by Joe Kletz
Quite some time ago I hit a pretty rough patch. For some odd reason, I was struck with an incredible amount of depression and feelings of worthlessness. My shoulders have always been large, available to all those I call friends to cry on. However, there’s also a cross on those shoulders, one I bear with the utmost disdain. It seems that when you’re the guy people come to with problems, you invariably have some yourself. However, everyone seems to think that you don’t, and thus, you have no shoulders to cry on.
So here I am, sitting in the dark on my hallway floor, crying. Not the kind of crying a man does when he slices off a finger while building a cabinet, nor the tears of a man after watching “The Dirty Dozen”. These were big, gooey sobs of helplessness. Unable to do anything. Somehow, I got and went to the bookshelf. For some strange reason I picked up my Bible. Now, I’m no Bible-thumper, and I in fact have a few friends who, over recent years, become one of those people. They preach and attempt to convert. I do believe in God (or at least the idea of God) and know a good deal of theology, both from private schooling as a child, and personal study in my later years. I opened the Bible to a random page and decided to just read it…again, I had no idea why.
I ended up in, I believe, Psalms. There, the first thing I read, was a letter to God from a man in prison. It basically was this fella crying out to the Lord about why his life is so terrible, why does he cry every night, and why is his heart so full of pain. The response was something truly original…”Be strong for I am with you always”. Yes, it’s nothing new, but I felt a connection to that guy. Why am I crying every night? Why is my heart so full of pain?
It scared the shit out of me.
I read another passage, again, at random, from the Book of Judges. This one took a little more “reading into”, but again, connection. Here, God’s people are trying to take a fort of their enemies. And they keep losing. God keeps telling them (God talked to people quite a bit back then) to try again. “Send 20,000 troops.” Failure. “Send 30,000 troops.” Failure. Eventually, they took the castle and all were happy as the will of the Lord did smote his enemies. Failure upon failure, but eventual success. Wow.
Now I was no longer crying, but questioning my faith. There were no burning bushes in my home, no crying statues, but the part of me that grew up religious said “This could be a sign.” The cynic shouted “If God’s talking to you, where’s the thunder and lightning?” The disbeliever screamed “It’s just a coincidence!” The fearful me said “Close the book and pretend it didn’t happen.” The pious Joe whispered “That IS a sign, that’s all you’re getting…USE IT.” But they were all drowned out by the Fool, who just writes about.