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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Thoughts on God.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone questions or even notices (or cares) that I don't mention God as much as I did in the beginning of this blog.

I sat at my laptop, ready to blog, and questioned whether I should get all deep and spill my heart and worries on the subject. I feel like the subject of God and faith has been just below the surface of a lot of my posts. If you've been reading, I wonder if you've noticed my hesitancy to delve into it.

First, before continuing, I'll apologize ahead of time if my stream of consciousness offends anyone, whether you are a believer or not. I'm pretty sure I'll be offending the easily offended so consider yourself warned.

Second, some of this may sound silly. But I think when you have "Come to Jesus" moments where you feel comfortable enough to say anything, to ask anything - you ask anything.

So here goes...

When I saw my son die on the floor in front of me and I watched his little soul leave this earth, something happened to me. A part of my soul died and left this earth with him. Then thirty to forty-five minutes later when I literally witnessed his battered and injured soul return to his helpless little body, I knew. With everything in me I knew God had a hand in what I had witness. I knew it was His work. It was a miracle.

Over the last few years, I've learned a lot, witness a lot, endured a lot. I was never angry at God and I wondered why others in my situation would be. It was not His doing, what happened to Christian. I heard and read how it was okay to be mad at God and to bring my anger to Him. Lay my burdens at His feet. But I convinced myself that I was not angry with God. He brought my son back to me. How could I be angry with Him? It was my fault, after all. It was me He should be angry with.

Then I experienced the last two years. We've had happy, miraculous moments, but we've had gutwrenching moments, as well. And it was happening all around me, not just with Christian. The community that we're part of - parents of near drown children, parents of brain injured children - these kids were sick all the time, on death's doorstep again...and again, enduring horrible surgeries, being revived only to die years later from pneumonia. This was not death, per se, but it certainly was not living. It was the in between.

I witnessed parents spend their entire life in healing their children. Some kids thrived and some didn't. It was a crap shoot. I often compare brian injury to scrambled eggs. Those perfect little brain eggs get scrambled so much so that they are unrecognizeable and you have to work with what is left - scrambled eggs.

There are many nights Christian wouldn't sleep. Or, the worst, when he cried inconsolably for hours. I think he has a record of four and a half hours straight. Those are the "Come to Jesus" moments where I wondered where God was. Why He allowed so much suffering, not only with Christian, but with others, as well. I wondered a few more things, too.

I wonder...(And here is where the rant begins)

...Why is it that God does not intervene? Is it part of His plan for Christian to suffer? I understand that God is always with us, but, oddly, understanding that makes it all the more worse for me. Because to understand that it means I have to accept that He stands idly by, because he's always there, watching the struggle and does nothing. We cry out to Him, and nothing. How can we not feel forsaken. Like Christian was saved and now we're on our own. How do I trust that? Most days I can accept that, but some days I just can't.

...Why are some children favored? Do they go to church more? What about if they go to synagogue? Does that count? Does God's light shine brighter on some kids, but not others because they attend a Baptist revival rather than a Catholic mass? I've heard of two little boys who had seemingly catastrophic near drownings and both recovered and literally walked out of the hospital. They were both Mormon. Should we all just convert to Mormonism? Is that where the light is? Is that where the healing happens? Or is it just attending a building? Is that why Christian isn't better? Because we don't attend church on a regular basis? Does it matter what church or what religion? Or that we simply attend? Doesn't matter how we live our lives during the week, just attend on Sundays and maybe even add a few more days on to the schedule and Christian will gain greater healing. Is that how it goes?

...People have told me God didn't want this to happen. But if God has a plan, start to finish, wouldn't you have to accept that this was His will? This was His plan?

...And going back to His miraculousness...I've seen it, I've witnessed it, so that's what makes it so hard to accept. I know that God, being the Almighty, can change things in an instant. He can give us one more ability. He can take away a little bit of pain. And he chooses not to. How am I supposed to accept and trust this? I've rationalized - maybe this happened to Christian because it will effect a doctor that has worked with him, maybe it will make another mother question her child's care, maybe it will make a parent choose to put their child in self rescue swim lessons. But all of this does not seem like a big enough reason! I'm sorry that sounds selfish, but it just doesn't!

I think I'm done with the rant. Hope you're still with me.

Of course, I believe. That's not what this is about. I believe, but that's what makes it so much harder to accept. That God has the power to intervene and doesn't. At least not in ways that I understand. And I often hear the "lean not on your own understanding..." verse playing over and over again in my head, chastising me like a spoiled child. It used to bring me comfort but now it just frustrates me.

The truth is I don't understand. And I may never so I have to begrudgingly accept it because I have no choice in the matter. It is already written, apparently.

And the other truth, perhaps the largest truth, is that I am angry at God. I said it and now I can deal with it. I discovered it yesterday when I was wondering why I was having such a hard time giving in to faith and totally relying on it. Sometimes I envy others when I see how much they've suffered, some much more than I have, but still have this unwavering, all consuming faith.

I have felt the bright light of God shine over us, over Christian many times. I am totally and completely aware of His presence and His hand in day to day occurrences, which makes this all the more difficult to struggle with. I've seen things fall into place for Christian so much so that it looks like the road was paved by God himself, only to turn into a dead end. It makes the trusting part of my relationship with God extremely difficult.

I have accepted Christian for who he is and I love every part of that boy. But what I've discovered in writing this blog is perhaps I don't accept God's decision in the matter. One might argue they are the same thing, but I believe they can be mutually exclusive ideas.

So there you go. This is my heart in blog format. My faith in my son is unwavering. But my faith and relationship with God has been a struggle in understanding. If you have words of faith that can help me understand, please offer them. Anything? I'm not trying to be condescending, and I'm not trying to be converted, I'm just looking for a way back.

Draw me a map that leads me back to you
I don't know where to go, please tell me what to do
Help me find the road you're on
I just need directions home
Draw me a map that leads me back to you
-Dierks Bentley


Alicia said...

Wow. I so completely understand. I too struggle with God. Starting with my miscarriage six years ago, through my difficult pregnancy with Marissa, through the NICU, watching her almost die several times, and all through her growing up. Granted, she has a lot less problems than she used to, and a lot less issues than most of my other little heroes, like Christian. But there are times when I watch her struggle and it just eats at me. Why does God allow suffering in the littlest of us?

I feel the last six years have been a series of wrestling matches between me and God. Some days I feel comfortable in my faith. I understand He has this all planned out and is working in Marissa's life for good. But some days I don't understand how a loving and forgiving God can *plan* for little children to suffer and die horrible deaths. Sometimes I feel like running to Him, collapsing in His arms, and giving the most thankful embrace. But sometimes, I feel like thrashing my fists through the air, hoping to land a stiff punch right to His face.

All this to say that you are absolutely right to question and feel angry sometimes. Thankfully, God forgives that kind of doubt too. Even His own son doubted Him and felt forsaken by Him. I wonder how people with seemingly superhuman faith do it. I think they must struggle too, just not as vocally as us.

Hugs and love to you, friend.

Anonymous said...

I have never been a religious person. was not raised that way. after what Abby experienced, I will never be a religious person. as much as I know having some faith in something would help me in the day to day, I'm just never going to reconcile with any higher power that would let a child be strangled by anjumproap on a playground slide. it's just unimaginably awful, but it's reality. so I fully understand your struggles.

Anonymous said...

I will say that when Abby had her accident and was first in the ICU we met a wonderful woman. she is a nun, the hospital chaplain. my husbands family from kentucky flew out and it was important to them to have Abby baptized and to have a blessing. it was late at night when we called for the chaplain. in walked this woman an my brother and sister in laws looked a but puzzled. they were expecting a priest to do the baptism. she said to them, "you didn't really think you would get a priest at this hour did you?" immediately my sisters in law loved her. she said I am fully willing and able to do a baptism
if you wish and we said yes. Abby was in a coma still. I was up for any positive wishes we could get. she said some wonderful things about faith, about never understanding why things happen. she spoke in a gender neutral way that felt more inclusive. and in that darkest time she made us feel slightly better. for that I will always be grateful. while I may never find faith, I have found some amazing people I respect who have it so maybe that helps me to understand it a bit better.
there is just no way, given what you have been through, that you wouldn't have doubts and questions. I hope you too are meeti g people that make the journey a little easier. - Martha

HesterFamily said...

Oh the struggle with God! As you know, faith has not always been my thing. And while I think all of this has given me more faith, it's also given me more questions. I've had people tell me that I'm supposed to learn from all of this. But it'd be great if God didn't use my children to teach me - I'm sure there's another way. Or that God won't give us more than we can handle. So then I'm being punished for being strong? Or my kids are being punished for being strong? And weak people get to skate by and just enjoy the good stuff? What if I'm sick of being strong? What if I don't want to handle anything else - can it be somebody else's turn?? I definitely don't have any words of wisdom, but you are certainly not alone. I have often used Christian's quote (which I have in my dining room) as a reminder that faith is trust - even if I don't understand. And I often don't understand.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now. You are a beautiful writer, but most of all, a beautiful mother! I envy the amazing mother that you are. I have been sick with a chronic illness since I was ten years old, and I have a little girl now who is seven. I can't be the mother I want to be for her, and it hurts so much. Today, I'm going through this too, the questioning. Why God? Why is it so hard and so painful, and seems to make no sense? And then I decided to check and see if you've written a new blog. And then I just bawled. That God even lead me to this blog to begin with, and I believe it was surely him that did, since our situations are very different, but yet, I've gained much from reading your blog.
Sometimes I go through life wishing for friends like you. People that get things that it seems like so many others don't.

I've read all kinds of books on suffering and have gained a lot of understanding over the years. I've just about memorized all the bible scriptures on suffering. I know this, that all the claims out there that it's just about having enough faith to be healed, is crap and I get so angry about those lies. God does have a purpose, it's not because he's cold, and I sure don't understand myself, especially on certain days like today, but I know believing he is in control, and he is doing something huge through our suffering even if we can't understand it, is the only way to have hope and get through these days. I think it's good to question. Keep questioning. Wrestle with God for answers. People in the bible did. I think part of why we suffer is so we will seek a deeper relationship with him. People often get very comfortable and independent without God when they don't suffer much. I read a lot from Joni Eareckson Tada. She was paralyzed at seventeen in an accident. She said she didn't question the deep things of God until after her accident. I know it's way easier though for ourselves to suffer than to watch our child suffer. To watch our children suffer is the most helpless feeling ever. My daughter is showing signs of having my same chronic illness, and it is contagious. I can't stand to even imagine her going through this. But this is what I've learned too. This life is like fading grass, the bible says, here today and gone tomorrow. It seems like longer to us, but we'll look back and see how short it all was. Eternity is what matters, and knowing the God who is creating that blissful eternity for us is what matters. He will redeem us. He will restore everything broken. I don't want to say too much. I'm just trying to find my way back too. I lost my way today and it's a dark place. Just know this, you and sweet Christian and all of your family, have been in my prayers, and will continue to be. Thank you for keeping this blog!

Cheryl826 said...

You don't know me. I found your blog link on Avi's blog. The very first entry that I read forced me to walk across the room and pick up my 2 year old daughter. I held her with a love, and panic, and ferocity I had never felt before. Even giving birth to my miracle baby couldn't have brought on this embrace. I have tears in my eyes as I type.

I, too, am a believer. It is not an easy thing to trust Him, obey Him, follow Him, etc, when your life is falling down around you. I don't think it's impossible but I'm sure it feels like it. There is a scripture that goes something like "Rain will fall on the righteous and the unrighteous, the evil and the good." (I just had to look it up.. it's in Matthew 5. I kind of got it right.)

I don't know why this happened to you, specifically. Did God make you for this reason? Is God using your gifts in His will? He makes all things good. So, what good is coming out of this? Will your daughter grow up with a passion to help others; to be a doctor who specializes in brain injury? Will your older son become a pastor and preach on your Faith even when it seemed impossible. There is a very big picture here. I think that the harder the situation, the further we have to go out to witness the miracle, the very good.

Have you ever seen a picture made up of other tiny pictures, some dark, some light, some repeated? Maybe that is what God's plan looks like. A big mess up close, but beautiful from a distance.

I don't have fancy words... and I've gotten lax lately with my prayers. Three years ago when I first read your blog I prayed for Christian every night. His name will be on my lips every night again.

God Loves You And So Do I
Cheryl Ingram

Anonymous said...

I have a PhD in special education and 29 years experience, and even with all my book knowledge - there are just some children with special needs who have taught me more than I could ever teach them. Yet, through all of them I wrestle with the concept of a "loving God". Like you, I often struggle with the why question. Why do some children have to suffer through so much? The only thing I've ever come up with is when I look around at "typically developing" people, I see folks who constantly complain about wanting more, people who know right yet do wrong, people who take God's name in vain, and continue to sin in His eyes. Sometimes, I think He just wants to create people like Him - in His image, angels who will never do anything wrong or sin. Christian is as close to perfect as humans will ever be. Is it fair that this happened to Christian - of course not! But, I do know that people are reading and learning all kinds of lessons that you can never imagine as we all experience your Christian walk through this life and motherhood. You amaze me! I have used your posts as I teach university courses and also in Bible studies (as our class will discuss this post this evening). May God continue to bless you and as you seek answers I know revelation will follow.

Beth Anderson said...


I encourage you to read "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. Before Owen's accident I was always a bit ambivalent about my faith. I certainly believed in a higher power, but I often wondered why certain people, children in particular, had to suffer. After reading the book, I realized that like the author, I could not rationally believe in a God that made suffering part of some divine plan. God mourns for our little ones just as we do. Where He comes in is through the people who care for our children, other families we meet on a similar journey, and through the friends and family members who support us. Our children were dealt a crappy hand and I find it hard to believe that God allowed it to happen in order to teach any of us a lesson.

Another book I found helpful was "God Winks" (I can't remember the author!), but it was basically along the same lines. We think God isn't listening, but when we step back and see the people he's put into our lives, we think differently.

I hope you find these books as helpful as I did. Like you, I have witnessed many miracles since Owen's accident (just the fact that he's still here is a big one!) But I refuse to believe God intentionally wants our little ones to suffer.

Rochelle said...

Shauna, just got around to catching up on your blog and wanted to say I'm glad you wrote this post. Its not easy putting it out there in front of everyone sometimes because we feel the need to "keep it together" always. But you're allowed to doubt, your allowed to wonder - you are real. I don't think douting and wondering hampers or lessens your faith, it just proves your human, normal, real - just like the rest of us. I do not believe that God intentionally allowed Christian to suffer -- though I don't understand why this happened other than it was an accident. I do believe God has a purpose and plan in everything. What is that purpose and plan? I don't know. Maybe we can't see it. But Christian's accident, and his recovery (yes, even though he may not be the same as he was before he fell in the pool, he has recovered and come a very long way -- and there is more to come in his journey!), have touched the lives of many people - probably more than you even realize. I still hear from friends in Alabama and other places that ask about Christian - they ask how is he doing and tell me that they are still praying for him (and your family). I know his story and his life and your experience and your strength have all made an impact on many and left marks in this world. I do believe that God has a plan for Christian, for you and for your family. What is it? I don't know. But I do know I look forward to tagging along and watching this journey unfold. I loved what another posted said about perhaps Lola will become a doctor for brain injured children or that Gabe might become a pastor or speaker giving inspiring messages to others about overcoming adversity and challenges in life. Wow, talking about the possibilities of what your kids may do. I do hope you find your way out of that dark place that has crept in and allowed you to question your faith - I hope that you find strength in your faith again - and I hope that you realize God is right there with you even in those dark places and darkest hours. He's heard that questioning before and he won't leave you even in the darkest of times. I love you and will keep praying for you and your family. You inspire me with your honesty and your strength and your love for your family.

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