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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting to the Root

This post will be hard for Matt's family, my faith community, possibly his friends, and no doubt his children when they are old enough to read through my writings regarding their father. However, I will selfishly claim that there is no one that this is harder for than me. I plead for your understanding, that in this place, I need to write this out. I need to let this go; out from within me, in hopes that I can get at the root of my grief. . .the breaking of my faith. . .and truly the ground on which I stand. I have started, stopped, erased, rewrote, reread, erased, started over, deleted, and repeated writing this post since this blog has started. It will be painful, but here goes.

Matt was not by conservative evangelical orthodox standards 'saved'. There are people who are reading this that might think, 'That isn't true, I was there when he accepted Christ'. Which he did - often. Whenever he would say that special acceptance prayer at church, on the way home I would always ask him about his actions in that. Most often his response would be, 'Well, I felt bad. I wanted to make sure the pastor felt as though they saved someone today.' It was about two weeks prior to Matt's death that we spoke of Christ in his life, it was on January 22. He told me that I shouldn't rush him, that he wasn't ready to accept that Jesus was God, that he didn't want to conform to the laws of the Bible, and that "he needed more time".

He needed more time.

I used a lot of words he didn't use, because as Matt would say, "He could never explain things as well as me." But it's what he said none the less. He did, however, use the exact statement of needing more time. That is the definition of ironic, right?

I would like to first honor my father by recognizing that he gave me peace in the first moments following Matt's death, because this was the first thought that haunted me. He assured me that we are unable to judge another's heart, that where Matt was at in his walk, and where he was in his relationship with Christ is beyond our knowing. He was right. . .and yet, I still wonder if my faith re-evaluation (for lack of a better term) is rooted right here, right in this very issue.

So the way I see it there are only two options for those who stand up and behind those things we hold true . . . 1) Sit across from a 31 year old widow who is broken beyond belief and say, "Don't worry (Matthew 6, right?). Your husband is burning in a fiery hell. He is in complete and utter agony, being tortured, and will remain there for eternity." Or . . . 2) You can lie to me. I may have been the only one, but I knew Matt's true heart condition (some of which I was blind or stupid to until after his death). I know that his heart condition, the God I grew up with, the Bible I believe in fully, does not place him with the Jesus I pick up my cross for daily. And this is why I am SO angry.

I'm angry at Matt for not following me closer in this faith walk I was on prior to his death. I'm mad at myself for not loving him more fully, in a way that would have brought him to Jesus. I'm angry at God for taking him (sorry dad) before he was ready to leave this Earth. . .'ready' from a Christian perspective. I am angry. Angry about just this issue. So angry that I am now questioning e v e r y t h i n g I thought I knew to be true. I could be questioning in search of a false comfort, or maybe I'm questioning because this doesn't line up with the savior I have loved, and have known so dearly, my whole life.

Completely Utterly Ugly Raging Disgustingly Angry.

Here is what is worse. Matt was a great person. He struggled with worldly crap his whole life long. Some of this worldly crap were choices, some were things he was born into, some were things he was born with. But he tried. He tried so hard. He tried hard for me, he tried hard for the kids; that I know. He made people laugh, he made me laugh, his kids laugh. He was fun and energetic, and never gave up on people. He worked hard (although only on things that he wanted to work hard on). He was full of life. . . I would have called it life giving life.

So there you have it. Written out for the world to see. My husband, whom I loved ridiculously, is either burning in Hell. . .or everything I thought I knew as truth was wrong. Welcome to the chaos that is now my mind. I wrote in a previous post about how it felt for me to have my marriage torn. And these two painful realities are intertwined in a very close way. Before Matt's death I felt an unexplainable peace in prayer. I would get on my knees, close my eyes, and invite the Spirit in. I would tell him my worries, requests, and plead for healing for those I loved. Now when I close my eyes and beckon for him I want to talk to him about Matt, but what peace is there in a conversation regarding the eternal torment of my beloved? If God bound us together on Earth, death has torn us apart, and now he is suffering for his lack of surrender to Jesus on Earth. . .how can this not be a lifelong burden for me to suffer as well? (and maybe it just will be)

I have felt God is calling me to explore this fear, or pain, or irreconcilable part of my grief. Now whether he is calling me to help those also in 'need of more time' to understand that there is nothing scary about God's love -- it is GOOD NEWS! Jesus saves, Jesus restores, Jesus brings peace. . .and Jesus is unchanging. He is waiting and ready for you now, don't wait. . .if only for the sake of those who love you.

Or. . . .

Is he calling me to explore the thought that maybe love does win. That maybe the God we serve is bigger than the box we put him in, maybe he is still winning Matt's heart, or that maybe he does desire to reconcile ALL things, including Matt, to him (regardless of how that looks).

I don't know, but I'm not giving up. Things have been extremely hard for me the last three weeks now. I am depressed. I am lonely. I am confused. I am tired, scared, overwhelmed, anxious, and angry. I'm in a place of wanting to get past this, and knowing 'getting past this' is not a choice, but more a matter of time. There is a deep soul awaking within this grief. One that calls me to not let his death be in vain, to listen to my heart and move! I don't know what that movement is yet, and some days I want to ignore it and crawl in bed. But I desire to follow it, to resist the urge to become complacent. I want the reflection of Christ shining through my life, even now, even when the darkness is so thick in my writing it is hard to swallow. My appreciation for just allowing me to share this fear is unexplainable, so thank you.

A song that sings to me right now.

10 comments:

Dad said...

You're doin what you need to do, and that's good, I love you honey. There's a hundred verses I'm thinking of right now but no single one that'll answer every question. But here's a start.. "With man this is impossible, but with God !!!!!!"
Arminian boxes are small and uncomfortable, but mostly empty!

Heather said...

I am so proud of you for allowing yourself to process. Grief as we talked about often feels like a volcanic eruption that is impossible to push down or cap. I too have been challenged by the God that I knew and have come to know all over again. I do believe with all my heart that God is the only entity that can see into a man's heart. He's been there from the day of conception to the day He takes our last breath. He knows us. He knows why we've chosen what we've chosen whether right or wrong. We do not see with unseen eyes, even though there are times I think it would be helpful and altogether frightening. I do trust God, the maker of all the complexities of creation. He is faithful and just. Its hard to find rest what we can't see or don't have answers too. I had a friend post this to me today and I really had to think about it because there is so much brokenness and loss and yet... 'Help me not to get so mentally stuck on what I want, that I miss what You had planned all along.' Believing that God is sovereign. No one knows what happens as our spirit leaves our body and we are faced with the very God that we adore, fear, hate, or treasure. Is it than that we make our final eternal decision? Or is it while we are conscious to it with our earthly body? All I know is that God is God. I either trust Him will ALL things or I don't. And there are many days, and I hate to confess it, that I don't. Fear and pain over-ride anything sane and stable. God has chosen YOU and your children to walk through this journey. I pray that you have the gift of friendships that allow you to grieve and questions, allow you to search for answers and dig in places of your heart you had no idea where even there. You have become a dear friend and I can honestly write that I am excited to see where God is taking our journeys. So I say, bring on the lava flow girl!!! The volcanic eruption is part of the awesome journey. He will be faithful to complete the work He started!!!

Anonymous said...

I wondered the same for my cousin...who was also one of my best friends...though I never got the chance to ask him where his heart was when it came to Christ...but I urge you to remember that many times in church the pastors (with the lights and all) can't even see us in the congregation. It is quite possible that in his heart of hearts he was asking to be saved. And perhaps Matt just said that because he felt that his faith could not compare to yours...it is a sad yet so very common thought among all of us as christians. Does someone else love God more? Understand Him more? The truth is that we DONT KNOW the truth. We won't until we sit at that wonderous table with the Lord himself. We don't know how God speaks to others or when and if that ever stops. My faith showed me that. We can be angry. We can question God...it will just allow us to grow in Him for He will not forsake us. Tread on precious princess of the King of kings!

A Young Widow's Rant said...

Dad - I love you too! Thank you (and mom) for your support, for all you've taught me about my faith, and for continuing to hold my hand through this scary time.

Heather - I love you too friend. Your words brought me to tears. I will let the lava flow :-)

Amy Bergstrom said...

Stephanie~
Christ is shining SO brightly through you, even in your pain and raw honesty. It is there that we can all think a little closer about our walk. I continue to be amazed at the way you embrace this journey, not because you want to but because you are faithful and honoring to your maker. Putting this out there will, indeed, help others. In may be in ways that you will never know but it will help. More time...that hits me hard. All I ever long for is more time. That has really given me something to chew on today. More time to tell others about Jesus, more time to spiritually pour into my children, more time to strengthen my relationship with God, more time...
Thank you, you are absolutely precious and I will continue to pray for your journey. I just know that your faithfullness is making your God proud. Well done, my friend! Love you!

Michelle said...

Steph,
It sounds like you might be getting to your deep feeling which is normal and healthy. I'm sorry you feel so angry, again very normal. On a lighter note.....BE FANCY FOR A DAY... IT FEELS GOOD... All my love girl...

Cringle® said...

I am a member of Widowed village, I saw your link and I must say your bold honesty is refreshing and will halp others be honest too.
Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry for your lost.

I hope you do not mind, but I would like to say one other thing about what you wrote.

You said, "the Savior I have loved and known"... Have you ever thought perhaps, that He wouldn't be much of a savior, if he couldn't save the unsavable? From what you have said, it seems to me that perhaps your husband placed his faith in you, and because you believe so strongly in God, You may very well have been his proxy to God.
I know this is not popular belief, but It is what I believe. It seems from your writtings, as if your husband wanted to be all he should be with his whole heart, and God judges our hearts, not our mental view on religion.

I hope I have not offended you in anyway. That was not my intent. I lost my husband in November 2010, he was, at best, agnostic, he also took his own life, but; their is no doubt in my spirit that he is now with God...

May you find your peace and strength in the loving arms of our Father...

Anonymous said...

"For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1 Cor 7:14) My Bible footnote says, "The unbelieving partner is influenced by the godly life of the Christian partner; so that family is under the holy influence of the believer and in that sense is sanctified."
The Apostle Paul is "citing a command in this passage from the Lord Jesus during his earthly ministry that married couples must stay together" (even though one may not be a believer).

I hope you find comfort in the Lord Jesus' words here through Paul. Bless you for sharing your fear with honesty. For only then can the healing grace of God bring you the peace that passeth understanding. I believe, from what the Scriptures teach, your husband will be waiting for you when the Lord calls you home. He has been sanctified (made holy) through your faith my dear.

Rom 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

It is impossible to get beyond God's loving reach. The Lord Bless you. Will keep praying for you in your struggle as the Holy Spirit (the Helper, the Counselor given to us after Christ was resurrected from the dead and returned to the right hand of the Father) assists you as you build the solid foundation of YOUR faith.

A Young Widow's Rant said...

To my friends - Thank you again and again for encouraging me, and reassuring me, that you love and support me. My life would simply be no where without you all!

Anonymous - 1 Cor 7:14 Thank you for this reminder. I will hold it, and your words, close to my heart! Much love.

Pam Hogeweide said...

Mercy triumphs and Love and Grace do not end at death. I live with the hope that our Father in heaven won't allow one son or daughter to be left out of eternity for than God himself would still weep for the one's missing.

Love does win.

You are a beautiful writer. Thank you for your gift to us of the grief you are processing publicly. Too often our grieving friends shut themselves away. Your voice is undoubtedly light for others.