I have distinct memories from elementary school that involve me and another student after a minor disagreement on the recess yard. I’d run to the teacher as fast as I could to be the first to tell my side of the story. I’d squirm as my teacher gently pushed me towards my fellow offender as we tried to stay as far away from the other as possible. My body would be facing away from the student as we’d discuss the disagreement. I’d say anything to get out of there as quick as possible. With our eyes permanently rolled to the back of our heads, we’d reconcile. It was downright uncomfortable.
As theatrical as that might sound, I feel like I’m the squirming third grader, trying to say as far away from God as possible. I feel like I’ve been wronged. Like a good friend has utterly disappointed me. I can’t imagine lifting my head to look Him in the eye or seeking reconciliation. Rather than addressing Him, for now distance feels better. For a little while, if I use that distance to collect my thoughts and gain perspective, I think space is okay. Space away has let me understand what I expected of God, what I thought I knew of Him and where I think He’s been the last few months. How did God let my mom die? Why didn’t He protect her? Does He know how many of us are heart-broken because of this mighty loss? Does He care about our grieving hearts? Is my mom safe now? Many times the pursuit of answers and conclusions, leads to many more questions than answers. I’m grateful for the space to reflect.
Space for me has been stepping away from things that I’ve typically found solace and joy in. I’ve stopped going to my small group. Rather, I prefer to talk one-on-one with close friends. I haven’t journaled since August 17 but blogging has been a great alternative. I’ve mostly stopped praying because I have no words to pray, just tears to offer. I still enjoy going to church but always cry so try to sit near the back, rather than with a lot of friends. My spiritual walk feels more unfamiliar and new than it ever has. But what a gift to have the time to explore what my heart needs and then do just that or find an alternative. Space is healing and even still, allows me to develop as I shift.
But now, again like many times over these last few months, I feel a change coming.
I think it’s time to re-engage.
It’s as if I’m a boxer. After getting the wind knocked out of me during round one, stepping out of the ring for a water break and a few deep breaths is necessary for my physical body. Not only is it necessary, it’s also wise. Taking time to pause, adjust my strategy, bandaging up for round two requires patience to sit in the break between rounds to assess and then restore. But then, once I’ve caught my breath, hydrated and picked my head back up, it’s time to step back in. Time to fully engage with the conflict or opponent at hand. It’s not going to be easy — it is a struggle after all. For a little while, God has felt much more like an opponent than a friend. He’s felt like a competitor that I just can’t escape. But it’s getting to the point where I think I’m ready to talk about it.
For the last few months, I’ve been upset with God in defense of my mom, angry for the way I perceived He let her down. Almost as if I’m fighting a battle I was never engaged in to begin with but have taken up the sword in her honor. I’m not sure I’ll reconcile this any time soon but I have also recognized that I’ve not considered that even in death, there is relief in heaven. In my mind since August 18, death has had the final say. I lived and reacted as if my mom’s story ended at a cemetery.
But her life also began anew.
My mom is in heaven. I know that as sure as I know my name. She’s safe. She’s at peace. She’s not anxious. She certainly isn’t burdened by clinical depression. My mom is free. How long can I stay upset about that? I don’t believe we are ever supposed to accept or get used to death. But I do believe that we can be joyful again, albeit in a way we never would have expected or wanted, without the physical presence of someone we love. What I’d give to see my mom just one more day or for even one last hug. I’d truly give anything. And what perspective that gives me. What matters? The things I have or the life I’m living. I will see my mom in heaven but until then, I have a reason to be on this earth and I’m determined to find it and live it out.
Whistling: Jamming to this song all the live long day.