A few years ago, I went to a chiropractor that specialized in spinal injury. Although my spine issues came with my birth defects, I still qualified for the help he could provide. In addition to regular weekly adjustments, I was required to do specific, targeted exercises that would strengthen the muscles around my spine to give greater support to the newly adjusted bone alignment.
I did everything asked of me to the letter. I literally worked my heart out for months! It was never easy. It was always painful. There was a lot of sweating, crying, and occasional cussing and complaining as I fought my way through the challenge of realigning my body. But I did it.
But, there came a day that was much harder than all of my efforts combined. The day came when the doctor told me there was nothing more that could be done to improve my physical situation. There would be no ‘walking like everyone else’. There would be no complete healing. That was the best it would ever get – and ‘bone-crushing’ doesn’t even begin to describe how terrible I felt that day! It was easily the most discouraging, broken-hearted day of my life. To work SO hard, for SO long…For what?! I had put in more than 110%, so where was the big reward I had anticipated for so long?
Every day, people go to work. Maybe they’re dedicated to their jobs – maybe not. Maybe all their efforts are for a job they hate just to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. Some days can be tolerable while others are just plain awful. Again – for what? What is the point? We’re beating ourselves against a proverbial brick wall for a life where no one gets out alive anyway. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I’m asked quite regularly how I can worship a God I’ve never seen. Why devote SO much of my life to something/someone I can’t prove even physically exists? The answer is actually quite simple. I don’t HAVE to see Him to know that He’s there. Much like an employee works for the owner of a company that he’s never met in person. Would seeing the boss in person change someone’s work ethic? Someone is paid to do various jobs, whether they ever meet the boss or not.
So it is with my faith in God. What I feel are my ‘job duties‘ (according to my chosen religion) don’t change, whether I physically see Him or not. When it comes right down to it, does it really matter all that much? Again, people devote most of their lifetimes for bosses they’ve never seen at all. At least in my head, there’s no difference.
Yes, there are things I don’t like about God’s decisions for my life. I’ve learned to function with a ‘broken’ body, but there’s still a part of me that begs to be like everyone else. There are still things I don’t understand that seem to come so easily to others, but I have to work extra hard to understand them, myself. It’s very, very easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself.
What’s the benefit of it all? I’m clearly not getting everything I want from it. Just like a job that I feel is not paying me enough for my efforts. Why am I personally willing to put so much of my life into something without clear, exact numbers I can count on for any given assignment?
Because the payment IS there. Maybe it’s in financial gain (I’ve experienced times when the money shouldn’t have been there, but for no exact reason whatsoever, it was there when needed), but most of the time it’s not about money at all. That doesn’t mean I’m doing it all for nothing.
When I’m doing something for someone else (especially if I don’t get paid for it with money), I get to see the relief and joy on their faces for my efforts. I get to see miracles (disguised as coincidences) happen. My body may not be healed completely, but when I’m actively taking care of it as I promised, I feel better physically. I’m literally stronger. When I’m participating with my church community, I’m surrounded by people – which combats my constant feelings of loneliness and isolation. I get to encourage and support others who are facing similar trials to mine. My focus literally shifts away from my own physical pains and I’m able to escape them for a while. I care more about life in general. For me, personally, the benefits far outweigh the challenges and work involved in active participation.
Bottom line, the belief that I’m doing something to contribute to my life – and to the world in general – is important to me. I need to have a purpose for my pain. I find that purpose through my faith. My life’s mission will never be about running marathons – or even walking down the street in my own neighborhood. But, you know what? That’s ok! There are still things I CAN do! Things that, at least in my head, are much more important. Knowing that there really is a purpose for my pain/disappointment really does give me a reason to keep ‘going to work‘ everyday. The rewards don’t come in set, expected amounts at weekly (or even hourly) intervals, but they’re still absolutely there.
Would that drive in me change if I found out that God didn’t exist? Honestly, that’s not even a question to me. As Albert Camus has said, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.”
I’m not saying all this to convince anyone to believe as I do. What you personally believe is your business. But, if you don’t have a specific religious belief, I ask that you please be gentle with those of us that do. We may share special moments with you from our spiritual journey. But, that’s because we’re happy, excited, and want to share our personal victories with anyone who will care enough to listen. Whether you want to share in that joy or not is totally up to you. Whether you agree with our beliefs or not, being able to have that hope in something greater than ourselves may very well be the one thing some of us need to get through our own specific life’s challenges.