Bleeding-Heart Liberalism and Faith

Before I started this blog, I used to pepper my family blog with random spiritual thoughts that, honestly, did not fit in very well in a venue that existed mainly to inform relatives of the antics of my toddlers.  Since starting Kingdom Civics, I have been slowly transferring these old posts over here where they would be more at home.  This post has nothing to do with the post on conservatism I put up earlier this week, but I thought that the titles made for an interesting contrast.  I wrote this post in 2008.  Even though I’m not in the same place I was then, these ideas still resonate with me:

I’ve always heard that having kids will bring you so much closer to God.

For me, this was not true.

Okay, in some ways it did. I certainly pray a lot more now and beseech God on behalf of my children. I think about my actions so much more, knowing that I have two little souls who are watching and learning from me.

But motherhood also made me realize how different I am from God. When I became a mother, my empathy toward children skyrocketed to the point where the thought of a child being neglected or abused does serious damage to my psyche. It saddens me, horrifies me…I mean, it seriously depresses me. For real, do not talk to me in public about abused children, especially babies, unless you want me to start crying on the spot. I’m tearing up right now, see?

And so while in the past, I was able to reconcile myself with the idea of human suffering through the my own reasoning and the intellectual thoughts of others, it just didn’t work that way any more. And I found myself asking, “God, why would you let some poor, innocent baby be born into the world only to be horribly neglected and abused? What possible good can come from that?” I knew that as a parent, there was NO WAY I would ever let that happen, so how could God, whose love is so much greater than mine, and who has the power to stop it?

Oh, and in regards to the title of this post, these thoughts also apparently made me a bleeding-heart liberal. See, I read somewhere about this study that determined that a big difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives are okay with the thought that “life’s not fair,” and they don’t expect, or apparently want, it to be. Liberals, on the other hand, want everything to be fair, and all the unfairness and suffering bothers them. So I guess I’m a liberal. I will say this: the idea that Life Isn’t Fair does not comfort me at all.

So anyway, like I said, God has helped me through this several times in the past through the use of logic and intellect, but this time, I guess He thought I needed a picture. And whaddaya know, He used parenthood to teach me, and, yes, bring me closer to Him:

On Wednesday, through an unforeseen chain of events, I ended up mopping the Family Life Center at church with Anna. She was supposed to be at a friends house/in Greg or Katy’s office/asleep in her carseat, but it didn’t work out, and now here she was awake in her carseat screaming at me. The problem was, not only was she in her carseat, but she was in her carseat in the foyer, while I was ten feet away in the bathroom, quickly sweeping so I could mop. As I hurried, I started to imagine Anna’s feelings, completely bereft and alone, not knowing where her mama was or why she was essentially left to die strapped in her carseat.

And I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to say, “Anna, I’m right here. I’m right on the other side of this door. Why do you cry like I abandoned you? You know I would never leave you. And furthermore, everything that I’m doing, I’m doing for you. The money I make from sweeping and mopping pays for your health insurance. And I know the concepts of sickness, serious injury, hospitals, and medical bills are completely beyond your ability to grasp, but they all play into what I’m doing here. I’m helping you right now, even in the time that it seems like I’ve abandoned you.

And you know what? Furthermore, Anna, this particular situation wasn’t supposed to happen. For one thing, you got too tired to stay at my friend’s house, and then you got woken up by a paper shredder in the church office. Your daddy is out running errands, and so, due to the free will of many different people, including yourself, you are in this particular situation. But frankly, it’s not even that bad of a situation. I know it seems like an eternity to you, but it’s really just a few minutes.”

Now, while you could make many analogies connecting my particular thoughts to Anna to some possible reasons that God lets suffering happen, that wasn’t what struck me. Frankly, none of those reasons hold up in my mind to situations like lifelong abuse or starvation or so many other atrocities that happen. What struck me was the degree to which all these reasons were completely beyond Anna’s grasp. Even if we spoke the same language, which we don’t, her mind is simply not able to understand things like HSA’s and jobs and scheduling breakdowns. And the difference between her mind and my mind is nothing compared to the difference between my mind and God’s mind. He’s told me so himself in Isaiah 55:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Again, these ideas are not new to me intellectually, but seeing it so starkly as a picture was really helpful on an emotional level. Another new dimension was the immense love I felt for Anna the entire time that she was wailing to me about my unfairness.

The idea that “life isn’t fair” definitely doesn’t help me sleep at night. But the fact that there is an all-powerful and all-knowing God who loves all of creation…does.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Cool. The fact that God knows what He is doing, regardless of whether I know what He is doing, IS very comforting. I am so thankful that HE is in control instead of me being in control. When we try to take matters into our own hands, it really is like a baby or toddler trying to control a situation that the parent needs to handle. It just turns into a disaster. We think we understand what is going on, but we really don’t even have the capacity to understand fully. To think that we do is just arrogant. In Anna’s case, she wasn’t even old enough to understand the idea of trust. However, fortunately, those of us who have experience with this whole Christian thing DO understand trust (at least we should to some extent). At least we know enough to be comforted.

    Reply

  2. Kim, this is awesome. As a parent, I have been there so many times (including kids screaming in their car seats). And as a child of God I can’t imagine how many times – like ALL THE TIME! – that I fail to grasp that God really does have things under control, right down to the minutiae of my life.

    Now that my kids are in college we get to have conversations about these things, and they are certainly able to handle most stuff without their parents riding in to the rescue. Still, there are times when we get to reassure them that we really do understand and have a handle on something they are going through. Those are good conversations to have too.

    Tim

    Reply

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