Tuesday, September 7

working in, among and maybe even through

I have been working in, among and maybe even through some thoughts that have been tucked away in my heart for what seems in some ways like forever ... and in some ways like yesterday. Perhaps the best way to put it, is that they have been in my thoughts since my old life stopped, and this life began on July 24th, 2008.

It has been over 2 years of wrestling with stuff. Let me be honest. I have done a lot of ranting out loud, to God. I have asked him all the hard stuff about "WHY" and "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING" "WHERE ARE YOU" "WHY MY KIDS?" "WHAT ABOUT THOSE FAMILIES WHO CAN'T TAKE CARE OF THEIR BABY" ... all that stuff. God heard all the good, the bad and the ugly. Oh I am so glad that his shoulders are way bigger than all my stuff!

I have tried to walk in the pieces of the shattered dream we experienced. Spending time with Dr. Crabb certainly helped me in some of that. I will be forever grateful for the week I spend under his teaching at the School of Spiritual Direction in Colorado Springs. It was of great value to "have" to read his book (Shattered Dreams) as part of the required reading for the school. (thinking I need to reread it now again, a year later)

I have been in places where my heart said one thing, and my head said another. Like when one of the pastors I worked with said to me "Joy, it looks like you are doing good, I saw you praying with someone, and it seems you are doing well" To which I replied, "no, actually, I am not doing well. I am struggling with whether God was faithful" You see, I realized how our heads will tell us one thing, and our hearts sometimes struggle to agree. All of my past experience with the faithfulness of God, and what He had done in my life... all of that seemed to vanish when we felt like God was NOT faithful in reviving our little grandson Jay's heart.

There were many times over that first year, when I felt like God had turned his face from us. I remember praying... "Lord, please turn toward us...I just want to see you" and I was thankful when I felt like his face was once again turned toward us!

Just a couple weeks ago, after we had moved, it felt like we had been so busy, and now we could breathe, and once again I felt hit smack dab in the middle with some anger at God. I could not believe it... where did this anger come from? Sometimes we just get blindsided with things! Or has it still been there in my heart - pushed so far back with the other things of life, that it didn't have a chance to move out into the open. It actually took me quite by surprise, as I came face to face with it, and it literally overwhelmed me for a time.

I have struggled still, over 2 years later, with things that were said to me, or done, or not done (when we felt they should have been) and I am still working through some very personal hurt. And while it only involves a handful of people, sometimes it feels like many more. I have to be careful not to lump the "church" in with my dismay over a few. (why is it those in ministry often leave with hurts and struggle to find their way back into the physical church?)
For me, I think the thing that is hardest - is to hear things coming out of mouths that is not congruent with our experience ... our experience (yep, it is pretty real to us) our lives have been so dramatically changed, that sometimes it is hard to sit under some things ... And sometimes, even though I have forgiven, and tried to lay it to rest - the hurt rears its ugly head. Like our counsellor said, forgiveness is one thing. Trust is another. For me, that is the hardest thing... when someone you think "knew" you, actually hurt you deeply. I am really trying to lay it down, over and over and over again. And, I think, with the Lord's help, I am making some headway!

I think that when one goes through such deep loss, such shattered dreams, and feels buried alive by the broken pieces of their heart - I think it is "normal" to feel abandoned by God... or am I out to lunch on this? I think it is "normal" to question God's faithfulness. I also think that God is quite okay with me (or anyone) asking these questions. (I often think of raising my kids, and how they didn't always just take my word on things - sometimes they complained A LOT - and sometimes very vocally. Did I love them any less? Not on your life! In fact, if my kids had just taken everything I said without questioning, I would have wondered about that too. And, whether I gave them everything they asked for, or not - did not undermine the deep deep love I have for my kids. Is this not like our God - only WAY more, because of the face that HE IS GOD!)

The last week or two, has been different. There is this different peace to my heart. Maybe because now I have so much "thinking" time, I have been doing a lot of "processing". I have come to know a lot about myself lately - I am deep thinker with a lot of the thinking happening in the quietness of my day. I am also a verbal processor, so therefore Alvin gets to hear a lot of what is on my mind. I think the fact that I am thinking a lot - is also why sometimes I find it hard to concentrate and "go after butterflies" as my kids tease me.

You have to know that this morning as I sat down to write this - my heart is not questioning, is not angry, is not feeling the abandonment, or feeling incensed at the hurt we experienced. This morning, I feel peace. Peace that is "ONLY GOD" ...
And it is that peace that helps me revisit those thoughts again, and once again look at WHO GOD IS and WHERE HE IS in my life and WHAT HE IS DOING. I am so thankful for days like this - when my soul feels well.

Lately, I have been able to pick up and read a couple books about families who lost children. I have just read the book by Mary-Beth Chapman called "Choosing to See"
and just now almost done reading the book "I Will Carry You The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy" by Angie Smith. Both of these women are married to musicians who also put their grief into words through music/song.

Both of these families lost children the same year as we lost our little Jay Benjamin. As I have been reading, I feel like I "get" their thoughts... I know they are written from the Mom's perspective, but I feel like any Granny could also relate to much of what is experienced and felt.

In some ways, I feel like it has given me a tool to once again walk in my thoughts, to revisit, to continue to work in and amongst and through. Personally I don't think I/we will ever be "through" our grief journey this side of Heaven. Bottom line - as a family, our lives stopped, and restarted with a "new normal" 25 and a half months ago... and I am trying to get to know the changed me! God has been so loving and gracious with me - sometimes it is only with tears that I can acknowledge this!

I guess the bottom line that I am thinking of right now is this: You can not sit on the fence about this: Either God IS or God ISN'T. Either you ACCEPT JESUS or REJECT HIM. Either we have to FEAR or to TRUST

I believe, but often ask God to help my unbelief... I am so weak so often! BUT I believe GOD IS!!

Today, with a heart full of inner God-given peace and joy, I can say that GOD IS!
And that means that HE alone can lead me through whatever comes my way, He alone can take all my questions, He alone is Sovereign and fully in control I realize that He doesn't have to answer anything, and I may never understand a thing, but I still have the decision to fear or trust. And today anew, I am choosing to trust. Why? (because it is not always easy) Because I believe that He is! I hope that you find this for yourself as well.

As I said, I am reading the second of two books I bought last week - and when I googled something, I came across a YouTube that was done - interviewing the Smith family about their loss. There are things that they say in the second and third clips, that resonate so strongly with my.

hope that in some way - you are blessed as well, or that through them, God brings some healing to your soul too. I have come to realize that we do not walk this road of grief alone.

These YouTube clips are about 30 minutes long in total. But you will be blessed I believe.

1 comment:

Tanis Gray said...

Hi Joy
I too remember the loss of our daughter. She was 12 weeks when she passed away from SIDS. That was almost 18 years ago. I still think about her, and I still question, but I too have found that God is and I learned over time that He not only is, but He is good. I believe that God, because He loves you so much, cherishes the questions, because it shows that you do believe in Him, and you are spending time with Him when you question. I also know that in your pain He walks closely and will carry you when you need it. We serve a great God. Take your time to grieve, each person will be different, and grief is a personal thing. I am so glad to hear though that you are enjoying your Father's peace. He is so good that way!
Love your sister in Christ
Tanis Gray
Broken Clay
p.s. I would love to meet you for coffee again sometime. Let me know when that suits you.