I recognize this post will be about a visit to the hospital, and perhaps should be a Fantastic Aplastic post, but I think it is about more than that. Specifically, the unending number of hospital staff who make sure to tell me that "God has a plan for you."
Hello?! What the f*ck does that mean exactly? Do you hear what you are telling me? Really?
Seriously. God's plan is that f*ckwits the world over are to be healthy, happy and thriving but I (an albeit snarky but trying-to-be a good person) am to be facing a life-threatening disease with the potential of not seeing my daughter grow up? If that is the case, please tell me who I speak to in God's Planning Department, so I can register my total dissatisfaction with His work to date.
I don't want to diminish anyone's else's belief in such a Plan. But, much like when someone close to you dies and you come over time to see that perhaps it is better that they are not suffering, etc, it is really a conclusion that you--the bereaved--have to reach on your own. Someone telling you a day after your kid dies that he's in "a better place now" is barbarically presumptuous if not outright cruel. It's a conclusion that only the affected person can arrive at, if that's where they need to get to. To have someone else tell you such a thing, based on their own belief system, is simply not appropriate or necessary.
Same with diseases, chronic, life-threatening or otherwise. YOU don't tell me that this is God's Plan for me. Who the hell are YOU? Have you chatted with Him recently? Did He tell you something he's been avoiding telling me? And are you seriously telling me that God decided that I should be sick and you should be healthy? Are you TRYING to sound like an a**hole?
I recognize that in many religious traditions, specifically the varied Christian ones practiced by many of the staff at the hospital, there is a belief that "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" and that "He has a plan; this is all part of His plan and we don't get to know why this happens." I recognize that for those who believe that, the notion brings tremendous comfort; a comfort they are attempting to offer me. But here's the problem: I don't believe that at all. And even if I did, it would not be for Mrs. Phlebotomist to tell me what she thinks is God's Plan for me, would it?
From where I sit, if there is to be meaning found in any of life's dramas, heartaches, hurts and tragedies, it is to be found in what we do in the aftermath. There is no reason I have this disease; there is no meaning in the situation in and of itself. It's just life, and this is my and my family's thing to deal with, just as others have different, better or far worse things to deal with in their own lives. There is no Plan that gave me a disease. And if you tell me there is, we are gonna fight. The only meaning to be found is in how I/we handle it, what we learn from it, how we live better or differently or more exuberantly or more compassionately because of it. But there are any number of ways to teach someone that, short of a life-threatening disease, and I choose to believe that the God I believe in doesn't torture humans for the sake of some Global Strategic Plan outlined in a celestial powerpoint slideshow. Which is ironic, considering that we Jews are supposed to believe in the "Old Testament vengeful God" and the ladies at the hospital believe in the "New Testament forgiving God." So why is it that their view of God seems so much more vengeful than mine? In my head, He is guilty of--at most--benign neglect. Setting all these wheels in motion and then letting it all happen according to chance and luck and the laws of nature...and then seeing what we do with it. If I believe that He is actually at the helm, skippering this whole Good Ship Bedlam, then I have to believe that he's either terribly cruel or incompetent or both.
Which is not to denigrate anyone else's religious convictions. I'm not attempting to have a theological discussion or to weigh one religion against another. I'm just saying that in the United States in 2007 it's good to be mindful that the "witnessing" you think you're doing, the comfort you think you're giving, based on your religious beliefs, can actually do more harm than good. I used to like chatting with the ladies at the hospital, but as I've clearly gotten sicker their efforts to tell me to "give it up to God" have gotten more frequent, and I now just say "thanks" and count the minutes till my blood is taken and I can mercifully leave. I have my own religion, I have my own sense of what This All Means, and I appreciate the attempted kindness but despise the assumptions behind it.
My only consolation is knowing that it was part of God's Plan for you that you be stuck reading my rant today on a blog. But don't worry, I hear his Planning Department is open for complaints. :)