What Makes Me Important

For several years after I became a Christian, I worried a lot about my mission in life. I felt it was no longer enough to use my abilities in the way that made me happy. God had rescued me from some very dark times in my life, so I felt obligated to respond — perhaps not to “deserve” it, which would be impossible, but to show that I was grateful and to try to act like someone worth saving. This is a surefire recipe for writer’s block if one focuses on making the outcome worthwhile, as opposed to seeking God in the process, as I’m just now beginning to do.

Anyway, I used to be anxious that if God did have a secret destiny planned for me, it would either be something really unpleasant involving Third World standards of hygiene, or something that made my individuality completely irrelevant. What if all this writing, thinking, relating, etc. were beside the point, and my sole reason for being here was to drop the banana peel that the Antichrist slipped on?

Well, maybe it is, but I no longer think that would be such a bad thing. In the Old Testament, there are several troubling stories where God seems to be killing large groups of people in order to make a point to the ones left alive. Not all of these people are personally guilty of anything, such as the infants in Jericho. This sort of thing fed my fears for a long time till it suddenly occurred to me: We all have to die. It’s not as if we’re entitled to a default state of happiness or immortality. In that case, there are worse ways to go than being used by God to save others.

One of the main themes of my novel-in-progress is this often humorous, random way that people’s destinies can interact, so that our attempts at virtue may alienate us from one another, while our vices may ultimately bring us down the only road that leads to reconciliation. We can’t engineer this paradox from the outset: “Let us sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” says St. Paul. It simply happens, and reminds us not to think we know our own or others’ worth in God’s eyes. I love the 19th-century novels that are so full of these providential coincidences (Dickens and Victor Hugo were especially fond of them); whereas in the modern secular novel, the failure of our self-made meanings often ends in despair, not grace.

A good article on this topic can be found on the Hasidic website Chabad.org here.

5 comments on “What Makes Me Important

  1. Alegria Imperial says:

    Too many threads in your thoughts strike me to the core. I, too, have been struggling to know what God has me in for, where He sends me blindfolded, why I’m doing what I’m doing unknowing unfeeling often unaware I’m already doing it. I’ve always envied people who seem to have their destinies in their hands, who know exactly what they want and need to do. I’ve never felt that way about the labyrinth I seem to have been thrown into and in which I’ve been wandering about. Yet in all this uncertainty, one thing I’ve done consistently is to trust but not always easily. I have to search and dig in ways with which to trust. This much I’ve learned: that each morning I wake up is as fresh as all beginnings that must, however, ripen with the hours and must end or be ready to fall at night. In sleep, which I believe is God’s most merciful time, He fixes up for whatever I’ve done or didn’t do, cleansing another rising for me. I feel that I live my life, thus, only half knowing, if at all, with the other half of God’s. Since I’ve faced each day with this epiphany, trust, better yet, faith ceased to be a void. Thank you for generously sharing yourself. Thank you for being the clear reflection of thought for others. And most of all, thank you for your critique of my poem, “Light as Magic”.

  2. Jendi Reiter says:

    Alegria’s lovely poem ran in the December 2006 issue of the Winning Writers newsletter and can be read here. Thanks for your inspiring testimony above! It is so hard, but necessary, to be willing to proceed step by step, in faith, not seeing too far ahead.

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