I heard a speaker the other day talk about people having naivety when it comes to life if they have not ever experienced trauma or tragedy. He spoke of what happens to people when they face a tragedy and the veil of naivety lifts. After a tragedy or real traumatic event, your faith or actually naivety is shattered and you may become cynical. He goes on to say that after you become cynical you are actually more wise than you were before. That in itself may not be good because as a cynical person you are not as optimistic as before and not as filled with hope. The speaker is the controversial psychologist Jordan Peterson.
To be honest…that was and somewhat is still true in my life at the time of this writing. You see, the first few months after our son died, my faith was strong and unwavering. However, as months went on, and the rawness of my loss continued, I began to lose hope and I became cynical. I began to see God in a different way. I lost trust and faith. I mean, if I couldn’t trust Him, the Almighty, to keep my son safe here on earth, after all the prayers I’d prayed and believed wholeheartedly in being answered, how could I ever trust Him with anything?
A side note to expectations of how my healing would unfold… I reached out to Kay Warren when Brandon died. See, she and her husband Rick Warren are very public figures as pastors of Saddleback Church. As very public figures, when their son committed suicide, anyone who had heard and followed Saddleback Church, knew of their son’s suicide. I reached out because I wanted a perspective of her as a ministry wife, and how they were able to heal, or start their healing. She didn’t answer me personally but had her secretary send me an email, with links to some of her videos where she speaks about their journey.
They took a sabbatical from ministry for about 4 months after losing their son. At the four month time period, they went back into the pulpit. They shared their story, and how at 4 months they had come to a time of acceptance. Well.. Four months. I suppose I thought magically at four months, things would start making sense to me and I’d be at a point of acceptance. When four months came and went, and I was still in a fog, and just as raw in my grief as the day it happened, I became disillusioned. This was my turning point, and when I began to question my faith, and all I’d ever believed in. (I realize now everyone’s journey is different, and there is no timeline on grief and healing…but at the time…who is thinking clearly)
Maybe this isn’t anything you’ve ever encountered in your life. Maybe you are reading this and wondering how I could be so shattered in my faith. Or just maybe, you have encountered such pain that you’ve experienced losing your emotional innocence or child-like faith. Don’t think this takes God by surprise. Don’t even be ashamed of it. I mean, if you are having this struggle, God already knows, so just own it. It’s a time to take inventory of your beliefs, and renew your faith, albeit different than before your world was torn apart in front of your eyes.
Honestly, I’m trying to understand why I’m so compelled to share my faith struggles. The only thing I can figure out is that during all this time, even when I really felt like God had totally abandoned me…there was a little small voice somewhere deep in my spirit and I still knew there was a God. I could never just abandon my faith. I could not walk away from it totally. I wanted to. Believe me, I did. However, I could not…would not.
A Light in the Darkness
I must admit, the only thing which made sense in my life…the only thing shedding any understanding on this whole thing was a movie many Christians found extremely controversial. That movie is called “The Shack“. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The basic overview is the struggle of Mack in his faith after his 5 year old daughter went missing during a family fishing/camping vacation. Missy, his daughter, as you find out later in the movie, was taken and killed by a man who was watching the camping area. Mack’s faith hit an all time low, similar to how I felt. I have been able to identify with Mack and his struggles.
My endless “why” questions. If any of you know me personally, I’m never without questions. This is the one trait of mine which has driven my husband crazy with me during our almost 40 years of marriage. I’ve always felt the need to understand the “why” of how anything works. I don’t just blindly do things because someone tells me to. I’ve got this need to understand why I’m doing something the way I’m doing it. That’s actually the mind of someone with critical thinking skills. In the movie The Shack, Mack’s eyes are opened to how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit actually work in our lives and how the Godhead really love’s him. Not only how God loves Mack, but how God loves His creation.
The movie came out about a month after Brandon died, and I went to see it with a good friend. It helped to watch this at the time, but then I fell into a raw depression, and the fog in my mind was so thick. It’s over two years later, (and two long years of my faith struggle), and I am back to the beginning. Thinking of God’s pure love for me and even though I still do not have questions answered, I am believing I will have more of an understanding into the why of it all.
I also have an expectation of a more complete understanding. I’m praying that God share with me in a deep way how to take this pain and grief and create Beauty Out Of The Ashes. I don’t know where you are in your journey. You may be right there with me, ready to begin the journey back home. You may be the person who has had unwavering faith even in your darkest hour. If you’ve never wavered in your faith, bless you.
If you’ve had a time where your faith was shaken to the core, I’d love to hear from you. If you are there now, trying to put the pieces of your life back together, I’d love to hear from you. Oh, by the way, in The Shack, the ending was something I didn’t see coming. The story-line was fiction, but based on spiritual truths from the author’s understanding of the Love of God toward us.
No matter what happens remember this: I have always loved you ” ~ Papa God
When I began writing this particular article, I didn’t know I would be led to share about the love of God or The Shack. I began sharing my faith struggles. This morning when I woke up and continued to write, I was reminded of the book and movie. My heart was warmed I remembered how I was touched by God’s love for us. As I’ve finished, my heart of full of joy as I ponder on the way God loves me…but even more important to me in my grief…how he loves my boy, Brandon. Right now, at this moment, I feel at peace. It’s time to watch The Shack again. Thank you God for the ability to understand again how much you love me unconditionally…even when I’m angry, when I’m cynical, and when I question “why”.