Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Choice Do We Have?

Someone wonderful died this week and it's been on my mind ever since.

When we moved to the Midwest, we searched and searched through the good and bad to find a church that we could call home. The truth is, we didn't know any other way to meet people. We were out of college stage and we'd been married a couple years. Frequenting bars to lurk on people we might ask to hang out with us? It felt desperate. And weird.

We're Christian. Not specifically any denomination to claim, as we've literally visited or attended services in just about every Protestant denomination you can speak of. We like good music (a requirement) and a good community of people who are caring, considerate, and generous with their lives and actions. We also wanted to befriend people that we'd want our children to be around... because I was pregnant about five minutes after we touched down in Chicago from Germany.

This church we found. It's Lutheran (a new one for us). We have met some great people who have been so supportive of our heartaches and triumphs these couple years. We're thrilled that all of our living children will grow up with friends whose parents we admire and respect. One of the pastors of this church we attend was diagnosed with Stage 4 Carcinoma in November at age 55. And this past Saturday, he joined Andrew in heaven.

I shed quite a few tears over this. First of all, he was one of those realists. He always spoke from his heart and from a different perspective. He didn't appear to be overly conservative, but offered a fresh outlook on Christianity and life. He fit our style and although he didn't know us personally, we admired him greatly.

Fast forward to the next day, Sunday. The lead pastor spoke and basically admitted that he just thought for sure that God would heal him. That he'd be speaking on Palm Sunday and not him standing up there in his place. The message was about When God lets you down. Boy, did I feel the heat from that message and the well of tears from Andrew's death was refilled. Fresh. I appreciated his perspective. He didn't offer excuses for God not coming through. He just plain said that although God can let us all down, he still loves us. And to be honest, what choice do we have?

It brought me to tears thinking about Andrew. We laid in bed the other night talking about this message and how we prayed more for Andrew probably than anything in our lives. And yet, we feel God let us down. He's also been a great source of comfort and has been the center to finding wonderful friends. We all experience loss and sadness in life. We'll all die. I will just never accept death happening in such devastating ways and to such young people.

One year ago, almost to the day, I wrote a post about prayer. Not a lot has changed. I still pray, but it's definitely taken a beating. We still pray for B's health and life, but I'm not sure that really has much weight. We pray for peace, most of all. After all, what choice do we have?


LookItsJessica said... [Reply to comment]

It is interesting that you should write this today. I've been thinking all morning about God letting us down and about how things can go so well and seem so perfect right before they crumble without any reason at all.

Our healthy babies can die at any gestation or stage of life and it is completely unfair and a total let-down from God. It is difficult to even believe in a higher power at times like that. But you're right-- we have no other choice. We have also prayed for Avery more than anything and in the end, we can only rely on stupid probability and the likelihood that she will be OK.

It's so difficult to *not* have a direct line to God to hold him accountable for what happens to us. We just have to continue living.

Sorry this comment is kind of rambly. I'm very sorry for the loss of your guys' pastor.

katie illingworth said... [Reply to comment]

I was listening to the radio yesterday and the host was talking about how we shouldn't worry, how we're basically saying, "I don't trust you, God."

I thought to myself, yeah, that's totally true. A lot of the time I don't trust Him.

Maybe it's blasphemy to say it, but I struggle a lot with it. I don't have much choice other than to pray and beg that God allows this child of mine to live. I still have to somehow reconcile the fact that my first child did not, and I find myself a lot of the time telling God that it's hard for me to trust Him.

That's just my reality right now. It has nothing to do with my ultimate faith, belief in heaven, etc...but how am I supposed to accept a plan that is so far beyond my comprehension and hurts so deeply, all the time?

My family has experienced more death this past year--my grandfather, Georgie, both of Dave's grandmothers, my uncle, my uncle's wife, etc...than I can wrap my mind around. Women who treat their children with contempt and disrespect continue having them, and I struggle through this second, sad, terror-wrought pregnancy when all I really wanted was my daughter.

Oh, wow, I know your heart on this. I never prayed for anything in my life as hard as I prayed for Georgiana. And it didn't work. And where does that leave me?

I do trust that God is merciful, that He loves me, and that He has some understanding when I don't just follow the party line on this whole faith and life business and easily understand that it was part of the "plan."

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

I remember before Liam had the surgery how much we prayed, family and friends prayed, and how even my husbands grandma had talked to the Bishop and when he got back home he would talk to the Pope about Liam and pray for him as well. I rememeber thinking then that everything would be great, the Pope's praying for us. I was angry with God for a long time after he died,but your right no one has a choice in the matter.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

This is so perfectly said. It reminds me a little of Elizabeth Edwards's book Reliance when she talks about the way her attitude toward prayer changed after the death of her son. It is such a hard thing to come to grips with, but I guess that's the point of faith--it's a struggle and it requires a tolerance for uncertainty.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I too am not totally convinced it (prayer) can help, but it certainly can't hurt.

Sorry to hear of this loss.

*Laura Angel said... [Reply to comment]

So sorry to hear of your loss :( I wanted to tell you that we would love to meet up sometime even just for dinner with the kiddos too :)

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so sorry for the loss of who seems like a wonderful man and pastor. It's horrible, when you're let down, and when wonderful people are too.

You know my thoughts on religion are shaky at best. But you know what I come back to, all the time? So it's hard to believe in something as infinite as a God- to put all your trust into a belief system based on nothing more than your faith that it exists... Because there is no tangible proof... But then, as you said in your post- what choice do you have? I feel better in believing there is some greater power out there, wanting for us to be happy and weeping when we are not, than believing we are all alone in this.

I have never been one for religion, but I've found myself leaning more and more towards possibly associating myself with a somewhat liberal religion since we lost Jack... Because I choose to believe... Because the alternative is far more terrifying than I wish to consider.

J. said... [Reply to comment]

Very thoughtful post, especially with the look back to where your heart was 1 year ago. What has that journey been like?

That message last Sunday kept cropping up in my thoughts this week, too.

What is prayer? And why pray? Very important questions. How do we reconcile that God initiates, that God invites? He invites the conversation, our action, and even changes his action, too (Abraham, Moses, Hannah, Elisha, etc)... but evil and brokenness still happen and sometimes the end result hurts so much (Leah, David). Why?

The circumstances broke my heart, but Jesus taught me that the results of prayer are not dependent on the one who prays (me). Thank God! To pray is little more than opening the door to my heart and life, giving Jesus permission and control over __. I have zero strength. Rev. 3:20