Learning to be Thankful
As we absorb and comprehend the massive loss we are suffering in this time, thoughts can whirl when trying to find starting points for conversations. And if I can't figure out how to answer my own questions, I feel sorry for friends who want to help but are unsure what to ask. So I am sure some opportunities to connect are stifled because of awkwardness.
"People communications" are not the only thing suffering. This Thanksgiving week I've been asking how and what to be thankful for ...and while looking to God I've also discovered an awkwardness in speaking with Him.
(who's fault is that?)
Usually when I want to seek important answers from God, I go through a process of evaluating my relationship with Him. Where am I? Am I even listening? Has He already been trying to tell me things that I have been ignoring? Am I being stupid, distracted, selfish, presumptuous...? I need His grace and forgivness to clear away guilt and His Spirit to give me boldness to approach Him.
Last night I had to admit something new to God. I confessed that I'm having a hard time feeling loved by Him. I'm ashamed of this, because I know He hasn't changed, but some of my proclamations of faith are ringing hollow to my own ears. I'm wondering if, when something this awful occurs like losing a fight for life, that you temporarily just blurt things out based on habit? People around you might say "wow ...those people have such strong faith" but if they only really knew that the words you said were simply just what came out of your mouth from memory or what you think is the way you should be feeling.
So I am used to saying that God is good, and although I have experienced God's goodness in the past, the reality is that in July, August, September, and October He was not answering our prayers the way I really wanted. Through those months faith was getting strained for I kept seeing in hindsight that there were little things with God's help I "could have prevented" or "could have done" for Jaymun that would have had tremendous impact. I wondered why He wasn't helping when we were all asking? Maybe I wasn't listening properly but then doesn't He know how imperfect we are? Wasn't He our Champion? Why did he let us (parents / doctors) make mistakes? Couldn't He see we were all trying? Didn't He give us this great love for Jaymun?
Looking around our house, Jennifer has done a wonderful job surrounding us with reminders of family blessings. There is much to be thankful for. Our family looks into each others eyes every day sharing new love, trust, and appreciation that builds upon and validates past memories. But I see that it has been hard for me to look around creation and meet the eyes of my Father above, because just last month we asked Him for something very important, and He declined to answer.
We have before experienced the tremendous validation of miraculous deliverances, but unfortunately now also know that great losses shake and trouble in ways that cannot be ignored. And so I continue telling others that I trust Him (and I think I do), but there is certain part of me that is struggling to appreciate His actions. The same part wearied by mental gymnastics - tempted either to ignore realities of this loss, or to back away from authentic relationship with God.
Outside the seasons keep changing. As I stood this morning gazing out the patio windows towards Melius Creek, the brown November fields, the cold wind sweeping through the branches of the pines ...I asked God again why?
And there was no answer. I told Him I feel so alone. This is the crux of the matter.
We are thankful for family because we are not alone. We fought for Jaymun so he would be safe with us. I suppose I distrust God's love because I feel like He left us alone. Alone in our struggle, and now alone without our boy. And we hurt, oh we hurt because Jaymun is not here. We look at his pictures, his videos and we remember. And the feeling of loss is so acute, the pain of being without him, of missing his jubilant personality is so great.
Turning from the warm pictures on the wall to look out and watch cold winter approach, I asked God again "...how could you leave us alone, hurting like this?" And I felt His heart, His love "tell me son, how much it hurts ...I understand, I know." I caught a glimpse of a truth I'm still trying to absorb and one hard to articulate, how simultaneously pulling Jaymun into His lap and opening His heart to share our pain brings us all closer. What intense sorrow, love, and comfort are uttered and transferred through moments with Him that ignite fires of a greater hope warming us through waning time.
Thanksgiving has risen to a whole new level of seriousnesss. Jaymun is not here,
and once again I wonder how many of the words in my prayers before were real?
What do I assume when I ask God to keep us safe?
Am I really appreciative of what He has done for us this year?
It is one thing to boast of a relationship with a powerful and loving God (as I have before)
...quite another to discover that His love is required for a whole new level of spiritual life-support
as He chose to allow this misery and to suffer along with us, rather than prevent it from happening.
Last November thanking was easy ...this November
I'm learning again