My church just did a sermon series about Jonah. It's agonizing to look deeply into the story of Jonah for me because in doing so I'm forced to see the things that have driven me and continue to drive me.
Jonah had a calling. It was simple. He was supposed to go to a big scary city and tell the people there to turn to God. He decided he wouldn't go and that he had a better plan. He took off in the other direction. En route he got swallowed by a fish. After the fish spit him out he went and did his assigned task. He got the lesson that God was trying to teach him, right? Nope. He preaches in the city and they repent and instead of rejoicing at God's mercy, he goes and sulks. He hates that these people, whom he doesn't even know, get to be spared. He writhes in agony in the desert, wishing for death under the hot sun. What is striking to me is Jonah's affinity for putting himself in these life-threatening, miserable places when it seems there is always a more pleasant and suitable alternative. When on the boat he could have said, "God, I'm sorry please forgive me, the sailors will turn the boat around, I'll go do your work now." Nope, he says,"This is my fault and I will pay the price. Toss me overboard. Save yourselves." When the city is saved he could have celebrated with them and rejoiced. Nope. He crawls out into the desert and pouts, waiting in vain for the city to get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment. He hates them from afar, even though he has been the instrument of their salvation.
The book of Jonah is short. Only four chapters. The last chapter is about Jonah conversing with God about his anger. God asks him if he does well to be angry and Jonah answers,"Yes, angry enough to die." The dude is so angry he wants to cease. And why? Because God grew a plant over his head to shade him and then God killed it the next day. He was angry because a plant died? This bit confused me in an unnerving way for the majority of the series. It finally made sense when I realized the common factor between the two instances that Jonah tried to commit suicide. The common denominator is his pride. Jonah's twisted logic: he rages at the destruction of a soulless plant and doesn't bat an eye at his own self abuse. He tries to carry his own burden then blames God for the pain he suffers when he finds he cannot bear the load. Rather than swallow his pride and accept freedom from his self-inflicted chains, he persists in paying his way. This results in a self-hatred so severe that he wishes for death.
Oh the pain of learning Jonah's story. I am so much like him that it seems he lived only to show me how God isn't baffled by my indignance. This weekend I have done so much harm to the people that God has used me to help. I have seen God's power work through me in the lives of my dear friends. Alas, my own inability to accept grace for myself has turned me into a jealous prick. I don't know how to explain the pathology of how I got to the place I am at, but I know that it is a bad place. I'm angry enough to die. Somehow the burden that I had lain on Jesus has crept on to my back again. I have prayed three time in the last 24 hours for God to let me die. The future looks bleak to me. I can only anticipate more of this torment and I don't know how I'm ever going to make through, never mind why God would want me to. I can say all the things I know I'm supposed to say, but I would just be parroting.
I wept in church again. I cried and cried and this time it didn't feel good. I didn't take communion. I sat there wallowing in dissociated self-pity afterword. I tried to go home but only got the first stoplight and turned back toward the church, hoping again. I found Travis and we went to pizza. I was insufferable and vicious to Travis and Laurie as they tried to cheer me up, and tell me all the right things to do. I tried my best not to bite their faces off. We left and Travis asked for the millionth time what was wrong and I told him not to worry about it. Perfect 10 on the self-pity maximizer. I struggled to not abuse his care for me although all I wanted to do was tell him to fuck off. I said something similar to Katie last night, although I think there was much more transference from my mom in her case. I'm sick of playing the strong one, the leader. I wanted it, and now I despise those who gave it to me.
Travis's face looked like the kid in "Old Yeller" when he realized that Old Yeller wanted to hurt him.
I am a hateful monster at my core. I need to be healed or put down.