This was written January 9th, 2009. I thought I'd share for my newest friends who are just beginning to walk again.
Ian, a few weeks before he moved to Heaven.
I was struck with a thought this morning during service - my relationship with God should be just like talking to an old friend and picking up where you left off, or like riding a bike - I should be able to jump back on no matter how long it's been and be able to "ride". It's like falling off of a horse and getting back on again - right?
Well, in most cases, I would say yes. But in this case, I didn't fall off of a horse, I was hit by a freight train. When Ian died, it was life-altering. I began to hold on to the bare minimums of faith and trust, clinging to what I knew to be right and true. Many things fell away as unimportant, incorrect, not worthy of attention. Somewhere along the way, the important things also slipped.
I had always prayed the same prayer over my children "Dear God, thank you for Calvin. Please watch over him tonight and help him go to sleep quickly and easily. Please give him a good night's rest so that he can awaken refreshed and ready to have a great day." In praying that prayer after Ian's death, I began to stumble over the words. Was God watching over Ian when he quit breathing? He didn't awaken refreshed, he never awakened at all. He won't have anymore great days. I couldn't bring myself to pray that same prayer over my children, so I asked William to take over bedtime prayers.
I had prayed with so much faith at Ian's hospital bedside. I BELIEVED that he would be healed, I had FAITH that he would be restored. I KNEW that even after we disconnected the life support that God would RESURRECT him. It is very difficult to believe that God will bring peace to your broken heart when it seems He is the one who allowed it to be broken in the first place. It wasn't long before I couldn't pray for myself anymore. So I asked William to - it is an awesome thing to hear your husband pray out loud for you.
Before long, I wasn't praying about anything at all. When prayer requests would come by text or email, I'd say "God please touch that need" so I could say that I had prayed for them. As with any relationship, communication is the lifeline. Without prayer, I began to feel even more disconnected from God. I still believed in him, I just wasn't sure that he believed in me.
It took every ounce of my being to not blame Him for taking my son. I don't believe that the devil stole Ian, I don't believe that he was taken as a punishment for my sin or that it was a result of lack of faith on my part. I believe that God had a plan for Ian's life, that it lasted 94 days by design, and that I may never understand it, but that I can trust that to be true.
With all of myself invested in this seemingly circular rhetoric, I simply didn't have the energy or emotional real estate to deal with larger issues. Someone asked me recently if I thought we were in the end times and if I thought current events were fulfillments of prophecies. I was temporarily stunned. I had almost forgotten that there were larger theological issues out there than why a baby would die while his mother prayed in FAITH for his life.
So, back to my opening analogy, I began to think what would happen in the physical world if someone was struck down by a freight train. If every bone in their body were crushed, if they were incapable of walking or doing anything on their own. What would their life and recovery look like?
There would be a time of “putting back together” – surgeries to repair the injuries, stabilize the bones and plenty of rest. The focus would be on LIVING, just day to day. In my grief journey, I experienced this. Many months were spent just getting by. I ate when the kids were hungry, and it was usually pizza or Chinese, no one had the energy to cook. I washed laundry when there were no more clean clothes. I stared blindly at the TV to escape the nagging emptiness and pervasive grief, or simply slept. Sleep was blessed relief. I shopped online to avoid the crowds, it seemed that babies were everywhere, and I couldn’t bear to see them.
Eventually, I ventured back into the world or responsibilities and got a job, made dinners, started grocery shopping again. My emotional world has somewhat stabilized, but my spiritual world is still lagging behind.
After the body has healed, you must learn to use it again. So I guess the next step would be physical therapy. I have heard that learning to walk again is excruciating. It requires the newly healed muscles to stretch, joints to flex and bones to bear weight once again. And, it takes time. It must be done in small progressions, in relentless continuation and escalating difficulties. It requires assistance and dedication from others, but most of all commitment from the regenerating patient.
So, here I am. I’ve decided to take that simple step towards my life. What I have discovered this week is that it will take relearning the walk. It is not like riding a bike or picking up where I left off with college buddies. It is much more difficult and will require so much effort. There are some things that have returned easily. I am praying every night when I go to bed. I am more aware of the spiritual realm around me. Like the patient who is re-learning to walk, I will choose to be grateful for the small steps I took today, instead of lamenting that I am not yet marathon material.
If you'd like to read more about my grief journey, please click here.