Five or six months ago Trever and I had dinner with our friend Kathleen. It was right in the middle of receiving all of the worst news about Colette and we were kind of spinning and emotional. The future was extremely unknown and the encouragement from everyone was to trust God because we would find our peace there. Of course there was no peace in that moment as most grievers know, straight out of the gate is reserved for the roller coaster of anger, grief, confusion, questioning and the like.
I remember I was trying to fix it all. Doing my best to put all my emotions in order and find helpful answers to my questions. Christians in the sunny bright of the day were doing their best to get me to a place of peace with all their encouragement. It was like someone put me in dark room and from the other side of the door people were telling me that I should be able to see light so long as I looked hard enough, because they themselves were seeing the light perfectly fine. So I was grasping for clarity and progressing in no way accept to wear myself out even further.
So, back to Kathleen. Trever and I were processing all that was happening and I remember that she really accepted that we had all these questions and that in fact she was not interested in, or capable of, answering them for us. She understood the truth that these answers would only come by way of a Divine gift. So, she told us to write our prayers and questions down, to accept our incapacity to find answers to our great questions about God and instead ask him to answer them. Essentially throw our hands in the air and in a ‘no vote’ for me, ask for intervention.
I did it. I wrote my prayers down and forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago when I opened it up and read it. I had this bizarre connection to the words because they made so much sense to me. I remember clearly being in the place I was when I wrote those prayers but I don’t think I realized how far I had come since then. It was like I stood against the doorframe and realized that somehow I had grown two inches since the last pencil hash mark and I had no idea it had happened. Here’s a little excerpt:
I haven’t prayed because I don’t know what to say, and probably partly because the only control I have is giving you the cold shoulder for what has happened. I feel like a fool for ever believing you intervene and I feel like a fool for thinking this baby was a miracle. I feel like a fool because I let the pregnancy help me with my unbelief and I shouted it from the rooftops, when in fact just a layer below lie the truth of doubt and confusion that was exposed by the searing affect of pain. I’ve been told to allow you to bring a wisdom and understanding that I can’t gain on my own. It’s a risky game but I suppose it’s all I’ve got.
And then I go on in even less articulate ways to hash through my questions. Pleasant isn’t it?
There is a chapter in Mere Christianity about faith. C.S. Lewis starts out by telling the reader that if they’re not in the place where this chapter makes sense then to just pass it by. The reason being that one can only truly understand some questions and concepts of faith when one is on the other side of them. When we have accepted our bankruptcy and understand that we cannot conjure up answers to questions or brainiac our way to faith, it’s then that we are open in a different way to new forms of understanding. Suffering is one such way of exposing our bankruptcy so that all we have is to open our hands and beg for meaning.
I was talking to my friend Nick about this because I remember meeting with him days after all the horrible doctors appointments. I was badgering him with questions for how to get through everything. I needed a formula so I asked him for books and he laughed and said, “there’s nothing I can give you that will get you through this.” So I asked him how he got through his own suffering because maybe that would give me answers. He responded but not in a very satisfying way, he sort of just said he did. He talked a little about the peace that he came to but it was in another language for all it meant to me.
It wasn't until I read these prayers and reflected on who I am now that I finally understand Nick and Kathleen’s silence. I understand that there was nothing they could say. I understand that there is no formula. I understand I was incapable of understanding. I understand that if they had tried to explain whatever process they have been through it would have been incomprehensible in any real meaningful way, because I could only learn through the release and through the receiving of understanding via nothing but the grace of God. As C.S. Lewis says, “All this trying leads up to the vital moment which you turn to God and say, ‘You must do this, I can’t.’ It is the change from being confident about our own efforts to the state in which we despair of doing anything for ourselves and leave it to God.” We typically only get here because we are forced to, but it creates in us a desperation that we would never choose and yet it's the only thing that finally allows us to grow.
I’ve grown a few inches, but of course the truth is I’m quite happy with my current height. I don't want to learn anything in the coming weeks through pain, I want bailed out. I would like to stay at my height for a good long while. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come but would like to take a break. I had really bad growing pains when I was little. I hated them. I will always hate them. But I suppose it's the only way I stopped having the stature of a child.