we spend our life trying to become, but the beauty is in the unbecoming

October 22, 2017

Suffering, God & Me (March 2017, Israel)

I’ve been thinking a lot about suffering this trip. I’ve spoken already to the plight of the refugees in Syria. We’ve been reading the stories of the sick, dead and crippled that Jesus healed along the way in his ministry around Jerusalem and Galilee. As an NP (and RN at heart), I see sick people every day at work, and try to use the tools I have to provide relief. Sometimes I do a great job at it, and other times, it feels heavy and like a job and like there is nothing in the tank to give.
I think of suffering when I see the fallen temple remains in Jerusalem, with the women who cry at the Western Wall to this day, pleading with God to provide relief. I see the suffering of the homeless we passed in the Jewish Quarter, who make me think of my people at Christ House. 
I think about how hard it is for me to believe in God sometimes, when the world feels broken like a pile of sadness, much like the ruins of the temple.
Other days, when taking a break from the sadness, it’s not even relaxing. It was fun floating and bopping around in the Dead Sea, but at what expense of life came my freedom to do so in this sacredly disputed place? (Don’t be fooled, I had a great time there, but this thought passed me mind.)
And then I think of Jesus. Smarter theologians can correct me on this, but the stories I see of his healing often happened one person at a time. He focused on the suffering of the person right in front of him. He did not feel guilty about taking a night away from his friends to pray or meditate. He took naps in the sun while chilling on the lake. He made lunch and laughed with his friends. He hung out with kids who taught him to chill out. He called upon teachings he learned at the Temple to give him words when he felt hopeless. One of my pastors calls these restorative acts “soul care.” Jesus did not do them because it was trendy like the latest yoga class. He did them because it was literally the only way to keep the energy to be present to the suffering right in front of him. 
We are humans which means we are flawed. Some days I do this holy living thing like a boss, and other days, I am the example of what not to do. I’m grateful that I have the grace of a God who gets my limitations, kicks my butt back into gear through restorative acts of rest, and then says, “Mari, go see your patients, be presents to each, one at a time.”
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