Thursday, June 12, 2008

God-talk volume control--a rant

My lovely mother is very very close to dying, and I've been hanging out at her house yesterday evening and today.

Various people have been hanging out there as well--some of them members of her FOO (that's "family of origin", for the uninitiated), and others old friends. *All* of them, so far, seem to be falling into one of two categories, in terms of their reactions:

1. People who turn up the control knob on something I call "God-talk" to maximum.
2. People who don't do that.

The split is about 50/50.

The God-talk people *seem* to be very uncomfortable with silence. My mom, who is largely unresponsive/half-asleep much of the time, isn't *visibly* able to respond to what people are saying when she's in that state. My inclination in response to her when she's like that is to be quiet and present. The God-talk people's inclination is to direct God talk at her. I find I can't cope with that, so I have to leave the room, wait for them to leave the room, then I can go back and be quiet. That or say something to them about it. But if I were to attempt to say something to them, it would come out with a lot of attached anger and sarcasm and other things that really don't have anything to do with them. So i refrain. There it is.

I wish I had some psychic control of their God-talk volume knob. I'd turn it right down.

One thing I've noticed is that the presence of the people from category 1 above makes me incredibly grateful for, and rather full of general good feelings toward, the people in category 2. So I go complain to the category 2 people about the God-talk, where/when the category 1 people can't hear, and they seem to generally identify with my frustration.

Meanwhile I find myself mentally writing drafts for my comments at my mom's memorial service, and trying to find some kind of balance, in said drafts, between not being so completely off the wall that so many barriers go up in people's minds/hearts that they are unable to hear what I'm saying whatsoever (on the one hand) and yet being *enough* myself (that is, off-the-wall) that I'm able to draw them a little bit this direction (into off-the-wall land). And by off-the-wall here, I mean ... I want to convince them of how good they have it--of how *astoundingly* much power they have, and they *must* (ought to, should, it would behoove them to, need to, etc. etc.) open their eyes, and give it away give it away give it away now.

*And* that the lies *are* lies, and not truth. Because whereas I haven't *quite* nailed down my YES yet (although I'm getting there), I have a fairly good feeling for my NO already.


gretta at lothlorien said...

You're working through this so well, Bens. I'm also all for the non-verbal at this stage. I pray that you'll have memorable times, just being with your dear Mum. Love and prayers

DareM said...

Ben, love your honesty and vulnerability. When my mother passed after a lonnnnng battle with breast cancer I experienced much of the same. I was working at a church at the time and all I wanted was for people to be there with us, and to shut up. Which seems like a very hard thing to do for most evangelicals. It was in those weeks that I discovered who's understanding of God I resonated with more, and who would be come some of my closest friends.

May you and your mother experience peace in these days, and may you both know the love of each other and God.
My heart aches for your loss.

Sharon said...

Hi Benjamin
Just wanted to let you know that even though I don't know you outside the blogosphere, that my thoughts (and prayers such as they are) are with you. As the other commenters have said, I hope this is a special and peaceful time.
I also wanted to say congratulations on graduating. I'm sure you made your Mom proud.

Joe said...

Someone close to friends of ours died a little while ago. Soon afterwards, our friends were distributing leaflets about how wonderfully God was using the death, and how strong the family was.

I don't want to judge - maybe they really feel like that. But if my wife or my mother or my best friend died, I'd be grieving not celebrating.

gretta at lothlorien said...

David (Dad) here. Thanks Benjamin for sharing your feelings. I'm not a blogger. I've only written on a blog once or twice before. But Gretta was showing me yours and I was moved to respond. I am so thankful for your mum. Those photos of you two together (with your graduation mortar board) are so fitting. She's always wanted the best for you, I reckon. It must mean heaps to her that you sit there with her. Bless you. David

Benjamin Ady said...

Sharon, DareM, Gretta, David, Joe,

You all seriously rock. Thank you for your identification and encouragement! =)

Deanne said...

Ben - you are in my thoughts! and it totally makes sense about wanting silence instead of God talk/babble.

Esp. with the deep things in life - I've found silence and simply being present from my friends most comforting than words or trite answers.

Silence says all that cannot be said, and allows our souls to fully indwell a situation/grieve when there are no words that could possibly encompass all we feel!!

I know I found this to be true at my Grandma's funeral, and other times in my life...

anita said...

congratualtions of your glorious graduation benjamin, and happy father's day!

i imagine some people end up talking when they really should just be silent bcse they feel overwhelmingly inadequate, insecure etc and cover it up by talking. they don't have that deep confidence in themselves and in others which wld let them surrender, and to actually feel the pain

i know i have done this...but i am learning thru experience, and thru suffering that i can just be quiet in those times, and no-one necessarliy requires anything but that

Megs said...

love you darling Bens.
I love our silences together

Anonymous said...


I have lost my father and have firsthand empathy for what you're going through. God's grace and peace through the silence to you and yours. Despite the hardship, don't let anything -including those who mean well but may rub you the wrong way during this trying time, allow you to become bitter. Your mom is the glowing example of a Christian lady in so many ways and she has always been both a God talker and a "God doer".

Dan Anderson