Monday, October 7, 2013

Finding Security

I am prefacing this post.  Remember, this is my personal journal.  So these are just my opinions.  Opinions that may change in the future, or may not.  I recognize many don't agree with what I offer below...and that is more than OK.  But in the face of many platitudes offered my way as I grieve, this is my response.  Believe whatever you believe.  Whatever gets you through the shit days and allows you to smile on the beautiful ones.  

People would tell me how lucky I was to have 3 healthy children before everything went down with Ethan.  And I would graciously smile and say, "Yes, we are very blessed."  Internally I would think "it's not luck...those are blessings."

And now, my eyes see things differently.  Having my 3 healthy children are blessings, but also the result of great luck.

I've been mulling this over for months now.  Praying about it, trying to understand.  The difference between luck and blessings.  Sometimes they overlap.  But I do not believe they are synonymous.  Somehow, attributing things to luck disconnected me from my Christian faith in the past.  The idea that luck played a primary role in the big things in life, well, I found that disconcerting.  And therefore ignored it.

The "everything happens for a reason," the "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," and the idea that God orchestrates everything offered me great security.  And I grabbed right onto to it.

When Ryan was 4 weeks old he was hospitalized for a fever of unknown origin.  Doesn't sound that bad, right?  Being my third child I didn't alarm myself, but was surprised when the pediatricians said he needed to be hospitalized and tests had to be run immediately.  What kind of tests?  Oh, the spinal tap, multiple chest x-rays, starting IVs into a chubby baby with difficult veins, and multiple catheterizations kind of tests and procedures.  In my mind I kept telling myself that the Lord wouldn't let something really bad happen.  That night the pediatrician told me "great news!  It's not leukemia."  Oh, my mind hadn't even considered cancer as an option.  Because somehow, in my naive way I thought that wouldn't happen "to us."  A friend offered support to us during those few days and said "don't worry.  God doesn't mess with people like you."  And you know what?  I grabbed right onto that false sense of security.  Today, I look back upon that logic and think how narcissistic could I be?  I mean seriously.  I worked in the oncology department of that same hospital Ryan was in.  Saw the ugly side of bad luck daily.  And knew it wasn't the result of the type of person you are.  Leukemia and meningitis aren't punishments that my loving God doles out.  They are bad things that just happen.

Fast forward less than 2 years and our next son dies.  We didn't get that "great news!" report from the doctors this time.  My false sense of security set sail right over the ocean of tears I cried.  I was a faithful Christian who no longer believed many of those Christian platitudes.

My personal faith is large enough, is strong enough, to hold the concept that luck plays a HUGE role in life.

Luck.  A concept that implies there is no way to control it.  This idea of chance floating around.  A chance for good or bad things to happen to people.  It's a sobering thought.  You don't get that same warm, fuzzy feeling as you do with many platitudes.  In fact, I think it's so scary that many people pretend that luck doesn't play a primary role in life.  I used to be one of those people.

This post isn't a bitter woman talking.  It's an honest reflection.  As I write this, I'm not angry at God.  (Though, my relationship with God is strong enough to handle some anger).  I'm not angry at much actually.  Shit happened to my family when Ethan died.  And that shit was bad luck.  I'm not bitter.  I'm devastated.  Please note the difference.

The idea that "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger."  For many, absolutely.  Many grow through tragedy, standing on their resilience, becoming stronger people.  (I pray that this is me most days)  But how can we honestly apply that idea to everyone?  The idea that God won't give someone more than they can handle - what about those in such pain that they take their own lives?  Respectfully, I don't think it's fair to offer these platitudes and pretend that they apply to everyone.  There seem to be plenty of people who struggle with pain and don't come out of things "stronger."

It's OK to be a Christian and not believe that God has a plan where babies die.  It doesn't make me less of a Christian.  It's OK to be a Christian who believes in the glorious power of our Lord without believing that God orchestrates such painful tragedies.  My Lord can still work wonderful things out of tragedy, and it doesn't mean he caused such pain.  I believe in a God of love.  My God walks beside me and lifts me up when the pain knocks me down.  This unfaithful partner is my Lord.  And this unwavering love and presence is where I now find my security.

I am a blessed woman.  I have experienced great luck and, undeniably, very real bad luck.  My eyes have opened to both and think I am a stronger Christian for it.

"There is nothing you can do to make God love you more.  There is nothing you can do to make God love you less.  For God is love, and you are God's beloved."  -- I've never found out who actually said this.  But for me, it is everything.  God is Love.  And he can surely handle me and this post.

1 comment:

  1. You seem to have such awesome insight and wisdom, Annie.

    Though I had many similar ideas at the time a very similar tragedy happened to me,
    you managed to pull those ideas and beliefs together here
    It took me at least 5 years to reach this place of acceptance, and
    you managed it in just a little over 1 year...

    And to say it so eloquently, Simply Amazing!

    You are doing such awesome work, Annie! You sharing your journey through excruciating grief must be helping so many people who can relate in some way:
    those of us who are at varying points along a similar horrific journey.

    Please keep up the "good work" in writing.
    But I'd like to thank you personally, Annie.
    Your blog has ME greatly... Thank YOU !