I remember in my high school AP literature class my favorite teacher, Dr. McClellan, discussed the story of Job from the bible. I have never been well versed on the bible, but she taught this story from the stand point of literature, not to push any beliefs on us. (To my knowledge, Dr. McClellan was a devout agnostic who distrusted religion in any form, even up to the day she succumbed to cancer.)
The story of Job is often told to show the patience that a righteous man must possess. We still revere this quality in others. But, this was not the part of the story we were told in AP Literature. We were told of the whiny Job. The Job that complained constantly to God. How unfair his life was, how unfair people were to him, how unfair God was to him. On and on Job complained until one day God reached his breaking point. From heaven God bellowed, “How dare you question me, you have no idea what I have done for you.” (paraphrasing from memory)
Now, in all fairness, I have not read this passage since that high school class 22 years ago. And, as stated before, I am not a biblical expert by any stretch of the imagination. But, I do remember God’s reply to Job’s complaint and is has stuck with me. (If you are familiar with this story and I have completely messed it up, please do not ruin my memory of it by correcting me. It has been a foundation for much of my spiritual thinking.)
I have been thinking of this story a lot lately. Instead of just complaining to God, I have recently been complaining to “life, the universe, the goddess, the higher being, God, Mary,” whoever will listen to me complain. I don’t have enough money, I can’t find love, I can’t afford my house without roommates, I’m not happy or fulfilled in my career, I’m not happy or fulfilled in my life. And on and on. I am the whiny Job of the story. I can’t even stand to hear my self speak or think sometimes.
But, Karma, life, the universe, the goddess, the higher being, God, Mary, whoever has been listening always finds a way to kick me in the ass and bellow out to me, “How dare you question me, you have no idea what I have done for you.” This is often shown to me through my students. Working in a lower income school I am shown what true suffering can look like. The child that does not eat on weekends because they’re parents can’t afford food for the family. The 12 year old girl who hasn’t showered in days because the water and electricity were turned off because her mother couldn’t afford the bills. The 14 year old boy who practically raises his little brother and sister because his mother passed away three years ago and his father works every single night to try to feed the family. Or, the 11 year old girl whose step father sold her to a man for his sexual perversions.
These children have suffered in more ways in their young lives then I could ever imagine. I cannot even fathomed what they have lived through in the short time they’ve been on this planet. Karma is right, how dare I. I have a house, I have a car, I have a job, I have a family and friends that love me, I have my health and when I don’t I can go see a doctor to get myself better. I have an amazing life. This is the story that pops into my head every single time I start to feel sorry for myself.
When I first heard this story, I remember, at 16 years old, how mean I thought God was. As I have grown and meditated I have realized it wasn’t God I should have been taking issue with, it was the selfishness of Job. From time to time it is good to have life kick us in the ass and remind us, “How dare you question me, you have no idea what I have done for you.”
Take a look around you. Recognize the multitude of things life has provided for you. And when selfishness rears it’s ugly head, shout out to it, “How dare you!”