8/10/08

I Believe (or The One Where I Open Up a Bit More About God)

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend. We met at noon and it was almost 3:00pm before we knew it. We laughed and joked and wavered between silly stories and serious heart to hearts. This is a new friendship, but meeting this new friend has been an immediate blessing to my life. We can talk like we've known each other for a very long time. I absolutely love that.

We got into a conversation about the stress and strain of life. How it never seems to get easier. My friend admitted feeling angry about that. Confused. Frustrated. Wanting more answers. I felt like what she was asking me was, "where is God?" Because even if you're a person who looks on the bright side, in awe of the good things in life, there is still that question that arises when things are hard. Or when it seems the "Big Guy Upstairs" has gone silent. Even if you believe IN Him with everything you have, it is hard to believe what He says to be true when He seems so distant. Because He has said that He loves us, cares for us, and never leaves or forsakes us. But life sure can make it seem as if He lied.

I don't believe that He lied.

I believe in a bigger story. I believe that there really are always answers. I have seen a thousand small victories and blessings overflow after pain and sorrow. I have seen the goodness in people in the face of awful things. I have seen joys coming after the grief. I have felt the mercies that are new every morning. I have been pulled from a pit of despair. I have been freed from my own natural self-defeating tendencies too many times to say I accomplished it all on my own. I know I'm not capable. So I believe He has worked things out in a way I never would have dreamed.

I may not fully understand why there has to be pain in the first place. Why this is how God has allowed our world to spin. I have my guesses. I do a lot of theological studying. I can try to grasp it all with my head, but what seems to keep bringing me back to Him is not my head knowledge. That's not enough. I know full well that head knowledge will only take me so far. I can't hold on with my mind. Things slip away, making room for new information, leaving me at a loss as to how life really works.

But when I experience intense emotion, my heart cannot escape the lessons, the changing, the growth and the maturity. My heart cannot escape God's love. And these are the times when I know He didn't lie. It comes with the joy of a baby nuzzling his head under my chin. My heart nearly bursts, making room for more love. It comes with the grief of the death of a loved one, such intense misery molding and shaping this heart that needs changing. The changing always makes possible a new level of empathy, a sensitivity for the sorrows of others. An ability to reach out and truly know how to help, how to be present. And not to run when I'm needed most. Because I have been there. I've been sucked away by the vacuum of pain and sorrow. I've stood there all covered in dust, wondering why no one seems to notice. I've watched as the world kept spinning around me, despite how mine had seemed to suddenly stop.
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Today I got another one of those phone calls. The ones we all dread. Where there's silence, sobs and sighs after the initial hello. My heart skipped and I waited, thinking "oh no, what now?" Yes, Heather. More grief. Yes, another death. My lovely Great Aunt and Uncle lost their adult daughter to an accidental over-dose. She had been depressed and was an addict. Her pain is over now. But her mother and father's pain has just intensified, to that place of crying out for answers. She has three boys of her own, left now without any kind of mother. My heart cried out with that familiar,"WHY?" My head buzzed with the static of grief and I felt that inevitable sob rising from my throat. I'm so sorry.

My desire to go and be with my Aunt and Uncle and those three boys was immediate and intense. I don't know if that desire to go to them would be so strong if I hadn't experienced my own share of pain. I may not know the kind of support to give if I had not longed for it in my own life.

I will go be with my family today. I will sit with them, remembering Sue. Such a sprite of a thing. Feisty at the same time as sweet. That beautiful face and unforgettable laugh....
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The way of our world, the things we have allowed ourselves to become, the choices we have made have left us to live with the inevitability of pain. None of us is exempt, as frustrating and hard as that may be.

But I believe that God is still good. He is not absent. If there is any good thing left, and we all know there are millions, it is because He is still trying to show that He loves us. I'm confident He continued to try to pull Sue from her addiction. To heal her. To set her free. He may have been shaking His head with tears in His eyes, watching her make mistake after mistake, but that doesn't mean her death is a punishment. Living so hard usually doesn't last even this long. There have most likely been a whole lot of moments in Sue's life that could have ended like this. Maybe God allowed her more time than any of us could imagine. Maybe it was simply time for her pain to end, a result of a haunted heart and mind. That doesn't make it fair or good for her family. But we can reach out now, for each other and hold on, seeing each other through to the inevitable graces that will appear daily. I believe grace and mercy come out of an enormous love for us. A love from a God that has a good heart and always our very best in mind. Even if it takes a whole lot of pain to get to the very best.

Having each other is one of God's greatest graces. I know that for sure. I also know He has set me free from my sorrows in the past, with time. I know there will be more after today. And still, my faith in His love? I believe. Possibly because of those sorrows.

"On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers." 2Cor.1:10-11

6 clicked right here to comment:

Harmony said...

Very beautiful post, left me in tears. It is hard to see so much pain but what a blessing it is to know that God is in control and helping us though. I really like the part where you said "such intense misery molding and shaping this heart that needs changing" What a perspective! God has obviously done some amazing things in your life and helped you through some hard times and shaped you into the amazing person you seem to be. Thanks so much for sharing.

Peanut said...

That was beautifully written. It's so frustrating not to know the answer to all our why questions. We are going through a hard time too wondering what good can God bring from all of this? God has gently reminded me that just as there are some things I can't explain to my small daughter, because of the limits of her understanding, so are there things that he can't explain to us. And we just have to trust him.
I'm sorry for the pain you are enduring and have endured. I pray God will guide you as you support your family at this difficult time.

Sabrina said...

Your family will be in my prayers...

Kelly @ Love Well said...

This post resonated with me on so many levels, that I have goose bumps.

Have you ever done Beth Moore's study "Believing God"? It changed my life. And I don't say that about hardly anything.

MidnightCafe said...

This is beautiful, Heather. Thank you.

Kimberly said...

Beautiful post, Heather. So much truth here.

If God were with us every moment, lifting and supporting, stepping in and taking all the sorrow and hurt and strife out of our lives - what would our lives be? I see his taking a step back and letting me struggle as a sign of his love for me. He wants us to learn things we can't learn when continually sheltered by him.

There are moments though, where we do feel that love and support in an almost tangible way. And in those moments we can "Be still, and know that I am Good."

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