In my previous blog, “Are you having fun yet?”, I outlined the journey of hope. Now i’d like to share with you my personal story.
Part 1: Hope
My journey of hope began when Ryan and I found out that I was pregnant with our second baby… and we were *so* excited to find out this baby was a girl!! I had so much fun looking at (and buying!) all the baby girl dresses, hair bows, and little hats. I worked so hard to get everything ready for her. I remember being 9 months pregnant and painstakingly cleaning out the car for her! We had her first little doll, tiny little newborn bonnet with flowers, and tiny little ivory shoes… her crib was all set up and ready with a pink sheet, her doll and little stuffed giraffe, just so perfect. I had started to pack my suitcase for the hospital, and I felt a little silly because I had more things packed for her than myself- I couldn’t decide what I wanted her to wear for newborn photos, or her little outfit to wear home… and i probably packed 10 or more headbands!
Then, on August 20th, at about 9:15 in the morning, the day before her scheduled C-section, our hope was shattered with the silence of the Doppler probe… At this point I wouldn’t say that my hope was shattered completely… If you read my writings soon after her death I was filled with a lot of hope, and thankfulness and faith. In the Lord’s mercy, He showed us His strong presence and goodness in those early days. He knew I wasn’t ready for the struggle. The Hope of our daughter,Tirzah was immediately replaced with Hope in God’s Redemption. So in a sense I jumped from “Shalom” or “Hope” straight to “Shalom/Hope Restored”… and for a time skipped the stages of the true shattering and seeking. (see https://delightofmylife.wordpress.com/2015/07/05/are-you-having-fun-yet/)
Part 2: Hope Shattered
Yet the struggle did come… in God’s good timing. I had created my own vision of what God would do with Tirzah’s death and resurrection. I think that expectation became the new basis for my hope. Sometime around Easter 2015 that vision crashed in on me… and there was a second shattering… I think because this shattering was in the context of loneliness, it was more profound and painful… . In this isolation, the reality of death felt more raw… the despair so deep it took my breath away… it often felt like I was truly struggling to take one breath after another… I no longer had any taste for life. Did I “control hope by killing it”, in order to escape the pain and risk of hope? Perhaps.
Part 3: Hope Sought
Then as this disillusionment engulfed me, I became a “stranger”. I felt bitter… closed off to people. I suppose the isolation became a self-fulfilling prophecy as I responded with disassociation. During this time, I struggled… a lot with God. I don’t look at this time as any kind of departure from faith. It was like Jacob wrestling all night with Yahweh… and not letting go.
Honestly, I believe the “loosening” began when I read these notes in my old journal: “Things will come to the surface in the worst moments… things God wants me to begin to grapple with. Don’t panic over them (ie. these “dark” emotions” or flea from them), instead, explore them with curiosity, and ask “God, what do you want me to learn in this awful conflict? what do you want me to learn about myself and about You?”
When i read “don’t panic”, it was like a burden lifted from my shoulders and I realized that my feelings of anger and bitterness had in fact caused me a sort of spiritual panic… because “good Christians” don’t feel angry right?? I realized I was like a hamster running a race on a hamster-wheel, trying to just *get rid* of or *fix* these emotions ASAP so I could go back to feeling nice, calm, pleasant… (with maybe a bit of self-righteousness for my perceived niceness?)
In his book, The Cry of the Soul, Dr. Allender says,
“If we view difficult emotions as problems to be solved, we will end up looking for answers that will work rather than pursuing a relationship with God… Rather than focusing on trying to change our emotions, we are wiser first to listen to them. They are a voice that can tell us how we are dealing with a fallen world, hurtful people, and a quizzical God who seldom seems to be or do what we expect of Him. Although emotions are generally aroused in a human context, they *always* reveal something about how are dealing with God.
The revelation of reality- outside of us and within us- opens the door to wrestling with God. Encounter with God not only changes our emotions; more importantly, it has the potential to change our hearts.”
Part 4: Hope Restored/ True Hope
For me, wrestling with God meant taking off the mask and breaking allegiance with darkness (ANY area of your heart where contempt has taken root, *EVEN* self-contempt is an agreement with Evil) … Other-centered bitterness had become a mask over my real conflicts… questions we ought never to utter… in the depths of my heart I had begun to question God’s goodness… WHY, oh why did He take Tirzah from us?… Why haven’t we seen the miraculous turning to God in people’s lives that would have in some way validated her death in our eyes?… Why haven’t we had the comfort from community we desired?… God, don’t you see us, don’t you hear us… are you now powerless to ACT?
In Cry of the Soul, Dan says: “We are radically disposed to idolatry, illusion-making, and attempts to secure our lives without bowing before God. Our core problem is not lack of information- it is flight and rebellion.”
Therefore, repentance and surrender before God meant a surrender to honesty with God.
In answer to my honesty, I can’t say that God answered any of my “Why’s???”
But He opened my eyes to see His arms open to me as a Father (they never cease to be open)… revealing His goodness, and tender compassion. And he said, “I *SEE* you… I *Hear* you… and I *accept* you… Your acceptance before me was never based on you being “good”, or “nice” or your day to day performance… I have set my love upon you irrespective of “good” or “evil”, and long ago I covered over all your sins, shame, imperfections with the blood of my Son… You shall *always* know only my goodness…. i have said, (Isaiah 3:10) “Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them.”… And it SHALL be well with you… don’t forget this righteousness is NOT your own… it doesn’t depend on your efforts… Everything I have required from you, I have GIVEN to you through my Son… His perfection, His righteousness is credited to you… Come, rest in me… find rest for you soul.”