i read this article depicting one girl’s experience with grief. she talked about how she gave up blogging for that season. i figured it best if i do the same. in fact, i wasn’t sure i would ever find myself back on this page again. but, as i sat distracted through yet another sermon at church, i found myself scribbling some thoughts on the church bulletin. and i guess i want to take those scribbles and try to make some sense of them…
i remember the moment when i realized that it happened. i remember the space on the floor i was sitting. i remember the way the tears felt slipping from my eyes despite how hard i tried to keep them in. i remember the way i kept looking out the window like maybe something out there could take this all away from me. i remember the song that was playing. i remember feeling like the best was behind me, and that i just didn’t know how i would ever have the strength to start over again.
before my mom died i had the most special relationship with God. it was beautiful and whimsical and oh so intimate. He was my best friend. He was my greatest delight. He was my treasure. there was no ebb and flow for us. there were no seasons of dryness followed by seasons of joy. there was rich and then there was richer.
but like i said, i remember the moment when i realized that it happened.
i remember the moment when i realized that all of that had changed.
since that moment of realization for me, since that moment of how poor i felt in the absence of all that richness, since that moment there has come a lot of thoughts from others about what this season might be about. one of those thoughts was that this just might be a season of dissatisfaction. i believed her when she said it, but as i sat in church this morning i couldn’t help but think i’ve walked around for weeks feeling terrible for thinking i’m dissatisfied in God, and i really don’t think that’s what’s going on at all. no, i don’t think that’s what’s going on at all.
because the thing about all this is that if i was dissatisfied, then i would go about seeking satisfaction in someone or something else. and i haven’t done that. sure, i’ve looked for moments to catch my breath. and i’ve looked for ways to feel something–anything–else. but i still sit at the table with Him every day. i still read His word. I still press into community. i still talk to Him. i still wait and listen, even through all these weeks of silence.
so no, the difference that i experience now in my relationship with God is not dissatisfaction, it’s just a disconnection. there’s a thick, dark space between Him and me, and in that thick, dark space I am finding it really hard to hear Him. and how, in the midst of all this deep sadness, could i really expect to experience anything else?
you see, it’s not just in my relationship with Him that i feel this disconnection. i feel it in my friendships in this season as well. it’s like people are walking on eggshells around me. if i share about how i’m doing, no one ever seems to want to follow that. most people’s bad days are prefaced with an “i know it’s not anything like what you’re going through, but….” i guess the thing is, i just don’t have any friends who don’t have their moms anymore. and it all feels pretty isolating and lonely. and a lot of people seem to kind of keep me at a distance. and i feel every inch of that distance and then some.
but not all my friendships are like that. i’ve still got some friends who let me in anyway. there are the friends who share about their hard days with no qualifiers. there are the friends who cry in front of me even though they know i am always crying too. there are friends who still ask me to pray for them. there are friends who seem to want to keep me close, even on the days when i don’t feel a whole lot like staying.
it’s the keeping when i don’t feel like staying that seems to be the only thing i am learning right now in the midst of all of this. because it’s that keeping when i don’t feel like staying that seems to allow just the slightest bit of hope to permeate every inch of this sadness. let me try to explain.
i’ve spent a lot of time driving this semester, and in all that driving i have done a whole lot of thinking. on one of those drives i had another realization. for the first time since becoming a Christian i understood why people who know about Jesus walk away from Him in times of deep suffering. it’s one thing to think bad things just happen. it’s another thing to know about a God who has the power to prevent them from happening. it’s one thing to think that everyone’s mom dies eventually. it’s another thing to have prayed harder for her healing than anything else i’ve ever prayed for, and to sit here in the loss knowing Jesus could have healed her at a breath, and yet He didn’t.
a breath. what i’d give for a breath.
so as i drove along i couldn’t help but think how in the midst of deep loss over a mom who was too young to die, and i too young to bear the grief, Christianity feels like some kind of sick joke. to speak of a God who has infinite power, a God who heals at a word, a God who loves us unconditionally, a God who is here with us…that kind of knowledge just isn’t very comforting on this side of that short, terrifying goodbye. and as i drove along i understood how that kind of knowing mixed with this kind of feeling can make someone walk away from Him.
and then i started to wonder where i would be if my relationship with God in this season was contingent on my staying, contingent on my not walking away. the thing is, i don’t just know about Jesus. and this–my relationship with Him–isn’t just about knowledge. i don’t just know about Him, i know Him. i know Him as my best friend. i know Him as beautiful. i know Him as my deepest treasure. i know Him intimately. and i still believe Him when He says that no one will snatch me out of His hand. and therein lies my hope for this season.
this isn’t about me staying; this is about Him keeping. the keeping when i don’t feel a whole lot like staying…
He will keep me through my kicks and screams and tears and sleepless nights. He will keep me through my doubts and frustrations and anger and dislike. He will keep me always. no one will snatch me from His hands. and neither will this grief and sorrow and darkness.
no, i’m not going anywhere. and in that truth i have found the freedom to process before Him honestly. and in that truth i have found that it’s okay to say the kinds of things that i am saying in this post. because faith is so much more than a feeling. and my knowledge of Him is so much more than knowing about Him. and He still loves me. yes, He still loves me.
and i still love Him too. yes, i still love Him too.
today’s margin note: when suffering comes, find rest in the reality that being a Christian with steadfast endurance is far more about faith in His keeping than it is about your strength to continue staying, especially when you don’t feel a whole lot like staying.