Two days ago, I felt a sense of camaraderie with a total stranger. She was a waitress at a bistro in Bowling Green, Ohio and it happened when she brought me my bun-less burger.
“Are you gluten free?”
I told her I was and she asked if I knew how many gluten free things they were capable of making for me here. They like to be sensitive to all types of allergies and diets.
“We even have gluten free bread.”
“Seriously?” I looked at my naked burger with regret.
“That’s right.” She said, turning to walk away. “It’s nice to actually hold a sandwich once in a while, isn’t it?”
I looked back at Trev with awe stamped all over my face. It was like she had just guessed what was in my pocket or told me some radically pertinent message from outer space. But it was just a sandwich.
“She understands.” I marveled.
There’s something wonderful about feeling not-alone in something. Knowing you’re understood.
My therapist recently asked me if my condition is isolating. It is. I have yet to meet a woman my age who can physically and emotionally understand what it’s like to live with this. Granted, I know women my age who have experienced soul-crushing heartbreak and illness I also can’t relate to – I’m not saying I’m the queen of suffering by any stretch. Please know that.
But lately, in the most hopeless times, I’m heaving a sobbing “nobody gets it” into Trev’s shoulder.
Where are my endo-plagued millennials at?
(Just kidding. Stay with me.)
Today I spent an hour on the floor sitting frog-legged, mind-blown and enraptured by this book from 1997. Richard Rohr’s Job and the Mystery of Suffering. It was a gift from my awesome Midwest mom.
I had just dodged an adventure to some nearby silos with the Lee boys because I didn’t feel like it. And this time, my desire to be a loner led to something rad.
Richard Rohr is a Franciscan friar. Being 24 and relatively ignorant of what it means to be a Franciscan friar, I imagined a stuffy religious figure in a robe who probably spoke in words I didn’t have the patience to unpack.
I love being so very wrong. He hooked me on page one.
“When we are truly bereaved, expressions like ‘God has a bigger plan’ fall flat. True, but all wrong.”
And on the eighth page, that Franciscan friar had me in tears.
“…making the system fall apart. That’s called suffering. It’s how God shows us that life is always bigger than we presently imagine it. Faith allows us to deliberately live in a shaky position so that we have to rely upon Another. God gets closer blow by blow.”
“The enfleshment and suffering of Jesus is saying that God is not apart from the trials of humanity. God is not aloof. God is not a mere spectator. God is participating with us. God is not merely tolerating human suffering. Or healing suffering. God is participating with us in it.”
Rohr made me realize something. You know what I missed in my last post? I said God’s holding me while I yell and cry, promising me this ends well. Which is true. But He’s not consoling me from a shiny throne in the clouds or from a place of painless perfection.
He’s in the boat with me. And he knows what it’s like.
That sort of throws a wrench in the isolation thing doesn’t it?