WooHoo! Suck — Despair, Job and Me

August 30, 2010

I thought about Job all weekend. There is, I’ll admit, a bit of an attraction there. He’s sort of like the diseased, depressed, sackcloth wearing dead guy that got away.

Predictably, I’m drawn to his despair, a unifying isolator that can supersede centuries, nations and ideologies but not the individual. When desolation brings Job to his knees, he says:

“I have no strength left to save myself; there is nowhere I can turn for help.”

Had I been an oppressed B.C. concubine or prophet, Job could have turned to me. I carry other people’s burdens well and identify (monthly) with the absolute collapse of spirit. However, if I had been around would Job have asked me — his new girlfriend — for help? Probably not. His unwillingness to share his feelings may have ended our relationship, but raises a phenomenal question: Why the hell is it so difficult to ask for help?

Is it because we don’t want others to think we’re weak or is it because we don’t know how? For me, it’s both.

Years ago I got a massive cut and eventual raging infection in my shin because I refused to ask my husband to get something from a top shelf (shhh, he doesn’t know about Job). My friend recently threw out her back because she refused to ask someone to help her lift a 40-pound concrete block. Clearly it’s much better to feign strength and end up in a hospital than it is to ask for help and function normally.

My friend and I could have asked for help but chose not to. Unfortunately when Job and I really need help, we don’t even know how to ask for it, let alone refuse it. Job and I just suffer. We tear out our hair, curse life and toss dirt on ourselves, or something like that.

Now if Job was alive and we were friends/friends with benefits, I would ask him for help but only because I know we emote similarly. Unfortunately, Job and I run with a crowd that’s not particularly adept at organization. We do not gather once a week to meet, discuss and share. So, when I’m headed into a Job-like state, I have to look to the grave for help. I have to look to Job, J.D. Salinger and John Kennedy Toole.

Job and I would disagree on his return to God, but I can see why people who don’t know how to ask for help turn to prayer. Prayer is anonymous, saving both parties from the pain and discomfort of expression. Prayer has no physical space. It can be submitted in the middle of a football field or from the deep hollows of a dark room. Prayer is the easiest way to ask for help because it’s the most private, non-intrusive way to do so.

Prayer also brings people to church, a structural access point where people are given the opportunity to meet others that that may relate to a particular woe. It’s like a big self-help group.

I wish Job were here so we could start our own group. Our crowd shies away from structure so we’d have to get a bit more creative, maybe an annual festival like Lollapalooza for the down trodden. We could call it “Whohoo! Suck.” We could have two stages. One for the manic — techno, bright flashing lights, ATM machines, access to on-line shopping, mirages — and one for the depressed — one gigantic bed surrounded by water tower sized boxes of tissues, Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely” on repeat, no light.

Radiohead How to Disappear Completely Music Video Kid A

Or, we could orchestrate weepups, monthly gathering for the Twitter depressed to talk about feeling worthless.

The problem, of course, is getting those who would benefit the most from the group, to the gathering.

Stopping Point: Psalms 1-20

9 Responses to “WooHoo! Suck — Despair, Job and Me”

  1. Kevin Shaw said

    Yes, I hear this often about church being a big self-help group. Have to say I think it is borderline offensive and to some degree a cop out, especially for someone to say this who so rarely attends church (as yourself, perhaps I am wrong in that assumption, correct me if so). If one buys in to the basic presuppositions of the Bible and the Gospel, than one is compelled to organize and assemble as per its commandments. If you join Rotary, and you are told to attend luncheons 3 of every 4 weeks, is that an admission of weakness or perhaps a gesture of communion with like-minded folks? Just because one enjoys the company of others doesn’t mean it’s a self help group. There is — believe it or not — great joy in assembling with those of like faith. It’s comforting and affirming. It’s awesome to raise your children in accordance with your values, and expose them to your beliefs. It is more an affirmation of what we believe that some tacit, “under my thumb” ritual.

    Attend an orthodox service sometime and join in the recitation of the Apostles Creed. It is an awesome feeling — kind of like sitting in the Izzone and chanting “Michigan Sucks” — but better. 🙂

    That said, even if we (Christians) are given to weakness, tell me you’re not..!!! I know you are! Asking for help is 50% of the struggle of understanding!

    Love your blog, keep up the searching.

    • thumpme said

      I never said looking to church or another organization for help was weak. I suggested that people view the act of asking for help as a weakness, not church. I also implied that many groups of people — those suffering from depression, for example — don’t know how to find each other and that it would be beneficial if they did.

      On the self-help issue, I feel the same way about church as self-help group as I do Rotary, business clubs, social clubs, etc. Business people who need help turn to other business people. When my aunt had cancer, she turned to other cancer patients for help. Locals attend Tweetups because they want to match names and faces and make connections. They all want help, they just have different ways of finding it. I do not go to church, but I can’t think of another organizing force that brings such a diverse group of people together with such regularity. It can be a connection point for individuals in every category mentioned above.

      I also never said I wasn’t weak. I was actually trying to convey my weakness in asking for help. Perhaps it doesn’t come across that way.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments and thanks for reading. Always interested in new perspective!

      • Kevin Shaw said

        Yes, I agree with you. I do think I came on a bit strong there, and I apologize. I was writing in a hurry — you probably know how that goes! I actually wasn’t even mad when I wrote that, but upon re-reading it, it sounded angry! I think I have heard that “only weak people need church” argument one too many times and probably jumped the gun. Dare I say I was being a “knee-jerk”, or perhaps just a jerk? 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to clarify your position.

        If you like U2, I wonder if you know that song, “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.” I love that song. That’s one thing I LOVE about Bono — he regularly writes about being on his knees as the precursor to knowledge — be it spiritual or emotional — whatever. One other great song that U2 has on this topic is “When I Look at the World”, which I presume (given my world life view) is Bono marveling at how God see’s us in such a different, patient ways (At least the God of the New Testament, perhaps not the Old…all the more reason I am anxious for you to meet the God Love that permeates the NT!). Here’s a link to those lyrics, check it out. Many thanks for your sincere efforts of understanding the Bible, tabula rasa! I continue to be fascinated by the blog!


      • thumpme said

        I’m not offended at all by strong opinions. I enjoy them. Love being challenged. I do know and love that song. Thanks for sharing!

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