The truth is...

A few months after having Jed, I stopped reading my bible. At the time, we had been living with someone, just a year after being newlyweds. A short time after that, I had Jed, and just completely stopped. In part because being a new mom was overwhelming for me. I choose, instead to throw myself pity parties because it was so hard. Then a month after that, I got pregnant with Benjamin and I was even more exhausted. Living with someone while raising your first child is extremely difficult. I think I felt stressed out every single day. At some point I think I just gave up. I would try and read here and there, but for the most part, I was just trying to get by, I just wanted to get through the day. RJ had been going through the process of applying for a job he really wanted, one I was sure he was going to get. As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I began praying again. At this point, I developed a conditional relationship with God. He didn't get the job. I was hurt for him. I was hurt for my husband who I knew really wanted this. So I sunk further in. I was angry because I didn't understand. RJ was so faithful that i  just didn't get why this was happening. It was really hard for him after that. He still managed to say that he knew things would be okay and that he trusted God. I admired him for that, but I didn't share the sentiment.

During all of this I had people share with me the "prosperity movement". You know, God wants you to be happy, and rich, and to have everything you ever wanted. I knew that wasn't true, but, it creeped in. Maybe because I hadn't been reading, or praying. Although I had been studying, because I remember studying Peter, and by the grace of God, that is really what sustained me. THEN, RJ was accused of something, I think that was the straw (you know, the camel). I was so angry! I felt like, way to kick a dog while he's down. A part of me still can't believe that happened. I have always felt like I'm able to keep a pretty good hold on things when it comes to me. I can handle a lot, but when it comes to RJ, i can't. I think that changed him. He forgave the person, and RJ is very forgiving. When he says he forgives you, he really means it, and he never brings it up. I knew it really hurt him, but he still managed to move on. I didn't. I was mad, I was mad at the person, I was angry at God. I just didn't understand.

For a while I was just hurt, and going though the motions. I knew I had no right to be, but I was. Then Ben died, and I became heart broken. I mean, I thought I had been experiencing pain that entire year, but I had no idea. I was devastated. I had no quarrels with God, I felt guilty, I felt ashamed, and I repented. I started reading again, not a lot, just what I could manage in between cries. Then the dust settled, everything calmed down, and people moved on. And I felt stuck. I guess a part of me felt like people would still be heartbroken with me. I was seeing everyone move on, but I was in the same place. I didn't understand. I KNEW what the right response was, I knew what the bible said, but I felt hurt. I felt betrayed. I started to entertain the idea that maybe I didn't know God. Maybe God didn't care about me. Remember the prosperity thing? That came in! I started thinking maybe theres something to that. Maybe if we really knew God, none of this would have happened. Maybe God was punishing me for being so unfaithful. I just didn't get it.

People around me were having babies and it hurt. For a while I couldn't even look at them. It just felt, like life kept going, without Ben. I kept thinking how people don't even want babies, and how women have abortions, and I was angry again. I was angry at God for taking Ben, for putting us in this situation, for leaving me. I knew I had no right to be, but that's how I felt. Up until now, I relied solely on what I already knew. I didn't want to read or pray. I just went through the motions. I showed up, talked if I had to, and left. When RJ joined the military, that was my way out. I thought I'll never have to see these people again. I won't be reminded of Ben and I can just move on. I removed myself. Pretty soon I did the bare minimum and that was okay. It was easy to go unnoticed. You just show up, say the right thing, and people leave you alone. I knew what I was doing was wrong, I felt convicted. I wrestled with God. I felt picked on. I started feeling sorry for myself. I kept trying to make sense of things. I kept wanting God to say, "this is why I did it". Something!

I just didn't get it, I still don't get it. I tried for a long time to understand. I thought, maybe it was for this reason, or because of this. I wanted Benjamin's death to mean something. Then I realized I'll probably go the rest of my life, and never know why this happened. I was surrounding myself with people and ideas that were different from the bible. They taught that if something bad happens, you're doing something wrong. You're not in God's favor. Then I started listening to sermons. I wasn't willing to read, but I would listen. I just knew something had to change, I didn't want to go the rest of my life this way. Something did change, the word of God has a funny way of doing that. I would hear sermons on heaven and suffering, and it started changing my outlook.

I'm still in the middle of it. God is slowly changing my heart. I heard a sermon last night about the suffering of Christ. He talked about how Peter told God that he would never let them crucify Him. He explained how Peter just couldn't imagine something like that happening, it seemed too horrible. In the same way, we can't imagine bad things happening, they seem like they're outside of the will of God. The verse in Matthew goes on to say that we must take up our cross and follow Him. It also asks, what good is it to gain the world, but lose your soul. I don't know why things happen the way they do, some things seem obvious and others seem impossible to explain. But I think God has been teaching me that I was chasing after something that wasn't real, something that had no value. I had an idea of what life should look like, and I was hurt that things weren't working out that way. I think a lot of people feel that way. They don't ever think they can have the life they want so they settle for the life they have, and are content just getting by. I don't want to get by. I want to live a life that brings glory to God. It took a long time for me to realize that. I kept hoping that I would wake up one day and feel different, but it hasn't happened. I don't feel different, I'm just thinking differently. I'm praying that in obedience and faithfulness, my joy will be restored. Not in perishable things, but in the precious blood of Christ.

 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Roman 8:18

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Michelle said...

Girl, this is so powerful!! I am truly sorry for everything you've been through, and I'm praying God will continue to heal your heart. I just can't imagine.

Ugh, the prosperity gospel. I had some friends in college who were really into it. It never sat right with me, but I ignored it at the time. My husband has a few chronic medical conditions, and a woman told him it was because he was doing something wrong with his life, so God was punishing him. I was FURIOUS. It's such a harmful message. The Bible is full of struggling. Jesus even said we will have tribulation in the world. And yet I still find myself frequently wonder if I'm being punished when something bad happens to me. But I look back on some of my most painful years and see how they've turned me into the person I am today. I know God uses those things for good and for his glory, but they're so hard to understand and so hard to accept sometimes. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll understand the reasons for most of our tragedies this side of heaven.

mayrae said...

Wow thank you for sharing and being so honest. Love you.

Rachel said...

I wish I had read this post earlier before we hung out! I just wanted to say how much I admire you being open and honest! You have described pretty much how my relationship with God has been lately. Although I have a very very different scenario, you pretty much hit home. I too was just going through the motions, not understanding. That's why I hadn't gone to church, and just watched online. I so wanted to be there in Gods heart like I was, I wanted to feel that immense joy that comes from loving Him with everything you've got, but something inside me was just putting up a block, and my apathy and laziness, I guess you can call it, kept me from going forward. I have also been trying to start again, and I just want to let you know that I'm here for you! :)

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