I know someone who became a Christian without cause. That’s the way he tells the story. He was driving down the road one day and pulled over and started crying and didn’t stop until he’d prayed out loud for the very first time. Until he asked God for help.
He said there was no precursor to this. He hadn’t been contemplating becoming religious. He wasn’t born into faith and he hadn’t been recently proselytized to. He had simply been saved like Paul on the road to Damascus. A hand reached down from the heavens and plucked him from one box (“non-believer”) and dropped him in another (“believer”). By the time I met him he had become devout.
It was a true religious experience.
I used to wake up every morning and start crying because I was going through a breakup. It was too much to lay in bed alone and think about an entire day stretching out in front of me in which I’d have to live with this breakup sized hole in me. It happened every morning, I left time for it in my schedule. I prayed really hard a few of those times. I wanted to be plucked up from this pathetic place I was and dropped down somewhere more hospitable.
It didn’t work.
There’s a scene in a very good Christmas movie, The Family Stone, where a character who works as an arts funder talked about seeing a piece of folk art in Alaska that had been carved by a fisherman who’d never made art in his life until he realized he was walking around feeling like he had a hole in his heart. He made the art to fill the hole. When the people in Alaska saw his art, they understood the hole that was inside him.
Sometimes I catch myself literally scrolling through Amazon looking for something that’s going to fix me. Maybe if I buy a new planner I will be able to organize my anxiety away. This book will show me the way out of my bad habits. A mud mask might make me feel whole, like a person who takes care of themselves and does all the things on her list and doesn’t have to constantly worry that she is somehow defective.
I spent so much time in my life thinking that I would feel whole if I just lost weight that every time I hear about someone who looks beautiful talking about how they are unhappy I have to stop and buy her book (or whatever) and figure out how the impossible could have happened.
I wonder if that man is still a Christian or if slowly a new hole grew in that spot where the other once had once been — the thing that caused him to pull off the freeway and cry. When you get saved, are you saved forever? Does God keep plucking you up and putting you where you are supposed to be?
In her song Acid Tongue Jenny Lewis sings
I went to a cobbler
To fix a hole in my shoe
He took one look at my face and said
“I can fix that hole in you.”
It’s hard to not hope each individual thing you encounter is perhaps the one thing in the universe that is going to climb down and take your head in its hands and whisper to you that they are the cure.