God, Loss, Grief and Faith
A few months ago I read the blog of a father whose small daughter was dying. At one point, he told her that she’d be going to Heaven to be with a Father who loved her even more than he did.
When I read those words, I I had two simultaneous thoughts. I wished I had the conviction of that father, in the midst of losing his daughter, to believe that something better was waiting in the beyond. And I wondered how someone could tell their child that? How could anyone love my child more than me? It’s impossible.
For some people, loss brings them closer to God. They see Him there, in the small things. In the light. Their faith grows. For some people, loss drives God away. The how questions are too plaguing. They hurt too much. How can someone who loves me leave me with so much pain and so few answers? Sometimes I can’t reconcile them no matter how hard I try.
I want so much to believe in a world after this one. I want so badly to believe that my Mom is waiting there, her body healed. Her spirit content while she waits for us. I want to believe that she can see, if not participate, with us. I want to believe that she knows Baby Bee. I want to believe she knows the woman my brother will marry. I want to believe that she’ll know my brother’s children and my sister’s children. I want to believe it so much.
But, for me, loss has shaken my faith and even though I hold onto the ledge with my fingernails, trying to scramble back up onto the ground above me that is faith, I found the fight harder and harder and I consider letting go. It may be easier to believe that there is reason to anything. That there is no Creator, benevolent or vengeful. It may be easier to believe that it was just random happenstance and a genetic mutation that caused my Mom to only live 49 years, than to believe that there was a puppet master pulling her string for an early exit from the stage.
When I was 16, and my Grandmother was battling bone cancer (a long, arduous, difficult fight that would kill her in the end), I told my Mom I thought I was an atheist. I couldn’t justify this inflicted pain. I didn’t understand. My Grandmother was a good woman. A good mother. She cared for my disabled Grandfather. She was a good daughter. And she died horribly. She went to church, sitting in the pews, holding the hymnals, singing in a clear voice. She didn’t get mad when I threw up ham and cheese sandwich all over her living room or when my brother drew in the family photo album. She sang me songs that I sing to my babies. Playmate and Marsey Doats and Fiddle-Dee-Dee.
The disconnect between how she was dying was so far away from what I thought God would do or how God worked that I felt like I couldn’t walk His path anymore.
My mother said “That will break your Great Grandmother’s heart.”
And it would have, but I sang “In the Garden” at her funeral, by her request, when she died at 93. My Great Grandma buried three children before herself. My Grandfather buried his Mother and his Daughter in the same week.
Where’s God? In all of that, where is he?
There’s a reason for things, people say. It’s not your information to have. It’s not your time to understand. It’s His time. It’s His reasons. I want to understand Him and I want to believe, but it’s hard. The pain in my heart lingers. It aches and pulls like an old wound. It whispers to me. It points out where she should be. I don’t understand why God would choose for me to hurt like this. Why someone who loved me would want that. Why someone who loved someone would want that for anyone. If there is a God, I can’t be sure I’d want Him as my father or my leader. If there is someone in control of all of this letting “this” happen or “that” happen, I’m not sure we can hang. Or if I’d even want to.