There are times when I read just the first two chapters of the Bible and immediately follow that reading with the last two chapters of the Book.
I like to rest there.
Those four blissful chapters are the opening parenthesis and the closing parenthesis of Life as I understand it.
Living Life in Between
I don’t mean to get unduly grammatical. But I want to paint a picture with the following example. (This sentence exists between the opening parenthesis at the beginning and the closing parenthesis at the end.)
I consider the first two chapters of Genesis as the opening parenthesis of Human Existence, and the last two chapters of Revelation as the closing parenthesis of The Story of Humanity.
In the beginning was bliss. Unsullied beauty. Life with no death. Creation. Initiation. No pain and No problems.
At the end—or in the new beginning—bliss is promised, too. Jaw-dropping beauty. Life unending. Tear-free. Light-filled. No pain and No problems.
It’s the in-between time that is so hard to deal with
Criminals steal and rape and kill. Bullies attack and go unpunished.
A friend is promised the gift of a house. Her relative assures her of financial support for the purchase. She gets her hopes up and researches places to live. Then her relative backs out of the deal.
A co-worker losses her longed-for child through miscarriage.
A community leader appears to be trustworthy. When the truth of the goings-on in his organization is revealed, an entire community reels from his disloyalties.
A trauma response overwhelms the senses. Suddenly, mental focus lags; emotional peace flees; physical illness arises; and productivity stalls.
A former spouse disregards the Court’s appointed parenting plan.
Children grow suddenly ill with a sickness that devastates their small frames, confuses their thinking, and eventually takes their lives.
A friend betrays a trust.
Life in between the parentheses is hard
That’s why it’s so important to skip ahead to the ending every now and again. Remind ourselves that the time of No Pain and No Problems is coming.
A close friend of mine and reader of Locusts Ate My Orgasms recently “confessed” that halfway through the book she chose to skip ahead to the Afterward to ensure herself that things turn out all right for me in my memoir.
I had to laugh. She knows me, and that book is my story. We talk frequently. She knows how well I’m doing.
But somehow wading through the muck of the abuse perpetrated against me and reading an account of my own selfish and harmful actions against others led her to need a re-affirmation that it all turns out okay in the end. She said,
“It’s like reading Revelation. I know we win in the end. I just sometimes need to see it in print.”
Looking outside the parentheses
When the pain we are facing seems too hard to bear, when the problems of our loved ones overwhelm us, when the region where we live is turned inside out by scandal, when traumatic events from the past affect our present, when we hurt as our children suffer, it’s time to take another look at Life outside of the parentheses.
I encourage you. Read Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. Quickly follow that with a reading of Revelation, chapters 21 and 22.
It’s hard living life in the in-between space of my Bible’s bookends. But on the other side of the closing parenthesis, Life really will be easier.
God’s promise, not mine.