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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

At A Loss For Words

I'm either at a loss for words, or I'm simply afraid of what words will come out if I start typing. My head, heart, and soul are all speaking different languages right now and I have become nothing short of dizzy. In a previous blog post I spoke of the stages of grief. Originally when I wrote that I took off of the top of my head the five 'standard' stages of grief I had remembered being taught in school. Apparently, much like there are no longer nine planets, there are now six stages of grief. I had ignored that point when I did a Google search then, because at that time I was ignoring this other stage. This other stage is guilt.

Guilt is something that is tearing at my heart in massive title waves, and yet at the same time is so very still and quiet I can hardly tell it's there. Guilt is where all the other feelings end. I feel guilty about being sad. I feel guilty about being angry. I feel guilty about being happy. I feel guilty about being motivated, or being lazy. I feel all sorts of hideous guilt about parenting. Every time an emotion arises, I accept it, move into it, and try to let it wash over me. . .and without fail at the end of that feeling is guilt. One of the things I feel most guilty for in this moment is questioning God.

Those of you who are very close to me know I'm on a journey right now, one that is painful. Some of you might view this as refinement. Some regard it a beautiful transformation. Some, I think, might fear it dangerous. Some of you are unaware I'm on it at all.

This path that I'm walking down is not one that is new to me after Matt's death, but it is certainly something that I had feared ever voicing (apart from with my closest friends) prior to that point. Please understand, that when I say I am questioning God; this is not a statement of questioning my faith, God as creator, or his absolute holiness. I am questioning the God I have grown up with, the God I prayed to before Matt died, the God I have attributed qualities to that I'm beginning to feel unsure I have the power to actual attribute. In some ways the God I knew before Matt, died with him. And yes, I understand that is a scary statement. What I am going through right now in my faith is just that. . .scary.

There is something amazing happening through this process though, and it brings me to Galatians. Here are a few passages that stood out (but the whole thing is worth a quick read;)

2:20 'For I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me'

3:28 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus'

5:14 'For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF'.

5:22 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.'

6:2 'Bear one another's burdens'.

During a sermon I listened to today from Revolution Church, Jay Bakker made a comment in regards to bearing the image of Christ. He said, "It's saying to someone, I'm willing to take a risk for you because you're worth it." Because you're worth it. . .Because maybe even I'm worth it? Isn't that truly a desire we all hold dear to our hearts, wondering if other people think we are worth the risk? The thing is we all know we are broken, we all know we are sinners, we all know we will let you down. . .and worse? We all know we aren't worthy. And I'm standing here today because despite the darkness I'm enveloped in right now, there are people in my life who for some crazy reason seem to think I'm worth the risk.

Those people. . .the ones praying for me, talking with me late into the night, searching for people around me with the answers, and for those seeking people for me to just ask more questions . . .those people are a testimony to Christ. These people are bearing Christ in a way I have never seen before. They are being Christ in a way that I want to be desperately.

I don't want to find an answer to who is right or wrong on this journey, because I don't think it matters. I think what matters is who we make feel worthy of the risk to love. I wonder what would happen if we would start treating each person we crossed paths with, or each of our friends, or each of our family members as if they just incurred a devastating loss in their life? What if we treated each other with the tender care, kindness, and respect a widow gets treated? One thing I have learned already is that loss comes in all shapes, sizes, and under a lot of names. Divorce, losing a job, sleep deprivation, becoming an empty nest-er, friendships that have ceased, death of all sorts. . .the list goes on and on, some are bigger than others, but they all create pain, they all create a hole in our soul. And that hole needs to be filled.

And what that hole is filled with perhaps isn't always the Spirit (and perhaps it is), but perhaps it is a friend who understands your pain and just remains in that darkness with you without judgment or shying away, or the person who shows up at your door when you didn't answer the phone, or the couple who watches your kid for a couple hours when they know you need it, or the people who volunteer to deliver meals at church, or the friend who takes you out just because they know you need to get prettied up, or the people who give their time and resources to you because they know it is needed. Christ is showing up in my life all over the place right now, and I am so grateful for that. But he is not showing up in his word, or in worship, or in prayer -- he is showing up in YOU.

This is what I long for in my life. I still don't have nearly all the answers I want, and maybe I never will. But I can tell you this: I'm not searching for 'right' or 'wrong', I don't want to be 'in' or 'out', I beginning to not care if I am 'orthodox' or a 'heretic'. . .all I want is to look like Jesus in my relationships with friends and family, and to those people I encounter that I don't know. I want to look like what all my in and out, right and wrong, orthodox and heretic, christian and non-christian friends look like to me right now. . .in this very moment of my life.


Sarah said...

Such a sweet post Steph. I love your desire to want to be Jesus to others even while you are experiencing such pain. You are definitely a light to many:)
I so wish I lived closer!
xoxoxox Sarah Ball

Anonymous said...

You may feel you are discovering a 'different' God from the one you knew before Matt, but perhaps you could look at it as though you are discovering 'more' of God than you previously knew.

The way in which you are gaining this new understanding of God is aweful. However, God knows you are strong enough to uncover these new layers to him and share your learnings with the rest of us.

YOU have a great gift and are doing wonderful things with this gift. Never feel guilty for sharing this with us. ~Thank you...

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie, I just found your blog through my friends blog. I also live in Minnesota, and I'm so sorry for your loss and what you're going through. I'm praying for you.


Michelle said...

Hey Steph,
Its Michelle, I finally found your blog. Your writing is simply amazing. As a friend miles away, I do feel helpless. I can't stop by daily, I can't expect you to update me daily. I think of you and your kids every single day. I can't believe you have to wake up everyday and face such hurt. I know you are doing your best. Some days I feel guilty for enjoying a moment with my husband near. I know you would say embrace it Michelle. Its hard to have simple happiness when I try to know your hurt. I love and pray for you. Can't wait to see you again soon. Love you.........

Anonymous said...

I found your post by seeing your comment on rob bells blog. I dont know you.. but my heart hurts with you. May your broken heart learn to sing loud and strong and true, may Grace deeper and wider than you ever imagined light up your life in a darker time than you could have imagined. I am on a similar journey, of walking through hell and back, of losing and finding, faith, love , "God" and myself. May you know your not alone and the love of Christ surprise you in unexpected,in between broken places.

Anonymous said...

I hope that one day this blog will be published as a book. For it is a balm to the soul for many who are hurting and dealing with loss and grief. And most of all questioning the faith they grew up with (as you said).

These trials and tribulations are given to us as we "work out our salvation". (Phil 2:12) Yes it is true we do not earn our salvation by works, but this working out is to the expression of one's salvation In spiritual growth and development. "Salvation is not merely a gift received once for all; it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which the believer is strenuously involved." NIV footnote for Phil 2:12.

You are in the throes of a HUGE test in the process of perseverance, spiritual growth and maturation. I continue to pray you will work it out to the finish Steph! If the caterpillar in the cocoon does not go through the struggle of breaking out - the metamorphosis - his wings will not develop properly and he will NEVER be able to fly and be a fully mature butterfly! Thank YOU for sharing your metamorphosis process with us. God Bless you for your transparency!

A Young Widow's Rant said...

The love I feel for those encouraging me through this journey is so great, so thank you all for that.

I will absolutely embrace the idea of going through a metamorphosis! I hope to find myself on the other side of this journey with wings bright and beautiful. I also hope that my story can be shared by way of a book someday, God willing:)