You should have seen the look on his face when my wife and I told our son he was going to be a big brother. He was elated. Even though he was little, the idea of another tiny human looking up to him filled him joy and he couldn't wait to meet his baby brother or sister.
Knowing this, it made the task that much more difficult when days later we had to sit him down and tell him that his baby sibling had gone to Heaven. He didn't cry. He was sad in his own introspective way but over the coming days and weeks he would ask his mother and me questions about the baby brother or baby sister he never got to hold.
You should have seen Dad with our son. They were the closest of friends. Papa was our boy's hero, and he wanted to be like him and do things like him - just like me when I was little when I would look up to Dad with eyes full of wonder. If there was an adventure to be had, Papa was going to root it out and off they'd go.
Knowing this, it took every conceivable ounce of physical and emotional strength when we had to tell our son Papa was with Jesus. He knew Papa was very sick but it never entered his young mind he'd never see him again. This time, he cried. We all did. I'm so thankful he remembers his Papa but I also realize there's so much they should have gotten to do together.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, I heard a song recently that seemed to encapsulate the very real and honest spiritual struggles I've face over the past years. It's a song called Kind by Cory Asbury and if you wouldn't mind indulging me for a moment - I'd love for you to take a listen to it...
Sometimes marriages don't work
And sometimes babies die
Sometimes rehab turns to relapse
And you're left just asking why
And for all the prayers I've prayed
I still wonder if He's real
And if He is how is He choosing
Who He does and doesn't heal
I feel like this song was largely written from my life experience.
As wonderful as my parents are, their marriage didn't work out. I spent my childhood weeks with one and every other weekend with another. It wasn't ideal, but they both did the best they could to give me as close to a normal family experience as possible - but that's another post for another time.
My wife and I walked through not one, but two miscarriages. And though we never held our babies in our arms, the hurt and pain, the disappointment and feeling of abandonment were very real. The clinical description of those losses seemed to completely disregard the emotional toll it took on us, especially when we felt that we had been given a promise by God that we were not done building our family. It's such a devastatingly hard thing to watch your promise die.
I've seen what addiction can do in the lives of those closest to me and I've seen how it nearly ripped mine apart. It is scary how quickly we feel we can control the little compromises without fully understanding they're only controlling us. But again, another post for another time.
When Dad got sick, there was no lack of faith. God was going to heal him and he was going to be fine. It's not that bad. Even when he went into the hospital, the idea that he'd never come home didn't even register in my thought processes. I had constructed walls of trust built on firm foundations - walls of which I thought no amount of uncertainty could scratch.
Then, the phone call he had to be put on a ventilator. I looked up and suddenly a chip appeared in the walls I had built. Then, a phone call that he needed to be moved to the main hospital downtown because he wasn't improving. Another piece falls as cracks begin to spread. Then, the conversation that there were infections, failing systems, irreversible damage. Whole blocks and bricks began to turn to dust. Then, the last conversation as we had to let go of a man who had so much life left to live. Suddenly, I found myself in the midst of ruined expectations and broken trust - a broken man sitting amongst the rubble of a shattered faith. A once strong faith now brought low because it appeared that our prayers didn't warrant a miraculous answer from a God that I heard all my life was loving and compassionate.
With this context in mind, I hope you don't judge me too harshly when I tell you that I was so angry at God. I knew in my mind that I didn't have a truly logical reason to mad be at Him, but my heart was broken and I was searching for anything or anyone to direct it's malice toward. I decided God had seemingly let me down since I was a child, so why not direct it towards Him. I mean, come on - broken homes, broken habits, broken hearts, broken trust - what other conclusion should I have come to?
The amazing thing about God is that I pointed my spotlight of anger and confusion and frustration towards Him and He responded with kindness. It took me weeks to pray, and yet, He responded with kindness. I questioned Him and He responded with kindness. I avoided Him and He responded with kindness. I cried and He responded with kindness.
I'm learning that maybe I didn't fully know God or Jesus and that it wasn't Him who broke my trust or fell short of my expectations - it's that those things were never really properly placed to begin with. I was angry, not because He did anything wrong, but because He didn't meet a perceived idea of what I thought He should do. And therein lies the problem - me.
Now, I still hurt and I still grieve. But I also am so thankful that even throughout these seemingly broken chapters of life, Christ has written in moments and glimpses of His kindness, love, and compassion. I couldn't see them at the time, but they were there nevertheless. I'm so thankful He's always responded to me with kindness and love. I'm so thankful to understand that His amazing grace isn't just for everyone else. It's for me. His grace is sufficient for me. It covers, specifically, my hurts and pains and disappointments. It's unbelievable and yet all-together true.
What does this mean for you? Well, I suppose only you know the answer to that question. If He's only ever been kind to me, then He's only ever been kind to you. If His grace is sufficient for my faults, then it's more than sufficient for yours. If you've been hurt by life and felt like God has abandoned you, you're not alone in that feeling. If you feel like feeling that way disqualifies you from truly knowing the depths and riches of God's love and grace and mercy, please know nothing could be further from the truth.
God loves you. Jesus loves you. He loves you so much He willingly gave up His life, specifically for you. Why? Love. Kindness.
Even though I don't deserve it, He's never been anything but kind.