In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pike's Grief Mountain

Our pastor recently referred to grief as serious spiritual workout and compared it to doing the Accent about 20 times in a row.  If you have ever hiked Pikes Peak, you have heard of the 16 Golden Stairs.  Each week is like starting at Barr Trail and each weekend is like tackling the 16 Golden Stairs, except there is no donut shop at the top - just another agonizing hike up the grief mountain.  BTW - If you ever hike Pike's Peak,  don't be fooled into thinking (like I was) that when you get to the 16 Golden Stairs that you have only 16 steps left to the top.  I could be wrong, but I think it refers to the last 16 SETS of switchbacks, which is actually 32 switchbacks.  I think that last sign should actually read, "Even Though You Are Close,  It Will Still Take a Good Couple of Hours.  Good Luck Chumps."

This is what my spiritual workout is all about right now.  The days following Dave’s death were ones that were very spiritually charged.  He died just days before Christmas, which is terrible timing, and wonderful timing.  Terrible for all the obvious reasons.  Wonderful, because with Christmas approaching, there was a constant reminder of the hope that Jesus brought to this earth by his birth and life and death and resurrection.  It provided an easy back drop to tell my kids that we will see Daddy again.  Hope filled our house.  Hope was the fuel for getting out of bed in the morning.  For a little while, I was thinking that I would now be catapulted into a deeper, more dependent relationship on Jesus.  I would start growing spiritually at perceivable lengths.  I could almost see myself sitting with the other ladies waiting to take the podium at the “Women of Faith Conference,” or Jennifer Hatmaker calling to ask if I wanted to co-write a book with her.  What I didn’t expect was to find myself here, at 10 weeks out, with another round of questioning and doubting.  

Throughout the adoption process with Negusu, I had two main questions, “Is God real?”  Yes!  Any argument against the existence of God was bankrupt.  Then my questions morphed into, “Is God good?”  This was a toughie.  I can’t tell you how much I hated it when people would throw out, “God is good,” after something good happened to them.  I would almost gag when something meaningless (in my opinion) would occur and people would tout it as God’s goodness, while my baby was languishing in a struggling Ethiopian orphanage.  I know that is not very gracious, but it’s pretty easy to say those words when things are going your way.  I was on the hunt for people who had experienced great disappointment and could still say those words with conviction.  I found some and I became one of them.  

My doubting spirit has now landed on a new question.  How powerful is God, this side of heaven?  I know he conquered death.  That is pretty powerful.  If we know Jesus, we get to live forever in a place where there are no more tears and no more pain and no more sorrow and, of course, a place where we will see Dave again.  Oh, I can’t wait.  But is God powerful just on the other side of heaven or does his power extend into this wretched world, filled with so many tears, so much pain, and such intense sorrow.  I know the answer, I think, but I don’t really believe it for my life.  I guess I even believe it in my mind, but my core is questioning it. This questioning is extinguishing some of my fervent hope that I had, right at the beginning.  I need to know and feel that God is powerful, because what seems to weasel its way in, is fear.  The less I feel that God is powerful, the more fear I feel.  How will my kids be OK without a dad?  What will happen to them, if something happens to me?  Who will take care of me, if something bad happens? If I don’t believe that God is powerful, then I don’t feel like I can trust him with my life and my kids lives.  There is not a whole lot of freedom in this way of thinking.  I’m sure I am still just longing for a safer world, which I know I won’t find here.  

I will say that when I have cracked open the pages of the B-I-B-L-E,  I read with hunger.  How powerful are you God?  I’m searching the pages.  Unfortunately, I really feel like I don’t have any good space to really let the words penetrate.  I have 2 minutes at 11:30 at night to be lucent and in the morning, if I even attempt to try and turn on the light, my little Ethiopian Early Bird, rises with me.  Even while writing this post, I have broken up numerous disputes, helped out in the bathroom a couple times, let the dog in after he barked for five minutes, enforced a time out, and written this particular paragraph while Leah has whined for me to go look at something in her room, even though she probably doesn’t really have something to show me.  (She did finally ask sweetly for me to come and look and sure enough, there really wasn’t much to show me).  I can’t find the quiet (and clean) space to search out this question.  I know it’s there, but I’m having a hard time finding it.  That being said, more needs are quickly arising around here, so my window of time to partially concentrate is closed.  I just needed to write something, even if it doesn't make any sense. If I don't, I just end up with a tangle of thoughts.  I can only seem to unravel them by writing here.  So, thanks for reading and helping me to heal at some level through writing.


Cheramy said...

you are just precious! you are greatly loved....keep untangling and holding on....

Jennifer said...

Blogging has for sure been THE biggest form of therapy for me. I'm a private griever but something about hiding behind a keyboard helps me feel safe to vent and share. I would encourage you to do it as often as you can. And don't stress about if any of it makes sense. I'm 17 months out and I still feel that my thoughts are a jumbled mess much of the time. This also allows family and friends (and strangers like me) to know specific ways to pray for your family.

Ronnie said...

Precious words that are spoken from a heart that is true. The hope in all of this is that you are step, even the tiniest of steps, forward at a time. At a time when I was low and felt desolate...I remember thinking that if I could hold on to just ONE truth, then maybe, just maybe I could eventually work my way to the rest. So for now, hold on to the truth you know - God IS. Just cling to that one thing - GOD IS...the rest will come in time but for now this is enough!

Jen Hatmaker said...

Sending you so much love from Austin, Holly. I am absolutely feeling you here. I believe I would have the same exact question in your shoes. Maybe set that one aside for awhile and go with "Does God love me?" Because that is easy to answer and a loving Father will always take care of his kids. You are so loved and prayed for. If you only knew how many of us were still rallying for you behind the scenes. Love to you, friend.