THIS is me being "real." (I am sorry.)

7:27 AM

Guys. I have to. I'm sorry. I have to. For the love of my sanity, I can no longer continue to suppress this.

Let me tell you something that happens in the world of experiencing trauma-your ability to keep things bottled inside flys....jumps...dives out of the window. And I think that's okay sometimes. How can you expect a girl like me to deal with the raw emotions of losing two children back to back and then also expect me to bottle in all the things that come with it. I get so many messages and emails daily about loss and most of the time it's great. It's so supportive.

But there's another side to this world that you don't see. I am praised for being "honest" and "real" but there is so much I keep in. I never want to be praised. I never want to be recognized for how I have walked through loss. [I mean, really...who wants to be the poster child for infant loss. That's right--nobody.] I want people to know that I cry and cry in my shower. I want people to know that I almost punched a hole through the car window. I want people to know that I have thrown more things in the past two years than I would like to admit. You can ask my closest friends for a list of all of the angry things I have said about God. You can ask them about the meltdowns I have in their presence or over the phone. It's real. It happens.

I want people to know that there is an ugly side to being comforted.

I want people to know that it is hard to receive money on behalf of your child's death. And yet..with each of these situations, there is good. Our adoption fund is a prime example of all of the things that coexist together even though there is pain and grief on one side and joy and hope on the other.

I spoke with a lovely women yesterday who has adopted (and experienced loss) and she mentioned that one of the hardest parts in receiving comfort is that you can't possibly agree with how everyone decides to comfort. And what comforts me may not comfort person X who is also experiencing grief. And what doesn't comfort me might be the grandest form of comfort for the other person.

One day I hope to write and talk about comforting those who grieve because it fascinates me. This is probably why the great C.S. Lewis wrote a whole book about it. (Amazing, I might add.....amazing for me.....maybe not for person X.)

If I could give one and only one piece of advice for those who comfort the ones who mourn and grieve, it would be this:
 -Comforting those who mourn comes WITH the uncomfortable requirement to understand if how you are reaching out is helping or not. You give them the right to tell you. Correction: You should give them the right to tell you. When we choose to walk with people through their grief, we choose to stumble around..over our words, over our actions, and into this "dance" of mourning that can only be beneficial when all parties agree that every aspect of it is hard and when all parties agree that honesty MUST win. That's why people shy away. And I get that. And it's okay.

What if my instinct in reaching out to a grieving friend is to sit with them and hug them? (This IS my instinct, by the way.) But what if my hugs amplify the pain? Do I request that they accept my intentions--that my intentions are for good, and continue to expose them to something that hurts their grieving heart?

No. Because their capacity to handle pain is overwhelming in this time. I instead must accept the fact that I must change my tactics, and this can only happen if the grieving person is honest.

(I am immediately reminded of my sister in law, who literally CHANGES her typical hug FOR me because she knows how much I receive love from physical touch. That, my friends, is remarkable.)

I am a grieving person and I am here to be honest. This, here, is my soap box. And I am here to stand on it for an uncomfortable moment.

See, normally, if I didn't blast my life over the internet, I wouldn't have to even worry about writing this post--because I would only have a small circle of people around me to inform about how to help us in this insane time of longing for our children.

But this blog is a double edged sword..where my attempts to be genuine and real come with the responsibility to.........be genuine and real.

I have tried hard...very very hard...to mark this blog with our beliefs about our wonderful creator. I have tried very hard to convey our theology in a way that is non-threatening and non-condemning. I have tried hard to make this a place where people can get a different, albeit, biblical, perspective...but I am not naive to the fact that we come from different backgrounds...different churches....different denominations where we simply do not agree on all aspects of the gospel story of Jesus. I have been sent blogs with different values, different beliefs, different theology, and I have appreciated them for what they are worth...I have seen the silver lining..I have gleaned truth, but I have to tell you if you don't know by now that I am firm in my faith, and I.......

will
not
accept
that God "slays me."

You heard it right, and I apologize in advance if you are one of the multiple who have sent me this song, as I am clearly the poster child for it....for those who believe in the theology of it. I am not here to tell you you are wrong. I am here to tell you that both Chris and I disagree with the song.

It's funny, too, that I've told Chris for years how I can never ever relate to Shane and Shane's music...and here we are, in the most unfortunate of circumstances in regards to this song.

I am not a poster child of how God "ruins" me.

I don't want to be thought of when you hear this song.

I realize I'm making the above statement even harder.

I think the timing of the popularity of this song is very unfortunate for my life circumstances.

I give you permission to think of me when you hear this song if you promise to only think about how yes--I will NEVER stop praising the name of Jesus.

Here is (some) of an article that expresses my opinion of this song, from matthewpaulturner.com 

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering
Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need.
Maybe I’m in a minority, but my spirit cringes when I hear those kinds of big statements about God, statements that make God out to be an abuser rather than a loving parent, a destroyer as opposed to a healer, an Almighty who slays, ruins, and tears apart as opposed to bringing new life. Now, it’s one thing to praise God through pain and suffering. That’s not easy to do. But as a person of faith, I do believe we can/do find healing and hope in suffering through gratitude. My grievance with this song is what it says about God. In these lyrics, God is a monstrous presence, a deity who is cruel and unusual, a Great Inflicter of pain… are there limits to what this so-called awesome God will do?
I understand that these same themes show up in the Book of Job. But Job, as book, is a complicated, and as a man, is complex. Some believe the story to be historical in nature; others suggest that it’s a grand allegory that sheds light on the relationship between God and people. Either way, Job is an uneasy biblical narrative that has befuddled wise people for thousands of years. And for good reason. That dialogue between God and Satan alone is filled up with complexities and details not easily understood as they relate to today. Do we really believe that every time somebody dies or gets cancer or loses everything that Satan and God have been wheeling and dealing? Are we supposed to assume that every time there’s a school shooting or a natural disaster that it’s an event spearheaded by God? Is that what we really think about God, that amid our human suffering, as we struggle through, seeking God’s light and healing, that we are also to assume that God is the author of our hopelessness? Is that what we’re supposed to believe?
And if so, are there any limits to this kind of God? I mean, if this God slays us and ruins us, does he also set up rapes? Does he schedule miscarriages? Murders? I mean, is God our hope and salvation or the disease-maker and/or terrorist?
Yes, I know what you might be thinking: But God allows suffering, suffering that God, if he wanted to, could stop. And yes, that is a confusing and complicated idea, that God allows suffering as opposed to stopping it from happening. But still, I think there’s a huge difference between finding reason to praise God through the mysteries and questions of human suffering and praising a God who purposely puts cancer in somebody’s body or demolishes a town with a tornado just because he needed a little glory that day.
While I don’t like to use human examples to portray concepts about God, many believers do it often. The most common example is that of a father who swoops in to rescue his child from danger. Many of us would praise that father, or at least, celebrate the rescue. But what if we found out that the child’s danger had been prearranged by the father, that the child’s rescue had been actually been grand scheme authored by the father so he could receive our praise. Most of us would say that’s sick and demented. And again, while no human example is good at explaining the complexities of God, that is what this song suggests. That is what Shane & Shane are singing about.
And yes, many believe that Book of Job suggests the same. But does that give us permission to assume that the story of Job is happening all the time? Is it wise for us to make these great assumptions about about every form or instance of human suffering. Do not genetics and habits and evil play a role? Doesn’t the Book of Job demand more than to be simply applied to our every struggle? Shouldn’t it at least be used with caution and mercy.
Because I’m all about praising God in and through all things. But I also believe that we should use a little grace, humility, and common sense when applying a 5000-year-old text to our circumstances, especially as it relates to making big seemingly ugly assumptions about God.
Do I understand every nuance and idea surrounding the ways of God and the realities of suffering? No, I don’t. And chances are, neither do you. And sometimes, rather than promoting our thoughts about God like they’re the gospel truth, the best theology one can offer is I don’t know.
Because in many cases, especially in circumstances involving suffering, we don’t know.

 **And lastly, now that I have offended you all, here is my favorite comment of the article, in which I am also in agreement:

The fact that John Piper is in the music piece is a huge indicator of the type of theology that accompanies this song and perhaps the artists. Piper belongs to a theological tradition that holds to the belief that not only is God the author of good, but He is also the author of evil. This tradition to which the neo-Reformed/hyper Calvinist tribe ascribes to is an extreme view of God’s sovereignty. Believing that He is in control of everything, both good and bad. And, that God uses evil to bring about good. Although it appears the Bible makes some allusions to this, it goes against every notion and character that we know about God as indicated in the Bible and through personal experience. In his outstanding book, “Against Calvinism” author and theologian Roger Olson finds the many cracks found in the theology of the neo-Reformed/hyper-Calvinism movement, including this one. I highly recommend it.

I love you all, I truly do. I bet this feels uncomfortable. And I am sorry. But I just cannot.

With more love than you know,
A grieving momma with the desire to be "actually" genuine, not "fake genuine," and also a desire to respectfully disagree.

P.S. Don't hate me.

If you need some comedic relief now that you've read this, I direct you to this thoughtful music video that is one of my favorites. (It contains zero amounts of theology.)




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5 comments

  1. I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't hate you and I'm not offended. :) I concur wholeheartedly!! The God I worship is indeed all powerful and almighty, but I just refuse to believe that he's that mean. It contradicts all of the love and grace and salvation of the gospel I love, and my grace-filled Lutheran upbringing. I believe that good and God can come through the most unlikely of scenarios, but I struggle with the notion of a God who took your babies and gave me bipolar disorder and doles out pain to make me turn to him. I have deep and certain reasons behind that theology, but that's a lot to get into in a comment. Btw, I am enjoying the Instagram photos of Elsie. Thank you for sharing your family's story there and on this blog.

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  2. Stephen-James gave me this to read and I am glad I did!

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  3. I recently just came across your blog, in the midst of my own grief and while it is not your story by any stretch we have a common denominator. Heartache and the desire to never stop praising the name of Jesus. Congratulations on winning the Choose Joy contest. If I am able to find the money I would love to meet you. www.nkbruce.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Such a lovely message. Please- let me know if you end up going!

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