Maybe it’s because it’s been a chaotic day….
Maybe it’s because I wrote about Peeps last night….
Maybe it’s because the house is so quiet that my thoughts are so loud….
But I want to speak specifically to the hurting on Day 25 – to those who question and doubt and can’t get past their own disappointment to see the glimmer of hope that others insist is out there, if we would just have faith. And if this isn’t where you are at the moment, I guarantee you won’t have to look far to find such a person in your very near circle. But sometimes you have to listen carefully and look intently, because we hurting ones….we’re a stealthy lot.
Two books that have been incredibly helpful to me over the past two years are Michael Card’s “A Sacred Sorrow – Reaching Out to God In The Lost Language of Lament” and “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. Card makes the point in “A Sacred Sorrow…” that western civilization has so abbreviated and sanitized grief and loss that we are losing the language of lament, and that when we grieve well – when we sing our songs of lament and empty ourselves of the false notions of control and “fairness”, when we grieve deeply and thoroughly….only then will we be in a fertile place to heal well. I can’t tell you how reassuring I have found this thought!
I read “A Grief Observed”, Lewis’ very personal telling of the loss of his wife after their brief but passionate marriage, many years ago, and it left a very deep impression on me to hear this prolific writer speak so personally and frankly about his crisis of faith following such a great loss. At the time I couldn’t relate to Lewis’ book…..but I did remember it.
When Kelsey was nearly lost in that car accident two years ago, my little world of grief observed from the outside was suddenly in my face and it was my first experience with the big questions of God….the first wading into the waters of totally honest prayers to see if God would stay with me, even in my utter confusion, or leave because of the deep shaking of my spirit. What I found was a God who not only wasn’t thrown by my confusion, but held me all the tighter because of it. There was no condemnation or withholding of presence – only that feeling of love and reassurance. But there were no answers, at least not to the questions I was asking. Love….but no answers.
When my mom lost her battle with Parkinson’s Disease last June I was somewhat prepared. Though her diagnosis had been given several years prior, her final months were full of rapid decline and increasing dementia. My sister and I spent time with her every day and were with her in the hospital as she finally released her tired, sick body and ran into the arms of the Savior she loved so. I hated what the disease took from her, but I understood her death – and though I still miss her every day, I was so happy that she was free from suffering. No hard questions there….just prayers of gratitude for this strong woman who committed to raising me in the Christian faith and never once relented on that commitment. I owe so much to her!
Then the morning of July 15th came and everything in my world, in my heart, my faith….everything turned upside down with the loss of my boy.
For the first time, I know what is to wail. I have sung my songs of lament and asked the hard questions once again. And as before, though I still have so, so many questions, God is near. I don’t understand it, but I do believe it, for to me it is tangible and unquestionable. The “whys” I still have in abundance, and perhaps always will….I don’t know….but after wondering if God were even real, and if all I have lived my life believing were even true, I now know that the same God who saw me learning Bible stories by flannel graph and who gave me such joy at singing my first song of praise, the God who led me to my husband and blessed me with my children….my children….isn’t going anywhere. He’s not hiding behind the notion that I should have more faith, then surely I would be able to understand. He knows full well I don’t understand any of this….any of it. But it’s OK. He not only encourages my songs of lament, but sometimes I think He sings them with me….
For those who may be facing deep sorrows that words can’t express, please know that it’s OK to ask God the “big questions” – that even when it feels like up is down and down is bottomless….God is with you in that place. You can fight against Him….and He’ll understand, then He’ll also be there to hold you when the fighting just gets too hard. He cares for you, just like He cares for me.
Lewis didn’t relinquish his faith after all, but his crisis spoke permission into my own, and for that I am grateful. I know there is still so much to learn along this journey of grief, and I do think it’s getting a tiny bit easier. I’d like to think it’s because I am grieving well. But I also know I’m not alone. That may be ALL I know….but it’s a start. =)