Monday, November 7, 2016

90% Eeyore

Yesterday was not a bad day, but I had a really bad attitude, so it felt like one. I usually love the time change, but for some reason, I kept waking up, and each time, I would have to do mental math gymnastics to figure out what time it really was because I had not changed the clock on my nightstand. I finally got up, just to end the misery of staying in bed, and not being able to sleep. 

Looking back, I should have done my yoga first, and given myself a chance to get my blood flowing and to really wake up. But no, it was Sunday, and I pulled my Bible off the shelf, and settled into my recliner with a cup of coffee, and got ready to read the good word. As it turns out, I was not ready for the day, and all it held.

For the last month or so, I had given myself a break after reading Exodus, and treated myself to the Psalms. I figured I deserved some poetry; some lighter reading. My devotion time has been great, most of the time, but yesterday, I had decided to get back to my schedule, and Leviticus was on the docket. Have you ever read Leviticus? Blood sacrifice is not for the faint of heart. You don't want to do it when you're feeling queasy; that's for sure. 

First of all, I should mention that for about 15 years, I lived IN a meat packing plant, or beside one. I can tell you a little bit about killing animals, about entrails, about blood, about excrement, and I can tell you a lot about the smell. That smell will haunt my nostrils forever.

So, as I'm reading about sinners' instructions for atoning for their sins by bringing a young bull without blemish to the priest, and laying their hands on its head before they kill it, and the priests sprinkling blood on the wood of the altar, I can't help it. I am imagining the smell of that place. That place of sanctification. Of holiness. Of dedication. 

And I am there, wrinkling my nose, trying not to wretch as I beg forgiveness for my sins. I feel the overwhelming sense of sadness as I look into the eyes of that innocent animal before it is killed, knowing that it is going to die because of my weaknesses and lack of commitment. I am aware of the smell of death that lingers in this holy place, and I realize that all of the smoldering incense in the world will never mask that underlying odor. 

So I managed to push through the first three chapters of Leviticus before I had my breakfast, and I was not feeling lighthearted at all. The opposite is what I felt, so I turned to my reading for my women's Bible study group, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I was hopeful I would be able to turn my mood around. But no. Not yesterday. My additional reading just added insult to injury. 

As I was reading about tolerance, which is so important to me, I began to feel nervous. Tolerance, acceptance, and not judging others are very dear to my heart. I want to do more than tolerate the people around me; I want to love, encourage, and uplift those who feel marginalized. 

As I continued to read, I felt a sense of dread as I read this quote:

"Tolerance is perhaps the ultimate value of our culture. Ironically, there is little, if any, cultural tolerance for commitment to absolutes."

And then the example given of absolute truth jumped right into one of the biggest controversies of all: creationism versus evolution. All along, I've been able to accept that there is scientific evidence that supports the evolution of plants and animals on earth, AND that God created all of this. Knowledgeable men of God since the beginning of time have told us there are some mysteries we don't have to understand at this time; we just need to trust God. I was okay with knowing God created the earth, and every single thing in it. And I was okay with archeologists discovering bones and fossils that are records of life from millions of years ago. It is mysterious, and wonderful to me. 

But in my reading, the author of the book makes this bold statement:

"If evolution is a subject you are interested in investigating further, you will find that the supposed scientific consensus on the subject isn't real."

And just like that, I closed the book. I realized I was in no condition to read anything else that assaulted my mental and spiritual state. I was done. Old memories had been stirred up in Leviticus, and my way of thinking was being challenged by this modern day author. I felt myself sinking into a sadness that would not be easy to bring myself out of. 

Chuck knew I was struggling. We talked things over after breakfast, but I was not able to shake the feelings that plagued my thoughts. I really wanted to stay home from church, and just stay in bed, but I knew I should go. 

Sidenote: In the author's defense, Chuck says I may have interpreted his words incorrectly. The author wasn't saying the EVIDENCE isn't real, which is what I initially thought. He was saying that the scientists are not as united as we might be led to believe about the theory of evolution. The "supposed scientific concensus isn't real." Okay, I can see that. I was still upset because I felt like the wording was inviting me to take a stand, although with the contrariness I was courting yesterday, I felt backed into a corner, and I just didn't have any fight in me.
Why do things have to seem so hard when I'm feeling low? My mind was reeling with visions of innocent animals being slaughtered to atone for hard-headed, and cold-hearted humans. I kept smelling the foul smell of death, and blood, and guts. And on top of that, how dare someone challenge my simple way of looking at creation? How dare he tell me that scientific evidence isn't real? (I know now; he didn't say that exactly.) How ignorant was that? (How ignorant was I?)

And then I wondered if somehow I was sinning to believe in my own little creation theory, sprinkled with bits of evolution. Was God angry that I was allowing my mood to be overtaken by my thoughts? Was he disappointed that I was so prideful, and arrogant, and close-minded myself, that I couldn't even read a view that may be in opposition to my own without losing my temper? 

As we settled in the car for the 35 minute drive to church in Naperville, Chuck asked me how I was feeling. Using a 100-Acre Wood reference I knew he would understand, I told him I was "90% Eeyore/10 % Rabbit."

He smiled, understanding, and said, "Well, that's not much improvement, is it?" No. No, it wasn't. I was still feeling hopeless, and more than a little arrogant. 

I cried through the beginning of church. I buried my face in Chuck's chest, and cried while everyone around me sang songs of praise to God. I sniffled, and wiped tears off my cheeks while our cheerful pastor greeted us, and welcomed us on this glorious Sunday after the Cubs' huge win in the World Series. There was so much joy around me, and all I felt was sadness, disappointment, and gloom.

Last night when Chuck kissed me goodnight, he reminded me that a new day was coming, and things would seem better in the morning. 

Today is Monday, and my mood is lifting, and I am able to think more clearly. I haven't had the energy to peek in to see what Leviticus has to say today, but I've re-read the lesson about tolerance, and absolute truth. I'm willing to open my mind a little more, and question myself on my own beliefs.

It seems to me that when I feel overwhelmed, slightly threatened, and like I am way outside of my comfort zone, I'm on the verge of learning something important. These life lessons don't come cheap, but they are usually worth the price. 

Today, I'm feeling much less like Eeyore; thank goodness. For now, I am grateful to feel a little more like myself. It's nice to have the energy to face the day, and look forward to spending some time with the man who loves me through all of my moods, from Eeyore to Tigger. He is my Christopher Robin in our 100-Acre Woods, and I am grateful to have his love and support.  

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