“So I sent an email to 7 of my friends, including Sarah, and I said, ‘Does anyone want to go see ‘Lost in Translation’ tonight?’ and then I sent an email immediately afterwards to the 6 of my friends who weren’t Sarah and I said, ‘NOT YOU.’”—John Green, on how he asked out his wife for the first time. (via imaginecomplexly)
I grew up a lot like Job, or perhaps more like one of his children, in a household nothing but stable emotionally, economically, and spiritually. I never struggled with school, I never messed with drugs or alcohol, and I never had problems with anyone. Like a lot of kids in my generation raised in a Christian home I grew up the typical Sunday school kid; I had all the Bible stories memorized long before I had the ability to understand their depth-head knowledge was good enough, by the time Sunday school turned into youth group I knew all the right answers and all the right choices. Because my life was blessed and I behaved, I fell into the vague idea that the two were indefinitely correlated- I thought being good was good enough. I was naive and I was ignorant, and any “relationship” I had was only a religion in my mind. In fifth grade my parents decided to put my sister and me in a private Christian school- much to my horror. As soon as my “friends” heard the news I was shunned (it’s strange, how vicious ten year olds can be), I was no longer an aid to their social endeavor and therefore no longer worth their effort. This story is only important in that, to my mind, it was the beginning of a pattern. I was continually stripped of what I desired most- relationships. It was what I measured my worth by, what I thought I needed (unlike Job and those in his time, I was never very concerned in material wealth- more so because I didn’t know enough about the lack of it to see its worth than because of any righteousness on my part). And yet, whenever I got close to someone, just as we came to that border that determined good friends and lifelong ones, by their choice or by means outside of their control they were suddenly ripped away. Jr. high was a strange three years of limbo between friends, by freshman year most of my friend group had dissipated to the four corners of high school cliques never to be reunited again, by sophomore year my two best friends that remained with me left the school because of a traumatic rumor. I was ruined, I couldn’t hold onto what mattered most to me, and I saw myself as worthless to people. Throughout all this I never rebelled against what I knew to be morally right, I was angry at those of the world that seemed to be tearing me apart and never even thought to blame God- mostly because I expected the world to give me the relationships I craved instead of seeking out a relationship with the one I claimed to be the cause of my salvation. I just saw God as the divine creator and gateway to heaven; as long as I knew the right stuff I was goo; He was just the God who was there. He wanted me to be good, and I was, and He didn’t have anything to do with something so small (and so important to me) as my personal life. But then I started talking to people about the depression that was gathering up inside me at the continual loss of human relationships that came and went like waves. And time and time again I was given the go to response of ‘it’s all in God’s plan for you.’ The more I heard it the more outraged I got; if God was good, and He ‘had a good plan for my life’ then why did ‘His plan’ seem so intent on taking away the things I saw as good and the people that would spur me on to being the good Christian I was supposed to be? Their responses weren’t answers and the hopelessness only seemed even more overwhelming if even God’s plan for me seemed to be for me to be alone. It was right around this time, and for the life of me I cannot explain it as anything other than a miracle of divine intervention, that I started to go to the youth group I’d avoided when times were good, and I really began to delve into the idea of a relationship with God. I wanted to know more about the relationship with this Jesus I’d always known about without actually knowing. And then, at an age were most of my friends were working on the Gospels, and at a time of development in my relationship with Christ where most would probably end up reading Hosea or Song of Songs, I somehow ended up doing a personal study on Job. I’m still not sure why I chose that book, maybe because I heard it was a depressing story and I felt depressed I thought it was fitting, but it changed my life. As the book started I felt a connection to Job, a strange sense of empathy even though I’d never gone through even half of what he had- but I knew what it felt like to be righteous, then feel alone and rejected. Before delving into the terrifying realm of confusing Old Testament language and wording, I read a brief study Bible summary of the book, so I was aware of the idea of Retribution Theology and the noted fact that Job’s friends’ thoughts on the matter were wrong for sticking to the idea that righteousness and prosperity were a in a reflexive relationship for individuals and that the theology worked forwards and backwards. So I was first confused, and then concerned, when the phrases they kept using were things that I’d clung to as wisdom for so long. That while I understood Job, his friends kept spitting my own conclusions of Sunday school back in my face. For me the book of Job contrasted my life at that point; the knowledge I had in my head of salvation, the right answers, and the idea that good was my goal verses understanding a relationship with God as a motivation to act in his ways. Then Elihu entered the scene, and the words that always stuck with me were 35:7-8 “If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself, and your righteousness sons of men.” I was struck by the fact that God had no reason to want us to be good- that His nature demanded we be perfect in order to have a relationship with Him, which is what He desires. That even when we are ‘righteous,’ when we grow up the good kid and don’t stumble with the ‘big’ moral sins we are still cut off from him by the darkness that is our imperfection. The entire ending of Job points to our need for a savior, the need for Christ to come, our own inability and lowliness contrasted with God’s entrance on the scene and depiction of his wondrous splendor that we cannot judge or comprehend. That us men who dwell in darkness cannot even stand in his counsel without being condemned, that we should be condemned and sent to hell for being imperfect and therefore a rebellion against God himself. We need the impossible intercessor- the God-man- to be a living sacrifice and to dwell in us, to stand in our place. Christ in us is the only hope of the glory of the grace that allows us to be in a relationship with God. My eyes had heard of Jesus and the wonders of his grace and the significance of his sacrifice, but through Job I saw for the first time the depth of it all, and I understood what was required to be righteous in the presence of God, and that I was merely dust and ashes. After reading Job my life wasn’t suddenly put on an upward spiral; I still battled with waves of melancholy and friends still left. But I had changed. And this was shown most clearly last year; I met a girl and over the course of the first semester we’d become best friends- and our relationship was centered around Christ and growing deeper and deeper in love with him. Second semester she had to leave Cedarville and go home, halfway across the country. It was sad, yes, but I didn’t lose that relationship with her- in fact, it’s grown even stronger since we’ve been physically separated. It’s all still centered on Christ- how he’s moving, how we can pray for each other and those we know, how our lives are changing- we love each other because of our relationship with God and His love in us and not because we can just fill some emotional need in a relationship tank. Our relationship doesn’t work because it makes us happy or because it’s easy- but because it’s all for God’s glory and birthed out of His love.
The ones depressed don't dress in black. The ones who believe they're fat don't announce it. The ones scared don't scream. The ones struggling don't show their scars. The ones hurting the most are the ones hidden.