Books and Loss and Faith

I have been doing a lot of reading. Most of the stuff I read is purely for entertainment with a few informative non-fiction books thrown in that are almost always about parenting or healthy eating or both. I also belong to a book club, so I get my fix of the literary fiction that I find both beautiful and, lately, too emotionally charged. A friend on Facebook (of all places!) posted a link to an e-book she was going to be reading where the authors would also be conducting a weekly book club discussion of each chapter. So I have been reading this amazing book, Hope For The Weary Mom: Where God Meets you in Your Mess for the last few weeks. I finished it early just because I needed the support of the authors’ words and the hope offered in the title.

The chapter they are discussing this week is about loss. It is crazy how easy it is to access such raw emotion. Always the deep thinker, I have been doing a lot of “feeling” with my intellect rather than my heart. I tell myself all the right things to help soothe the turbulence that has taken up residence inside of me. I have relied on prayer and positive thinking and distraction to try and give myself time to scab over that raw place on my heart. But reading about another woman’s loss and her struggle with her emotions, her faith, just ripped me open again. Since writing about my own losses, I have had so many women in my life come forward and share their own story of loss. It amazes me how much we, as women, hide of ourselves. We hide our pain. We hide our worries. Sometimes we even hide our faith.

I have always believed in God. I grew up going to church as a child and learning about God in Sunday school. The churches I attended with my family were traditional, conservative churches where you sat, quietly, and listened and worshiped, quietly. My parents never really discussed their religious beliefs and I don’t remember talking openly about God. I knew they believed, but it was something personal that we didn’t talk about. My belief was strong, but personal. This is the first time I have ever spoken, or written about my own faith. A lot of that is because of judgment. I have found that people that openly discuss their faith or quote scripture seem to be judged by our society as close-minded fanatics bent on stopping the positive progression of society. This is not my own belief and I am neither close-minded, nor a fanatic trying to halt positive change in the world.

But I keep my most personal beliefs, thoughts and feelings close. I think most people do. One thing I did not write about back in March, when I was grieving so fiercely, was my struggle with my own faith. It is hard to have faith in a loving God when you are feeling so much pain. It is hard to say a prayer each night for the strength you need, for the hopes you have, when you feel let down. Faith is about trust. When you have faith in God and His plan for you, you are trusting in Him. You are vulnerable. You are helpless. And when bad things happen, it hurts you both emotionally and spiritually.

As I struggled with my grief and all the complex emotions that go along with the loss of a baby, I was also struggling with my faith in God. How could I turn, now, to the one who let me down? What had I done wrong? Was there some meaning in these losses that I hadn’t yet discerned? Was I not a good enough mother to my other children? Was I being greedy wanting more children when I had already been blessed with two healthy kids? Was I supposed to take this grief and use it to help other women in need? No one will ever understand God’s plan. I know this. That doesn’t mean I accept not knowing, but I understand that I will never understand the whys I keep asking myself.

After 7+ years of marriage, I have finally gotten my husband to agree to attend church with me. I have waited patiently (yes, I was patient about something for once in my entire life!) for 7 years, never pushing, never nagging, just occasionally sharing some of my spiritual beliefs with my husband. This summer, with no warning, he turned to me and asked me if I would like to check out some local churches. We checked out a church that I knew some friends attended and have been going ever since. It’s been interesting! I’ll tell you about it soon, I promise. But even though my faith seems stronger than ever, I falter. The anxious control freak inside of me struggles with trusting anyone but myself. Daily, I worry, I hope and I pray for the strength to just let go and accept that I am not always the only guide down the path of my life. I cannot always be in control. I will never be able to predict the events in my future and protect myself from them. Life is going to happen and I just have to have faith.

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