Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who Am I Kidding?

When I saw this on Pinterest, I yelled, "YES!"


Daisy the dopey golden retriever gave me a funny look and then went back to gnawing the yellow fuzz off her tennis ball.

Sometimes, life fools me into believing that I have something figured out. It feels so good to have something figured out. I stand tall, and my smile beams my confidence and pride for the world to see.

I am woman. Hear me roar, people!

And then, of course, my carefully constructed answer falls apart, leaving me with the feeling that life must be some sort of cosmic joke designed to convince us of our complete idiocy. In fact, I would argue that if we live long enough, we'll learn that almost everything we think we know at this moment is, almost certainly, wrong.

Yet we have to answer questions all the time, don't we? Some are easy. Jack recently asked me, "What does impressive mean?"

Score one for the word nerd. I nailed it.

Other questions, however, stump me. For instance, should George and I spend over $2,000 having our yard hydroseeded? Should we put wire mesh on our gutters or the fancy leaf guards that cost five times what the mesh costs? What window treatments should I put up in our bedroom? Family room? Breakfast room? Dining room? Should I use my fuel points all at one time or just part now, and part later? The pump gives me the choice, but how am I supposed to know what's best?

In fact, how am I qualified to make any of these decisions? My degree is in literature, not home improvement, interior design, or economics. Why doesn't life ask us what Chaucer means when he writes, "Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages" or why there is a pear tree in The Merchant's Tale? Life hasn't yet asked me to explain iambic pentameter and compare/contrast its use by John Milton and Alexander Pope.

I could nail those answers. Oh, yes. I could nail them.

But those are not the types of questions life throws at us. Last week, my firstborn threw me a doozy:  "Is hell real?" You'll never guess the first thing to pop into my head.

"Oh, hell."

I don't like the idea of hell. I really don't like the idea of faith generated from fear. I don't believe God wants us motivated by a desire to avoid punishment. He keeps repeating, over and over again in case we didn't hear Him the first five dozen or so times, "Fear not." He wants us motivated by the overwhelming love we feel from Him to share that love with the world.

But does this mean I believe in universal salvation and thus that there is no hell?

Beats the hell out of me. I don't know what I believe about hell. What I do know is that my belief--or lack thereof--doesn't matter. The fact that I'm wrestling with the question like Jacob wrestled God in the wilderness means I'm on the right track. At least, I sure hope so.

Some of you may be yelling at your computer, "OF COURSE hell exists, Susan! The Bible says so!" Others may be yelling, "OF COURSE hell doesn't exist, Susan! God loves everyone!" Still others may be yelling, "OF COURSE hell doesn't exist because God was invented to guilt people into behaving nicely."

But I'm going to politely return to gnawing the fuzz off my tennis ball and leave you to gnaw the fuzz off yours because we just have to figure out some things for ourselves.

In the meantime, peace be with you.


  1. This will really throw you....Hell exists because God loves us! He loves us enough to be just and justice requires punishment and punishment requires Hell. I agree, however, that Hell is not a good reason to believe; but it sure is a good reason to be grateful that God provides a way to avoid it!

  2. Doesn't throw me at all, Katy! It's that point that keeps me from dismissing hell's existence, and a key problem in the universalist perspective.

  3. Loved reading this, this morning Susan and made me chuckle. Haven't been around the Blogosphere for a while (work, life, sick family etc.. all the usual suspects!) but I look forward to checking in regularly again since I do love the way that you express yourself.

    As far as having all the answers goes, I always tell myself that it'd be a pretty boring existence if we knew the answer to everything.. in the same way that the world would be a boring place if everyone was as perfect as I am!

  4. Welcome back, Mim! Hope everyone is well.

  5. 'In the meantime, peace be with you.'

    And with you.

  6. I once heard hell described as an absence of God's presence. If God is love, light, gracious, forgiving, etc, yet people don't accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ they will not be able to enter where God is, so will be in a place without love, light, grace, forgiveness, etc. That sounds bad enough to me without having to add in the fire and brimstone....


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!