Why Does God Allow Trials? (pt. 1)

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

The first time I really, honestly questioned God’s existence was when I was 18 and facing a rough spot in life, a trial. My trial was mostly internal and invisible. At the time, I wished I had been crippled or had cancer or something, anything that someone else might be able to see from the outside. I hated the fact that people could look at me and think, “She has it pretty good!”

I went through a long trial, and I was a Christian, so I prayed. I prayed things like, “God, I know you’re there, so please help me,” and like, “God, I’m not asking you to change my circumstance. Just help me through it. Please. I need you.”

But I felt nothing as I prayed. And I felt nothing after I prayed. And I saw no sign of any supernatural help from God.

I thought I wasn’t believing hard enough or wasn’t living perfectly enough, so I put more effort into doing the right things and praying the right way and believing harder because that’s what was supposed to help. Eventually, though, I crossed a line and allowed myself to consider something else.

My rationality became: If God exists, I believe He has to be the God of the Bible. I believe He is everything the Bible says He is. Therefore, God must be holy, just, omniscient, omnipotent, merciful, and loving – all these things I’ve always believed Him to be. I don’t doubt that He is those things. But a loving God wouldn’t do this to me. If God exists and loves me, He would be helping me, not ignoring me. I’ve been pleading for a year, and nothing has happened. There’s no chance that God is simply not those things; therefore I have to conclude that maybe God doesn’t exist at all.

After I figured that out, I started calling myself agnostic. I stopped going to church. Stopped praying. Let down my guard and my standards. Went about my life as best as I could without God. (For a time.)

A Girl Overweight (Part 1)

I have a confession.

I’ve been trying to write about my struggle with my weight and food for a long time. When I say a long time, I mean at least 2 years. I mean almost since the beginning of this blog.

I’ve been trying to write a good summary of all my problems and how I overcame them or at least how I planned to overcome them, but the truth is that I don’t know if I ever will.

I’m not just overweight. By all accepted standards, I’m technically obese. I may always be. I don’t want to be, but I can’t promise a radical change at this point.

I’m someone who works from home, who plays computer games and Xbox games, who watches Netflix for hours on end, and whose favorite hobbies are “artistic.” Art isn’t usually very active, unless you’re talking about dance, and while I do enjoy dancing, I’m not a dancer. I’m sedentary. Even when I fight against it and get into a routine of regular active, I’m still a mostly sedentary person. And I eat. I eat when I’m bored and when I’m sad and when I’m stressed and when I’m not-sober.

And here’s the honest truth. Here’s where I am right now. Here’s my real confession. I absolutely hate my body.

I’m not saying that to get sympathy. Believe me, that’s not the goal. I’m not even saying it to beat myself up, nor to motivate myself to change. I just have been trying to write about this for so long, and I’ve been trying to convey a “good” message, and I’ve been trying to change the way I think and feel to fit the way I want to write about my struggle. I’ve been trying to write about it, but not just tell the truth about it. The truth is I positively HATE my body, hate the fact that I’m fat, hate how much I eat.

I mean, seriously, I cry about it. I cry at the most random times. Even if I’m eating healthy food, while hungry, I will sometimes cry over the guilt of the fact that I’m eating at all. I mean, I feel like I don’t even deserve to feed myself.  And I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that way, but it’s just horrible.

I want to be different. I want to lose weight. I want to have a healthy body and a healthy body image. I hope that some day soon I can write part two of this story and explain how I started to make positive strides. But every journey starts somewhere. Wherever I end up going from here, I just thought it was worth documenting my beginning.

Don’t worry. This isn’t going to become a weight-loss journal. I just needed to get this off my chest. And, now, I’m going to post it before I have a chance to back out.michy 24th bday

Spoons

Christine Miserandino wrote an article about a metaphor she used to explain her chronic illness (Lupus) to a friend. The metaphor was called The Spoon Theory. You should read it if you haven’t already. Please, go read it. It is interesting and eye-opening, and it will shed a lot of light on the rest of this post, too.

As I read Christine’s article, I was surprised how much I felt my own eyes were being opened. At first I thought, yeah, she’s ill, and she’s fatigued, and she has to think more about things that much of the world takes for granted. I knew that. I didn’t think I’d be learning too much, but I really wanted to see how the spoons came into play. As she got into the metaphor/comparison/whatever, I started to feel a little twinge of guilt. I thought I knew it all, but some of those things were catching me off-guard. It brought up emotions I didn’t expect to feel. It surprised me. I came away with a deeper understanding and sympathy, and I also began to form an idea for how I might be able to explain at least one aspect of Asperger’s to those who don’t have any experience with it.

I thought about changing the name and the metaphor around more, but I want to stick with Christine’s idea of the spoon theory because she should really get the credit for the creativity. I don’t want to change it to forks and distance myself from her original thought. Or whatever. So here we have The Reverse Spoon Theory – Too Many Spoons.

Here’s the background: you have an Autism spectrum disorder, but you are considered “high-functioning.” You work from home, you live alone with your cat, and you’re going through a stressful time. You can pick the stressor. Maybe you just found out you’re pregnant. Maybe you’re separated from your spouse. Maybe a friend or parent is terminally ill. Maybe you are about to lose your apartment and you have to move right away.

Yesterday was a bad day for you, and you got to bed late. You were exhausted and stressed, so you didn’t sleep well, and you had bad dreams. Come this morning, you wake up to your alarm tired and grumpy, and you have six spoons in your hand already. You know that every action you take today could land you with another (one or more) spoon(s), so you must choose wisely what you will do.

You shut off your alarm and throw back the covers and manage to get out of bed. Maybe the first thing you do once you’re up is get dressed. A blue button-up shirt catches your eye, and you put that on. It has a big brown stain right in the middle, and you know you have a video call this morning for work and a trip to the store to make later, so that won’t do. There’s another spoon for you to hold on to. Stinks because it was a comfy shirt, too. You throw it on your bed and search the closet. Two more spoons in hand because you can’t seem to decide which outfit to wear. Finally, you throw on another outfit. As soon as you get it on, you know it was a mistake, because the way the collar is rubbing on your neck is driving you crazy and you feel so constrained that you can’t even move. You’re holding on to 10 spoons now as you try to undo the tiny buttons, but you’re getting anxious so it takes much longer than it should. Now, you throw that shirt on the bed and start the process all over. Eleven spoons. twelve spoons. The longer you stand there, the more spoons you get. You find a comfortable t-shirt and throw it on, deciding you can always change later – at least you’re dressed.

Leaving the discarded outfits on the bed, you move on with your morning. It’s just about time to get to work, which simply means getting your computer running. Hopefully, it will be a good day. An easy day. You could use an easy day.

Fifteen spoons now jingle in your pockets as you sit down at the computer and find a grumpy email from a client that gets you down. Then you have to make a phone call where you get stuck on hold, passed around to 4 different representatives, and finally end up with someone who refuses to help and says there’s no supervisor for you to speak with and eventually hangs up on you because you accidentally started to yell because you have a hard time controlling your voice. By the time you hang up, you have 20 spoons altogether, and what’s more you’re shaking and your face is red and you realize, suddenly, that you forgot to eat anything for breakfast.

As lunch time approaches, you’re starting to feel a bit sick, and you have 20 spoons in your pockets and 5 more in your hands. Simple things start to become more difficult. They require more concentration and effort. Lunch time arrives, but you can’t cook lunch. You can’t cook because the frying pans are all dirty and the sink is full so you can’t wash them and there are no clean bowls so you can’t eat cereal or soup and the sink is full so you can’t wash any bowls and you’re so hungry you feel sick but you can’t wash any dishes but you’re hungry and you can’t cook lunch or prepare anything because the sink is full and all the counters and tables are full.and on and on. For each time you think the same loop, you gain a spoon or two, until both your pockets and your hands are full, and you know  you can’t take much more.

Don’t think. Whatever you do, don’t think about the clothes on the bed or the dirty litter box. One thing at a time.

Just before you lose it, instinct kicks in, and you start to stim. You start flapping your hands and pacing around on tiptoe. A few spoons disappear, to your relief, and you are finally realizing that you simply have to clean some dishes or you’ll be stuck forever.

You get in to the dirty sink and rearrange some dishes, getting your hands dirty but managing to get just enough space cleared out so you can wash a pot and make some ramen for lunch. You eat it, and you lose another few spoons. You can breathe again, even though you gain back a couple spoons when you go to put the bowl in the sink and catch sight of the pile of dirty dishes that you know you can’t tackle right now.

What will you do with the rest of your day? You still have over 20 spoons, and you can only hold so many. The problem is that any number of things can add spoons:

  • a messy environment
  • an annoying “feeling” (from your clothes, hair on your neck, moistness, light touch, grit underfoot, the button on your pants)
  • certain sounds (types of music, a piercing voice, snoring, ticking clocks, someone clearing his throat, coughing, too much bass)
  • bright lights
  • not enough light
  • forgetting something simple
  • getting stuck in a loop (like the lunch situation)
  • being hungry
  • having to repeat yourself
  • having to ask others to repeat themselves
  • being in a crowd
  • going shopping
  • making decisions
  • trying on clothes
  • chaotic environments

If you get into enough bad situations, you will end up with simply more spoons than you can carry. Then it just takes one more. A wrong look, a complaint from someone, a stray thought. You may be home alone, or walking the dog, or at Walmart, or in front of your parents / kids / spouse / friends / strangers.

If just one more spoon appears, you drop them all. Your pockets rip apart. You lose it, and you are suddenly unable to see or focus on anything but your spoons. You know where each on e came from, and they’re all laid out in front of you. You will very likely lose the ability to form sentences or even words, so forget trying to explain to anyone around why you’re freaking out. For the duration of your meltdown, you’re pretty much incapable of doing anything productive. If you’re like me, you’ll be bawling the whole time, but it’s slightly different for everyone. There do not need to be tears for it to be a meltdown.

Meltdowns feel a little like what I imagine a panic attack to feel like. A little. Anyway, it’s terrible, especially if you’re in public.

You may think you’re free & clear after a meltdown since you dropped all your spoons – not so. It has a lasting effect, and you come away with a lot of spoons back in hand. Not quite as many, but you’re already well on your way to the next meltdown. Spoons multiply like that.

Christina, who wrote the original spoon theory, has a trick for dealing with a spoon shortage: she always keeps a spare tucked away. For me, the problem is an abundance, and the trick I have had to learn in that situation is to keep the numbers down consistently. I’ve got to recognize if I’m on an upward trend and catch myself long before I reach the breaking point. If I wait too long, it will be too late. I’ve got to find things to do and ways to think that break the trend and bring the number of spoons down to a manageable handful. I may need to “veg out” in front of the TV, nap, vent, or have some time with my current “special interest.” I may need to stim or do something creative or change my environment. None of these will work every time, so I also have to know when to do which thing to manage my spoons.

It’s a challenge, and this is far from the perfect way to explain it. but I thought I’d try, anyway. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on the matter, so please share them in the comments section below. Smile