Monday, May 17, 2010

Back to Church

Yesterday I went to church. It was the first time since we brought Lydia home from the hospital that I went to church without her. Granted, I didn't go to church often. The amount of stuff that had to come with us everywhere we went, not to mention the fact that if she had seizures she made a lot of noise, and the fact that (despite the kindness of people at church) I couldn't help but feel like a spectacle whenever we went, made it so that over the course of Lydia's life, I think I went to church five or six times. Kind family members offered to stay with her so that I could go to church with Micah, but I couldn't. If I couldn't bring her, I didn't want to go. I didn't want to have to deal with all of what I knew would be waiting at church without her.

Yesterday, I went to church without her. On the way there, I started to get that tight feeling in my chest. In A Grief Observed, Lewis talks about how he never knew that grief felt so like fear. That feeling and I are becoming fast acquainted with each other. When we arrived at church, I started to get the inside shaky know the one. You try to take a breath and you can literally feel all of your insides quaking at whatever it is that's about to happen.

Got out of the car, walked to the door. Took my bulletin with a smile, entered the auditorium, hugged a few people (still holding it together), picked a row, took a deep breath, sat down and started to cry. With the exception of fifteen or so minutes at the beginning of the sermon, I cried the entire service.

Of course, OF COURSE we would sing about the holiness of God. Of course the songs would repeat the attributes of God including His kindness, mercy and love for us. I thought I would cry as I recognized the overwhelming truth in the midst of my difficult circumstances, and at times I did. But I cried for another very unexpected reason.

Every time we sang about God's mercy, a voice in my head said, "Well, if God was really merciful, your baby wouldn't be dead." As we sang about God's kindness, I heard, "Kind? He's making you suffer. How kind is that?" When we proclaimed His love for us, I heard, "Are you kidding me with this? Love? What kind of love would force you to watch your child die?"

The devil. People, he's a sneaky bastard.

I know that God is merciful. I know that in His mercy He allowed Lydia to live and grow in my body long enough to be born. I know that in His mercy, He freed her spirit from her broken body when it was His time. I know that God is kind. In His kindness, He allowed us to keep her on earth for 251 days. Out of kindness, He allowed us to be together the day He took her home. I know that God is love. Because of His great love for me, I will see my girl again. Because of His love, He watched His own child die.

I know. I know. I know.

But my baby is still dead. My heart is still broken. His mercy, His kindness and His love doesn't magically fix that.

So I cried. And my dear friends sat with me and held my hands as I cried. They proclaimed the mercy and kindness and love of God when my heart couldn't feel them and my mouth couldn't even begin to form the words. They did it for me and did it without question. How thankful I am for the body of Christ.

It was a step. I'll take another one next week. Maybe next week, I'll be able to sing all the things I know to be true. Maybe not. But that will be OK, because even though I don't feel the truth of anything I've always known, I still know it. Even though I can't open my mouth to declare the mercy, kindness or love of God, it's OK. My brothers and sisters will be there to do it for me until I can do it again.


  1. Reading and understanding, my dear friend. Love, Karen

  2. Jen
    We will also be doing it for you until you can do it again. Love you.
    Peter & denise

  3. Jen, always will I think of you when I sing the words that are hard for you to say right now. You will be able to again one day, maybe not today or tomorrow or next week at church. But one day. God will heal you enough to be able to speak what you know in your heart. I know, that you know, but He does love you...praying for you Jen.
    love, Amy

  4. It is such a frustrating feeling when your heart and your head are telling you different things. I'm so thankful that you are clinging to what you know to be true and to the body of Christ. What a testimony you are, my friend!

    Also, I like when you use the word bastard. :o)

  5. Still praying.....and love you lots!

  6. Jen, you are so right about the devil. Don't you ever let him get you eough that you stop beiliving in God.


  7. I just want you to know that you continue to be in my heart. I am so sorry that you have to walk this difficult road without your sweet girl here. She touched so many lives and hearts, including mine.