This is the sixth installment in a series of posts that tell a story. To start at the beginning, click here.
I didn’t outrightly walk away from the Lord after that. Honestly, I didn’t even realize how deeply I was wounded. Instead, I tried to do all of the Christian things that I had always done. I read my Bible. I went to church and Bible study. I took care of my family.
But I stopped journaling. I had a hard time praying. I completely avoided anything that required interaction or communication with the God who had let me down. I no longer trusted Him with my heart. In my mind, he was a loose cannon, capable of anything, and loving toward some, but not me. If He had loved me (or even liked me), He would not have let my mom die.
I might not have said it out loud, but that’s what my heart believed.
In the years after my mom died, life wasn’t all bad. I lived with two of my best friends, and we had the best time sharing clothes and conversation and life. I met Jon, and fell in love fast. We dated for only 5 months before we got engaged, and then after 5 more months, we were married.
But marriage was hard. Jon and I are both strong-willed and stubborn sinners, and we spent more than 2 of our first 3 years of marriage in counseling. I was angry, a little at Jon, but mostly at God for giving me something else that was hard: a difficult marriage I didn’t feel like I deserved.
Counseling really helped, though, and for a while, I thought life was looking up. The circumstances of my life seemed to be improving, seemed to look more like what I thought the life of a good girl was supposed to look like.
When we discovered we were pregnant, Jon and I were elated. And when I found out it was a girl, I felt like God was maybe restoring the mother-daughter relationship I’d lost, just with the roles switched up a little bit. I would be the mom this time.
It felt like a gift.
But then Emily was born so sick. And it turned out that my body had been the culprit, attacking her little body inside my own. The guilt and shame and grief of a pregnancy and delivery gone so, so wrong plagued me for months. We spent two weeks in the NICU, and were very seriously warned that Emily would die – two different times. But God saved my baby girl.
He saved her. Miraculously and unexpectedly. It’s just that all I could see was that He let her get sick in the first place. I was angry that I didn’t have a perfect pregnancy. I felt like after losing my mom, struggling through my marriage, and still trying to do all the right things, God owed me at least ONE easy break in my life.
I spent the next three years beginning to raise my baby girl. Becoming a mom who didn’t have a mom herself, and trying to walk that road alone. I had support – don’t get me wrong. My dad and aunt were more supportive than I could have asked for. I’ve had a surrogate mom step into my life and just love on me and my kids in the way my mom would have. And Jon’s parents were so helpful & supportive as well.
But I didn’t have my mom. And in the middle of the night, or on the hard days full of questions, or on the happy days full of joy – when you need so badly to just talk to your momma, I picked up the phone and remembered that she wasn’t there.
And the ache grew.
People tell you that time heals grief, but I have not found that to be true. Time gives you space to work through the emotions. To start remembering some of the good memories instead of the horrible ones. But it doesn’t heal anything.
In fact, some days, when the grief pops up, as it often unexpectedly does, the pain is so real and so heavy that it takes your breath away, just like it did on the day she died. And it feels like no time has passed at all.
I had a lot of questions. What was the point of any of this faith stuff, if life was just always going to be hard and painful? Who was this God who didn’t follow through with what He promised? And why had I spent all of my growing up years following all of the rules, when it turned out that what I got in return was a big, fat, NOTHING?
I asked these questions quietly, and out loud. Jon and I talked through some of them, over and over and over again. (My husband has an incredible understanding of Scripture, and explains it very well. He proved to be a very safe place for me to wrestle with my faith, and I’ll always be grateful for him during this time.)
It was then that I started really digging deep into what the Bible said. I mean, I didn’t just keep on believing what I’d always believed, I started over from scratch. I read God’s Word. Really read what it ACTUALLY said about who God is and who we are, and what that meant for life on earth and life in heaven.
And I realized, for the first time ever, that I’d believed a lie my whole life.
A lot of lies, actually.
To be continued…
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