Clarence, the guardian angel and the ghosts of Christmas past only speak to men in movies, and this is my real life. So, I need to talk to myself this holiday season. I need to coach myself out of this gloom and self-pity. I need to come to terms with my unmet expectations.
I’m scared losing Brody has ruined Christmas. I’m scared it has ruined a lot of things.
This Christmas, I am not joyful. I am not excited. I am not in awe. If God didn’t care enough about my son to save him, I’m not sure why I should be expected to get excited about his son this Christmas.
Even when I look at all the beauty, when I reflect on my many blessings, I mostly just fear that I may lose them too. Every good gift just feels like another potential source of pain.
I used to take great comfort in knowing that my life was safe in God’s hands, but I don’t know how to now. Brody’s life was every bit as dear to me as my own, and if he was not safe, then what is?
I am told I shouldn’t blame God for what happened; this wasn’t God’s will. I just don’t see how God receives the credit for the healthy babies and normal pregnancies, or for Brody’s apparent health despite his diagnosis – but God gets none of the blame when it all goes wrong. No one can explain that to me, but I try to explain it to myself – everyday.
More than anything, I want to trust God again and have it mean something. I want to believe that my merciful, loving God has a good plan for me and my family and I want to see that unfold in our lives.
I hope God is patient with me. I think She is. Because if I were Her, I probably wouldn’t want to hear from me anymore. I haven’t had anything nice to say to Her for a while, and day by day, this is turning into me not saying much at all. And I don’t like that direction.
I want to make God pay for my hurt. I don’t want to put Her in a position of great power in my life because She has totally failed to meet my expectations lately, not even close. And I don’t feel like I’m meeting Hers either.
I have never been through a serious break up before, but I imagine this is how it feels before the end. There is just too much between you to forgive – too many disappointments and failures, too many promises broken. At some point, you just don’t bring out the best in each other any more. Challenges that once seemed manageable are unacceptable now.
What do you do at that juncture? How do you turn back?
Probably a good start is to break the silence.
I read this quote yesterday from Shauna Niequist, “Christmas is about sacred light cutting through the darkness—not about pretending the darkness isn’t there.”
And that spoke to me, because the darkness is here and I have to confront it, on birthdays and at Christmas and every damn day. I can’t just say that I’m hurt, or confused or deeply disappointed and give myself permission to passively accept defeat.
Brody dying isn’t the ultimate defeat. It absolutely feels like it is, but it’s not. Giving his death the power to separate me from Love – allowing it to become the defining story – that would be the ultimate defeat.
I keep telling myself that there isn’t a solution. My son’s death is proof that faith is impotent, and I am too vulnerable to ever feel safe. And that lie needs to stop. There is a way to let in divine light. There is a good and merciful God, and I still want Her, if she’ll have me.
Revering God is the beginning of wisdom. I want to live in awe of God, of the God who speaks to me and tells me:
I will always give you what you need to get through, but you will have to go through with me. I am the vine and you are the branches. Apart from me, you cannot produce good fruit.
God has given me what I need to get through. I believe that. I’m not always interested in doing things Her way though, because it hurts and it feels unfair.
It hurts to be hopeful. It hurts to love other imperfect and vulnerable people. It hurts to be honest and discuss the pain of not holding Brody at Christmas.
In Romans 8:35, Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” In verses 38 and 39 he answers, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Perhaps I should make my own list. Perhaps we all need to make our own list. What will separate me from the Love of God? Will unmet expectations, fears, pain, questions or death of my child separate me? Will they? They will, if I let them. But I don’t need to let them. If I draw near to God, She will draw near to me. So, I will. I will break the silence.