The definition of taboo (adjective) is “prohibited or restricted by social custom, or ‘designated as sacred and prohibited’. There are two subjects prevalent in our world today that are rarely discussed with others unless you know where they stand. I suppose you could call it a safe zone and not overstepping boundaries by not discussing politics and religion (or my Faith as I like to think of it).
Why are we so reluctant to discuss our Faith or our thoughts on politics? I could not give a definite answer except for the usual words of describing why I probably don’t discuss it: fear of offending, taboo, unsafe, risky, opinionated, and unethical. Who and when was it decided it was politically incorrect to talk about these things? The one closest to my heart is Faith.
It was while on the phone with one of my best friends, discussing an upcoming surgery I was to have, and which I was struggling with, that Pat said to me, “Nanc, you need to read The Shack, by William P. Young.” I’d never heard of The Shack and I wondered at the time what this book had to do with my struggling with surgery on my finger. My days were busy and I didn’t think much about it for some time.
For background purposes, I have a condition called Dupuytren’s contracture. It is where a cord in the palm of the hand thickens and begins to pull the finger’s downward. After two unsuccessful surgeries several years apart, there was no other recourse except to amputate the finger.
I’m not one who likes to miss work. I always think of all these “what ifs”? I had several conversations in my mind and finally decided, No, I needed to do this now. I was tired of the finger getting in the way of everything I did. I could no longer put my hand in my pocket, or slip a glove on without having to work the glove on the bent finger first. I was accustomed to typing using the ring finger, so that wasn’t a big deal. What was annoying was how often I had to click the caps lock because the finger always hit that key. When picking up a glass or cup, I would often drop it. Little things we take for granted was frustrating with the finger as it was.
For whatever reason, it was very difficult for me to tell anyone I had to have my finger amputated. When I did say something to family or coworkers, their reaction was shock. I finally quit saying anything about it, and on March 10, 2008 I had the surgery. I asked myself why I had such a difficult time telling anyone that I was having my finger amputated? Big deal. What was it about the amputation of a little finger that seemed more traumatic than when I’d had a radical mastectomy 20 years ago? Even the reaction from others was that of disbelief. Was it because it was so visual? I’m usually an open book so why was this different? Nothing usually bothers me.
That led me back to my conversation I had with my friend, Pat. I looked up “The Shack” and decided to buy and download the audio book. This was my first audio book and I wasn’t sure I’d like it.
As it turned out, the narrator of the “The Shack” was excellent! As I listened to the audio book, I heard myself talking to my kids, and grandkids, and husband, with everything the book “said”. I have always maintained there is a reason for everything and we often do not know why something happens, but a Higher Power knows. This book reiterated everything I’d ever thought about. It put into perspective, and in clearer format, my thoughts on the “Why’s” of life.
God has been in my life since I was a little girl when I used to sit on my grandfather’s lap and read the King James Bible to him. Did I understand it? No! I could barely sound out the words. However, I just knew He was there. It was not until 1994 that I really understood the meaning of “God is within you”. It isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a growing and understanding of what it is like to have Jesus in your heart, and what is so awesome is the growing and understanding of our God and his Son, never stops. Oh yes, there were many stumbling blocks and rocky roads in my life, but I always knew whatever was happening would turn out OK. There were times I questioned what was going on in my life, but in my deepest, innermost thoughts, I knew there was a reason and God was working in my life.
While listening to The Shack two quotes stayed with me: “Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved.” That word “Trust.” Why is it that when I think of Trust, I think of trusting myself to get something done, to fix it, or trusting in my husband to fix it? I always associated that word with a physical being or thought. Why are we so skeptical of something we can’t physically touch or see? Why not REALLY Trust in God to take care of everything in my life? I profess to be a Christian, why do I let the human aspect of me take control of all things? The other quote that made me think was, “When all you can see is the pain, maybe that is when you lose sight of me.” I definitely had some thinking to do.
The book summarized so much of my internal feelings and thoughts, which I had never been able to put into words. It made me realize that everything that happens in life, all the stress I live with on a daily basis, I don’t have to have that stress, but I choose to hang on to it. It’s really all just “small stuff.” What I need to do is to “let it go, give it to God.” In life’s big picture, all the little things, all the “stuff”, it does not matter.
We, as humans, are the ones who hang on to the adverse thoughts, the control, the wants, and the “stuff”. One of the hardest things in life, I found, was letting my kids grow up. I wanted to protect them from being hurt. Unfortunately, they have to go through the same growing up process as we did. Part of growing up is having those stumbling blocks that make us grow. One stumbles, you get back up, and continue on. It is about letting go … it’s a never-ending cycle through life. Letting go of things at work, relationships, kids, and friends. In every aspect of our life, we have that word “control”. We think, “If only I could do this, or that, I could make it better”. The problem is, you can’t always fix it. What you can do is learn to let it go and give it over to God. How you believe, or think something should be resolved is not necessarily what God has in mind.
It is our human culture that has decided what is taboo. Why might talking about a person’s religious beliefs or Faith offend someone? Why does NOT talking about it not offend someone? As I said previously, “Who and when was it decided it was politically incorrect to talk about these things?” After reading, The Shack, I think it is the “human” aspect of our minds, our social upbringing, and our culture.
I come back to the fact that there is no right or wrong way of how one perceives the political direction of our country. It comes back to, “Looking at the big picture of life, its all small stuff.” In the end it does not matter. What does matter is what you do, or how you react to all the “small stuff” of life. Do you hang on to your anger, stress, and insecurities in everything you do or hear, or do you relinquish the things you have no power to control?
This wonderful book, “The Shack”, has touched my life beyond expectations. It was the reading of The Shack that helped me overcome the feelings of inadequacy and helplessness, and deal with the finger issue. It has helped me to grow spiritually and to realize I am not in control of my life. I am in control of how I react and letting God work his miracles. Yes, life is good and God has been good to me!
There is no doubt we are a country in trouble, but there are some things I have no power over. All I can do is set an example to my family and friends and continually remind myself, with God’s help, to “let it go, give it to God”. To “Trust in Him” that all will be taken care of. It is my Faith in God that has enabled me to have a positive outlook, no matter what I was going through, and I can breeze through all the “small stuff”, whatever direction He leads me. I need to let Him do his job.
With God’s help I will continue to stay out of my “safe zone”, and let others know how God has worked in my life.
Nancy L. Spoolman