Little Things

5 minutes, 3 seconds

It’s no secret that I have been having a hard semester. With so many bad things happening, I even took to reading the Bible again. Not because I’ve suddenly turned to God where I wasn’t before. God and I have been on pretty good terms for a long time. I don’t go to church, but we’ve talked and I think he knows that it isn’t any lack of devotion that keeps me at home instead of praising his name in front of a whole bunch of people. I have always felt like church services were more like a performance than a personal discussion with our divine creator. 

All the suffering reminded me of the book of Job, which is really one of the few books that I remember distinctly because it tells a thought-provoking story. When I read it last, it was a story about God taking a dare given by the devil that one of his loyal followers wouldn’t be so loyal if he weren’t so successful and blessed by God. I felt like it was a horrible story. I didn’t like the idea that anyone thrown out of heaven could manipulate God into maltreating a loyal follower and his family. 

It wasn’t until after I lost my brother and found out how sick my mother was, that I thought of the book again. I wondered if I was Job and why God would be goaded again. I wasn’t angry, which almost hurt even more. I was wounded, unlucky. Had I done something wrong? I was honestly afraid to pray for anyone because maybe I was cursed and my prayer would further along someone’s death. 

So when my oldest brother died, I read the book again. I’m not saying that it changed. I am saying that I read things that I didn’t notice the first time. On a second read, God didn’t punish Job on a dare with Lucifer. Job and his friends who came to visit him after his losses were all under different impressions of why the bad things were happening. Everything from assuming Job must have done something bad to be punished for, to maybe he wasn’t doing the right things to be rewarded. But ultimately when Job asked God why, God said it wasn’t any of those things. Good things and bad things aren’t done as a reward or as a punishment. They are simply at the grace of God. 

I felt like it was an important revelation but I still didn’t understand what that meant. The dark cloud over my family made the air hard to breathe. Mom was getting sicker and sicker and not able to hold a conversation much less plan a funeral so it was up to my sister and me. The pressure of how badly Mom was doing and how we didn’t have enough money to pay for her impending funeral much less his was getting to me. Family kept calling and asking when we wanted them to meet up after or before the funeral and it took all I had to get my Mom ready. I kept thinking about how I would survive the next semester: fifteen credit hours, less financial aid, bills up to my neck and either a mother to feed three meals a day or a funeral to pay on. I worried that I couldn’t finish school and take care of mom while working how many hours it would take to pay bills and my portion of rent on the house. 

All of it mixed together with the guilt that while I loved my older brother and would give anything to keep him alive, I had worried about him relentlessly. He hadn’t been right since his stroke seven months before and had been spending money by the thousands and was about to lose his home. He had been lucid enough to disqualify himself for disability but he was unable to work and without me checking his pill planner, he wouldn’t even remember to medicate himself. His death made me feel horrible for being relieved. I never admitted to feeling burdened and he made it clear often that what he did with his life was his own responsibility, but family is family. I was being swallowed alive and I was still thinking about Job and what the grace of God meant.

We finally got my mom up and into the car to go to the funeral her phone rang.  My brother’s previous employer had sensed things were not right and kept paying his life insurance. Pending his death certificate, my brother will have left enough to pay for Mom’s funeral, get me out of debt, pay for Mom’s insurance premiums starting in January and still collect interest in the bank. We all cried in relief and sorrow. 

The next week we finally convinced Mom to go to the emergency room. Her kidneys were failing because she hadn’t been eating or drinking. If she had refused one more night, she would have died. Trying to convince a grieving woman who isn’t in her right mind that she wasn’t eating and drinking enough when she would throw up every time she did was hard. She was there for a week and every day was rapid improvement. When she finally came home this Thursday, she was Mom again. Her appetite is back, her kidneys are working and somehow her biliary bag is draining on its own. (The masses in her liver were blocking the drains before.) Somehow, I’m still too afraid to hope that the masses have broken down or that she’ll live longer than they proposed, but I feel unburdened. I finally understand what it means to live by the grace of God and what it means to have faith. It means letting go and being thankful for the little things.