Lately I’ve noticed that every week has a theme. A few weeks ago the theme was break-ups. A coworker was “dumped”—her words—by her boyfriend. That was a sad story because she is a dear person and many of us thought this was leading to something permanent.
A few days later a patient requested a chaplain because he wanted to discuss breaking up with his boyfriend. Actually what he really wanted was to role play. I was game so he broke up with me several times. Each time he got a little better—more grounded, relaxed and confident. After the fourth or fifth time I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt depressed and started to think of reasons why we should stay together.
The theme this week was, “This doesn’t make sense!”
A perfectly healthy 45 year-old man suddenly struck by a rare disease, then a bacterial infection, then a fungal infection, then kidney failure, then immune system shut down, then a stroke. “This doesn’t make sense,” his wife says shaking her head.
A picture perfect pregnancy that suddenly goes awry. The baby lives, the mother dies. “This just doesn’t make sense,” the father says through clenched teeth.
A young man doing great on the road to recovery, joins a church, goes to meetings, suddenly overdoses on Fentanyl. His mother finds his body. “It’s just doesn’t make sense,” she sobs.
Sense is way overrated. Expecting life to “make sense” is a good way to be miserable. So much of life doesn’t make sense. Look at the Scriptures.
Job, a righteous man, his ten children die, he is covered with boils, abandoned by friends. It doesn’t make sense.
Elizabeth: too old to conceive but she does! It doesn’t make sense.
Son of God: the Light of the World, born in a manger! It doesn’t make sense.
Speaking of Jesus, he is one of the most non-sensical characters in the whole Bible. He heals with mud, walks on water, multiplies fish and loaves of bread. He preaches and teaches and loves everyone. They crucify him. None of that make sense.
Asking for sense is not a helpful question in any of these situations. The better question is, “How can I/we be transformed by this?” Ultimately that is what happened with the disciples. They were transformed by the non-sense of Jesus.
Even in the midst of vicious grieving, I have witnessed people offering their already broken hearts to transformation. It takes courage, but not the strong-fist kind of courage, but the open-palm kind of courage, a trusting courage. A letting go.
And we must not forget that there are lots of lovely things that don’t make sense.
An owl on the road in broad daylight and when you approach to help, it swoops up with such speed and grace and beauty, it takes your breath away. An owl at noon? It doesn’t make sense.
Those painted rocks you see in random places all over your neighborhood? Doesn’t make sense.
Calling a chaplain to practice breaking up? That doesn’t make sense. But it did transform me. After that encounter I went back to my coworker who suffered the breakup and gave her a hug. “I feel for you,” I said. “I really do.”
“Oh, thanks,” she said. “I guess you’ve been through it yourself.”
“You have no idea.”