I’ve had a bitter heart these last few weeks. Described as ingratitude at best and at worst as blatant disdain for the circumstances God has given me, I’ve allowed myself to wallow in self-pity believing I would eventually run the bitter well dry and resurface in search of joy. The problem with a bitter well, however, is that it is bottomless. There’s always another cup to draw up.
Yesterday, while driving along the largest body of fresh water in the world, my heart realized this about bitterness. I’d been drinking poison while clear, cold water lapped at my feet.
The God I worship gives His children good gifts. I know this to be true. Even when what I’ve gotten isn’t what I asked for, I cannot deny that my life has been testament to this fact. Even when the gift is grossly different than what I’d been pleading for, even when it hurts, it has always proven to be right. I am the beneficiary of His perfect giving.
And still, in these last weeks, I find myself cursing what I’ve been given. Driving along that endless lake yesterday night, the verse about fish and snakes, bread and stones came into my mind. It says “Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
I thought about this verse and I wept. I’d asked, even begged and then, in my foolishness and sinfulness and conceitedness, had the audacity to curse what I’d received.
In the remaining miles of my drive, I wrote this as a confession and plea for forgiveness. Fortunately for me (and you and all who call on His name) “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
The grave assigned to me held
Your body, Your bones
while I staggered by the cemetery gates
wailing about my life–how it wasn’t
the life I thought that I should have.
And everywhere around me
the trees awoke. Birds pulled
the sun closer. Snow receded
in song. You rose like a crocus
from softening ground, reciting
a poem about Love. There was dirt
in Your hair and nails but no sarcasm
in Your voice. I memorized
the stanzas, wore them like jewels
around my neck.
You turned to go. I followed, a hungry child
begging for crumbs. From Your pocket, You pulled
a beautiful loaf and, reciting
the poem, held it out for me.
Forgive the child
whose mouth is saying stone
while her hands are clearly holding bread.