Saturday, February 16, 2013

Are You There God? It's me, Angela.

This post isn't directly related to my grieving for Morgan, but it's one that has come to a head since her death.  It has to do with faith, religion, spirituality, Christianity, and all of the other nuanced variations getting at the same topic.

As any one reading this blog or who has experienced any type of tragedy knows,  the religious platitudes flow like the river as people try to comfort you.  Ones you hear a lot: "It's God's will", and "Trust in God".  So, to be clear, you're telling me that God wanted my baby to die?  And, you're also telling me to trust in a God I trusted would let her live?  For people who've not lost a child or a loved one, they probably don't understand the true pain those words can cause.  There's no comfort in them.

Before I go there, I'll share a bit about me and my religious background.  As a kid, I went to a private Christian school where we had Bible class daily, and went to church on Sundays.  I think it's fair to say I got more church in the average week than most people I knew.  According to my mom, I even wanted to be a missionary at one point.  I believed in God and considered myself to be a Christian, but was somewhat lukewarm on some of the "accessories".  By accessories, I mean those actions that designate the Holy Rollers from regular folks.  I also felt that what I learned at school (watered down, as it was, for the elementary aged set) and what I learned at church didn't always mesh.  Anyway, I continued to go to church throughout college and for a while afterwards.  But one day, I realized I really didn't like the church I was going to, and simply stopped going without looking for another.  That was nearly ten years ago.

It's probably pretty silly for me to call myself a Christian, so for now, I'm just a lapsed Baptist, I guess.  The past couple of years, I was feeling the urge to go back to church.  My husband (his upbringing was eerily similar to mine) and I had both been in a neutral region where religion was concerned.  Since Morgan's death, he has made a direct, and sharp left away from God.  In the first few weeks, I also felt abandoned by God.  It was as if we'd gone through one of those team building trust exercises, and the partner who was supposed to catch us, dropped us.  For a while, I was stuck in the same neutral holding pattern, and am now again feeling a gentle pull to the right.

You're probably wondering what the problem is.  Just go to church.  It does sound simple, and I want to go.  In fact, I need to go.  I need to hold on to ...something.  I need to know that I'll see my baby girl again, in heaven.  I need to know that we'll have a house full of living children some day.  To get there, I've started reading the Bible daily.  For whatever reason, I chose to start with the New Testament, and am up to Luke.  It's actually been comforting to know that the "accessories" I mentioned above are actually frowned upon by Christ himself.  Several examples are given in Matthew, regarding prayer, and fasting.  So many people act as if the louder and longer you pray, the "better" your prayers are, the easier it is for your prayers to be heard.  We all know people who, when Lent rolls around, let everyone know what they're giving up, and complain for each of those 40 days about how hard it is to go without.  I've been to churches where you're not a "real" Christian if you don'y jump up, shout, and wave your hands in the air.  Folks, I'm not a hand waver on a good day.  I'd rather let the light shine from within; more quiet, spirit filled actions than loud, neon colored words.

As I realize this could be a VERY long post, I want to ask the parents who've lost a child, yet remained strong in faith: where does your faith come from?  How did you grow it such that it could hold you on the worst days of your life?  I don't want to become the "If you keep this plane from crashing, I'll go to church on Sunday" kind of person.  I feel that maybe I'm returning to God because it's what I know, and because I don't have anything else.  If this is the case, does it matter how you get there?


  1. I can relate to so many things you said in that post. I was raised in a small southern Baptist Church, and it was all routine. I can't say that I ever looked forward to going to church. So when I married my husband, we attended a different church for a few months and stopped going. So when we lost Lauren, we were 'away from God'. I really cannot describe what I felt when we lost her. I knew immediately I needed God back in my life, right then. As I spent over a week in the hospital following her death I began to pray, something I hadn't done much of in years. I prayed for God to hold tightly to our little girl, and love her more then we could ever imagine. I prayed that God would show us some sign that things would be OK. About 10 weeks after we lost her we both knew we had to go back to church. So we went back. We returned on a Sunday that was in the middle of a series of sermons. The name of the Series was Future Family. Needless to say, there was my sign. I've continued to got closer to God and stronger in my faith in the past six and a half months. So to answer your question, I guess my faith comes from knowing that no matter what happens, my little girl is in Heaven waiting for me. And God will meet you where ever you are, he did us. And no, I don't think it matters how you get there. As long as you get there, if that's what's right for you. I felt also that since Lauren was gone, what else did I have besides God? And there he was, waiting for me. I'll admit, I spent many nights awake crying, shaking my fists at God asking him how he could do this to us; asking what we did to deserve this; how he expected me to continue on. It's a personal journey. I'm personally past (for the most part) the whole questioning God phase. I certainly still have my days when I just spend the whole day wondering why/how. But I've gotten some comfort and signs that have helped me. Like I said, it's a personal journey.

    1. Thanks, K. I'm glad that the two of you were able to find what you needed. I'm just focusing on "leaning not on my own understanding".