Friday, November 12, 2010

Trying to Find My Way

Wrestling. It’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I’m working hard to try and reconcile two things that don’t seem to want to be reconciled. God is love, yes. But there’s this other thing that rises up in my mind that also says God is...not hate...not evil...but maybe pain? Suffering? Everywhere I look I see that the two are inextricably connected. There is no great suffering unless there is great love.

I suppose at its core, I’m asking the age old question - why is there suffering? More specifically, though, I want to know why I have to suffer. Not that I feel I should be an exception to pain, I just want to understand.

These things are ever and always in the forefront of my mind. Dwelling on them has caused me to ask questions I’ve never asked and doubt things I’ve always had faith in. Is God really real? If He is, is He really as good and loving as I’ve always believed Him to be ? What gives Him the right to do with me whatever He wants? How do I trust Him when all of my trust has been shattered?

Even if I can answer all of these questions there is one that is ever lingering - Do I even want to follow Him? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to pretend like He doesn’t exist? That all of my pain is the result of science gone wrong and freakish, random chance?

It seems like it would just be so much easier. So much less agonizing over things I cannot comprehend.

It is difficult because I feel, ultimately, that I know what my conclusion will be. If I want to follow, all the struggle and frustration and anger really boil down to one thing: If I want to follow Him I have to accept that He is who He is whether I get it or not, He’s going to do what He’s going to do whether I like it or not. I sounds harsh, but notwithstanding His love and patience with my struggle, I have to get in line behind Him or walk way. Knowing that I do still desperately need Him, I know what my choice will be in the end. But it is a long and difficult road to get to the end and I feel somewhat trapped inside an endless maze.

I talk myself in circles, but I hope and believe that one day, like Alice in Wonderland, I’ll open up a before unseen door that will lead me at last to the glorious and freeing end of my struggles. Meanwhile, to find that door, I must keep talking and continue questioning. So, here goes.

This is what I know. I love God. He loves me. The purpose of my life is to know Him and glorify Him. By whatever means necessary He will work towards achieving that goal in my life. That is what I know. Now the circles begin.

I love God - most of the time. More than I love Him now I recognize my need for Him. I dislike that I have this need and very often wish that it was simply a need of my own devising. There are times I would gladly say, “I don’t really need Him. I’m only using Him as an excuse or a crutch.” I would love to say that. The problem is that I will always know, deep down, that I’m wrong. There is an emptiness in me that can only ever be filled by Him. I could pretend but I will always know the truth. I could hide from it for a time, but it would be time wasted, for I would always return to Him.

So. OK. Fine. That’s settled. I do now and will always need Him. I don’t love this, but it cannot be ignored.

Now, as to “He loves me.” This is simple and yet more difficult. There is Scripture that cannot be ignored, places where I am told over and over of His love. There are songs that resonate as truth to my soul that tell me of His love. There is all of my past and His many answers to prayers and expressions of love that serve as a reminder of this truth. There is the unavoidable fact that He sent His son to die for me - the greatest expression of love I could ever imagine. But more than that is the knowledge in the utter depth and dark places of my soul that He loves me. Every new day, every hour, moment and breath speak to me, whisper of His love for me.

Despite all of this (yes, I see my arrogance in even hinting that I could argue with all of this), there is an ever unmoving complication: He let my daughter die. He took her away and left me, like an amputee, limping and hobbling my way through the rest of my life.

When I look to Him now, I see the cause and source of great joy and sweet healing, but I also see the cause of my suffering. How can it be that He is both? How am I supposed to look to Him for healing when, as far as I can see (notwithstanding the sinful world I am part of) much of the responsibility for my life’s greatest pain rests squarely on His shoulders?

If it is love, I do not understand it. But whether I understand it or not, the evidence of His love cannot be ignored. So then, the love and the suffering must be able to be reconciled somehow. This, it seems, brings me to my final knowledge and the only explanation, however unsatisfying I might find it, that makes enough sense to fit. The purpose of my life is to know and glorify Him. I would add, too, that He wants me to know as much as I can the depth of His love for me.

If, as I believe, everything that I am and everything that happens to me is part of God's plan for me to know Him better and to glorify Him, it means that Lydia’s death and my current suffering was meant to teach me to know and love Him better and to give me opportunity to glorify Him. This feels impossible, but I cannot ignore it.

To stare at it and reduce it to its simplest terms, the question becomes this: Which do I want more - to know and glorify Him or to have my baby here and whole with me. I’ve struggled with this from before Lydia’s conception and indeed long before that. Always the same question - is He enough? The difficulty is that for every other time I said He was enough, it was a “victimless crime” in the sense that no one but me had to be sacrificed. If I never get married, You are enough. If I never get pregnant, You are enough. But...if You take away my girl...I don’t know.

I don’t want to accept it. To say He’s enough is to say that it’s OK that she suffered while she was on the earth, that I had to watch as she died in my arms, that I had to bury her sweet body in the ground and live my life without her.

None of that is OK with me.

But then, the love. Stubborn and belligerent as I am, it starts to seep in. He will do anything so that I will know Him better. His love for me is so great that He would let my child die so that I could understand another facet of Him that I have never known before - that He would let His child die so that He could show His love for me. And then, finally, I turn my eyes back to His face, I see tears in His eyes because He knows my grief. He suffered this great grief so that I could know Him...and to know me was enough of a reason for Him to watch His son die.

What I long to say though it feels like it costs me everything - if my child is dead and I must suffer that loss, God, You are enough - He says it about me. His child died and He suffered that loss and I was enough of a reason for Him to do that.

It’s staggering, the knowledge of His love. And deep in my soul I know and I understand it now in a way I never would have unless my own child had died. I feel so much like this should be it - the door out of the maze. But it seems it’s merely the door into another, smaller maze with a door to another smaller maze and on and on until when? Heaven, I guess, when the veil will be lifted from my eyes and I will see in full what I see now only in part.

It makes now so clear to me the longing in the words of the hymn... "Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.”


  1. Hi, I have read your blog off and on for awhile now. I am sorry for your loss. I don't normally comment but I wanted to maybe share what I have learned about suffering.

    Before we came to earth the Lord told us of his plan and told us that we would come to earth to be tried and tested. He taught us that there would be suffering and pain. He told us that we needed to know these things so that we could know true joy and that there is opposition in all things. We all have trials, but that doesn't mean the Lord loves watching us suffer. Remember what happened after Christ was crucified? He was angry. He could have stopped it all, but he didn't because it had to happen. He loves you and is there to comfort you but he will let you struggle. He is a loving Father. I know that as a parent, that sometimes I have to let my children struggle with their problems. I wish I could change it but I can't. I have let them grow on their own.

    I hope that some of this makes sense. I hope that you are comforted in your grieving.

  2. I love that is nearly impossible sometimes to say or to sing "It is well with my soul" with any sincerity. If we can believe that all WILL be well someday...we can somehow soldier through the suffering without seeing HOW it will be well...but only as God gives us the grace and stamina to do so.
    Lots of prayers coming your way.

  3. I hope I don't talk out of turn, I do not follow a god, but I understand those who do and who find comfort in him - I believe in fate and reason and destiny. I feel your frustration when you question God for the loss you are battling and perhaps because I do not believe I am more prepared for my little Ellie's fate. I have no one to blame for this cruel life she has to fight for, and there for I do not wrestle as you do but can only say that your little girl was given to you as a gift and God must have believed that you were the perfect parents to make every day of her life special, he must have known that you have the strength within you that so few others would have been unable - you should be so proud of what a amazing parents you are. You've given strength to people like me - a complete stranger for far away. So I don't thank God, I'll thank you, and I'll hope you are able to find your way again. x

  4. "Dwelling on them has caused me to ask questions I’ve never asked and doubt things I’ve always had faith in."

    me too...

    you remain in my thoughts and prayers for healing.

  5. I have been thinking about you. It is still very early days for you, I am going back to my old notes. Nothing makes sense for suffering.

    I am praying for you.

  6. You will find your way Jen. And you are right, you already know where you will eventually end up, but the journey there is a long, confusing, frustrating, and painful one. I am still on that journey myself and it has been two and a half years now. Some days I am still really upset that God let this happen to me and my babies. He didn't make it happen, but he let it happen and I just don't get that. And I hurt still, intensely. I thought I understood suffering before my girls died and told God I was willing to endure anything for Him, but I changed my mind when I lost my was just too much. I felt that God took advantage of my love for Him. I am sad to say I still feel that way some days. That is why I invented my line of teas. Sometimes I just don't want to hear another word about God's love or His plan or how my life and the lives of my sweet babies are all His and for His glory...and I don't want to think anymore about all the questions or feel the hurt ANYMORE and I JUST WANT A CUP OF TEA! I love you and I know what you are going through. The only advice I can offer is BE HONEST. I wish I could offer more.

  7. Jen--I think of you, Micah and Lydia frequently. You are, as I've said before so BRAVE. Confronting your feelings and trying to get through the deep pain you and Micah suffer is amazingly strong. The mysteries that tie us all togeter in God's love and compassion are so awesome that when the deep pain and unfair loss you've suffered is part of your life, it just doesn't make sense. I am glad you know that God cries with you over the loss of your beautiful Lydia. Keep up the good work you are doing that is allowing you to live even though the pain is enough to destroy a person. Anyone who knows you knows that you are so caring and giving and just beautiful in general that seeing you have an unfair deal and no concrete way to help you with it leaves us all questioning and unsure and feeling so sad and powerless. Lydia's time of peace and love she brought here will never die.