (anon)!
      Have a peaceful weekend.

    3. Thank you for faithfully reading the blog, Zene. I am humbled to know that someone out there actually reads it. The weekend is quiet but not the peace I would like because my beloved cat is dying. Just trying to come into Christmas with a joyful heart in spite of the sadness.