Confession: Sometimes I have what I would consider to be a vibrant relationship with God, and I hear from him and he is precious to me, but when I go to church I feel nothing and I cannot find him.
The past few months have found me in the opposite place, and I find him only with the people.
When the upheavals of December-January hit us, and we went from full-time parenting six children to full-time parenting three in five weeks’ time, the Lord drew near and I trusted him and it burned like fire but I knew he was there. I knew he was doing things I couldn’t see.
Six months have passed, and loss has become a permanent way of living. I am grateful for every bit of grace we’ve experienced: the progress my son is making at camp and how much I love him and how much he wants to work hard and get home; and the unexpected joy of staying in touch with our two foster children, finding ways to move forward and play nice. But I find myself no closer to understanding any part of our painful story and I am tired and I am numb.
I have hope for my son because he is in good hands and God is moving in his heart, but I cannot protect him and I cannot save him and if this doesn’t work I don’t have a backup plan.
And I am not the mother of my two, my two. When I reach for my children in my mind they are gone, like a tooth, like a limb. Missing. I can love others and I can be a mom again but I do not get them back, they are irreplaceable and gone and they are not mine. These days, I remember what it felt like and I come up with pseudo solutions in my mind – if we had done this or this, maybe we could have kept them. I am dreaming.
I have nightmares of babies I must save, of the backs of people I love as they walk away from me, of crucial things forgotten, of impossible tasks I cannot complete.
The sweet presence of Christ has turned to fury in my heart, and I have nothing to say to him. What does it mean to say he is Good? Who does this to their child?
I too have turned my child over to hard things, and I too have let him cry into his pillow and sometimes I hate myself for that. But all the while I talk to him and I say Only a little longer and I love you and You are precious to me and I am always here and What a good job you are doing and My son.
What can you say to a father when you don’t have a word and you don’t hear a word and the fury and the pain are ice and blood in your heart?
I do not like to talk about this. Most of the time I must write of other things so I can live and function and so that I can go through the next motions. But it is always there.
So I go to church because I am the pastor’s wife and because it is the next thing and because I teach Sunday school. And I cry there. Every week. Because I know the Lord is there in a way that I don’t know he is there on Monday. There are people around me with the voices of angels and they sing. They pray. The songs have true things in them and I cry. There is a newborn baby there, and a silver-haired layman reading the Word in a polo shirt, and an insightful pastor I am in love with, and a friend who will ask how I am doing. It is the only place I can hear his voice and I do not expect it but he is always kind.
Last Sunday he showed me a picture of Jesus dying on the cross. We sang a horrid line writhing in anguish and pain and I thought See? Who does that to their child? And he said No one saw what the Father experienced when his child hung dripping and If there was another way I would do it and You are a participant of our suffering. I am not the god who stands back and moves the world into pain. Healing comes from sacrifice – our sacrifice your healing, your sacrifice their healing. It is the only way and You join me.
Then I could see for a moment.
I could see that in the silence and the desertion and the anger I am still a friend of God – and seeing, I have almost enough grace for Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday, until Sunday comes back again.
And we sing: Does Jesus care when my heart is pained Too deeply for mirth or song, As the burdens press, and the cares distress, And the way grows weary and long…
Our story’s not the same but I get this.
Then He whispers ‘ My grace is sufficient’
Oh dear, brave warrior, you speak words of truth,you are fighting the hardest of battles, I don’t have the right words, but I feel your courage, your gut-wrenching honesty, your pain. Keep speaking words of truth! May God surround you today with himself.
“…our sacrifice your healing, your sacrifice their healing” I have it in my journal less poetically, “He died for me, so how can I refuse to die for them? After all, this is how I participate in redemption’s story.” I feel encouraged just knowing that someone else is fighting for the same thing.
♥️ I know the fury you talk about.
Thanks Shari. I love how candidly, how honestly you speak about your walk with God. It goes right to the core. And then, the flicker of hope your journey offers with those words of truth. “My sacrifice, your healing. Your sacrifice, their healing.” Wow. Heartwrenching but beautiful.
Amen. Oh, Amen. I share your Sunday through your words. He sees my broken faith and someday we will be healed. Thank you!
Thank you for being honest and for trying to put this into words. I haven’t experienced a lot of what you have, but I still get this. And it reminds me that now we see through a dark glass, but SomeDay, face to face. Someday, we will Know, even as we are KNOWN. It also reminds me that suffering seems to be God’s path to grace and growth. Prayers and hugs. And thank God for His people, who are His hands and feet and voice. Sarah
Drinking in these words you use to describe what goes on in one’s innermost being when hard times take over. Interesting to me is that you too give testimony to a keen sense of His presence when the upheavals first hit. “Even though it felt like fire”, He was there and you knew it, yes. But all this eventually followed by a season of icy-hearted, weary numbness. I get this. Where does He go? Why does He leave about the time the hard thing settles in for the long haul? Why does He turn His face away? Love how you see glimpses of Him at church and with the people, this is so beautiful. “I have nightmares of babies I must save, of the backs of people I love as they walk away from me, of crucial things forgotten, of impossible tasks I cannot complete”- I crave the perfect words to give accurate depiction to the ache inside; you delivered.
❤️ I have not known your particular pain, but I’ve known mine and I know the anger and incredulity.
Thank you for speaking this.
I think it’s wonderful that He gave you a peek. Those little glimpses are like the elven lembas.
this post reads like a psalm of david. wide range of emotion, and the end: coming back to where God is.
Thank you for your honesty! It’s a blessing to hear you grappling, struggling, and hearing from Him-sometimes His whisper, sometimes through His people.
God help us all to be real and take hold of Him!
You put into words so much of my experiences in the past three years. Your honesty is a comfort to me.
Tears. As I read, I kept thinking that there’s intimacy in anger. And “reviling is a kind of praise” which is a line of a poem that I forget. Face to face fury is more redemptive and healing, I think, than walking away, cold and hard.
Thank you for trusting us with your firey, true words in this space.♥️
“No one saw what the Father experienced when His Son hung dripping.” And I think that perhaps no one quite knows your mother pain, except the Father who suffered too! Courage Sister! He is there in the cloud and the fury.
It would be such a delight to pull up a chair and share a pot of tea, and chat. Your lines here ring with authenticity and reality. Anger seems to be one of those stages of loss and grief. We ask questions like, Who is God anyway, and what is he doing? And then oh, how the voice and words of God bring clarity and peace and comfort and calm. Thanks for sharing your heart.
I don’t even know you, but I cried. Somehow your words touched the very hidden depths…way down there where there’s pain and the words, “why, God, why? who even does this to his children?” Words we don’t want to reckon with as they’re not holy words.
Somehow grasping on to the truth that in our pain and loss our hearts grow towards heaven. Thank you for encouraging me that I’m not the only one.
Prayers! I’ve been studying Moral Injury. It was first used for the army, but they are finding doctors struggle with it too. And I am guessing Foster Parents. I have some forms/more info if you are interested. Just email me. It often shows up with symptoms like PTSD (dreams, etc) but with deeper spiritual questions (Is he good? Is He involved? Who am I? etc)
God always has a backup plan!!! I write this so that I can read it and see it for myself.
Dear Shari, Thank-you for sharing this. I was so moved. How I’ve felt that anger, that guilt, that loss, and that overwhelming longing for God to make things right. God will meet you in your pain.
Sorry. My goof. I know the desperate pain, yet you don’t want others to see your tears, and you don’t want to have a sob story, & when will God answer?! I just came through this myself, but God is faithful! Hold to His hand dear sister! Hugs and prayers ❣️
May I give your words back to you, in a different way? “But all the while He talks to you and He says Only a little longer and I love you and You are precious to me and I am always here and What a good job you are doing and My daughter.” Thank you for your honesty. One day, I may be brave enough to write like that.
These words reached way down deep into this mama’s heart. I relate so well. I, too have that child, the one I almost am crying for already, even if he isn’t gone away from home…..yet. I fear the ‘yet’. Wish I could talk with you.
I’m sorry. Prayers for you.
Shari, your words are a balm to my weary soul…. I could be the one writing this post …… word for word, line upon line, my life…heart wrenching grief, anguish and pain in my mama’ heart that so few understand, 3 living bio children, 2 little boys by adoption and 1 precious daughter living in the arms of Jesus, one “foster” daughter, out there somewhere…// our daughter, ripped from our heart and home at 15 months of age, now 12, in Philadelphia somewhere…. currently our son age 11….: residing in camp…..:. Praying for healing for him and for me as I do not even recognize the mama I have become due to his struggles I took on….. Shari I just weep right along with you and am angry, numb, fighting for Joy constantly and feeling so desperate to Feel, again….. cannot thank you enough enough for opening your heart to all of us……. I keep resonating your words of sacrificing for theirs…… so powerful so true…. sending you the warmest hug I can…????