The following is an attempt to answer a question posed by a reader in response to this post. The question: How could I still believe at all?
I love being able to take pen to paper or pound on a key board. I love using words to communicate feelings, describe emotions, and work out meaning and understanding.
That I am not alone in seeking something better and more complete makes the process that much sweeter.
For the longest time I felt all alone. I was the only person I knew who had experienced the murder of spouse and child by somebody known, trusted, and invited into our home. The fact that he was a member of our church family made the horror of it all so much greater.
I felt physically and emotionally alone everywhere I went.
I was damaged goods.
The world was dark and dim.
And no matter how many times somebody said I understand your struggle and feel your pain, the truth was this: you had no idea.
I couldn’t begin yet to quantify the depth, height, and width of anguish, sorrow, and hurt. I am still discovering those dimensions–in some ways, we will not ever know how big the hurt will be. In fact, my children have a lifetime of painful moments ahead of them. Every significant event, holiday, achievement, success or failure will be a moment in time in which they will be reminded of their loss–and the brutal horror of it.
I have teased my oldest son and his wife that they are not allowed to become parents–because I am not old enough to be a grandfather. So far it is working.
But there is going to come a day when that first grandchild makes an appearance. And in the midst of happiness, I will know my son’s bitter hurt and disappointment because his mother and brother will not be there to share…
So if we can’t know yet the dimensions of our pain, how can you?
Please don’t misunderstand and think we are a family burdened by an overwrought misery. To be expected, we all have our moments. I had one last night–it was a brief time of guilt because I had such a good day. Some of you will comprehend the guilt inherent in having a day not weighed down by sorrow.
But the truth is we are all trying to live good, happy, and adjusted lives–far different than what we imagined, but good nonetheless.
Did I mention how alone I felt?
Surrounded by family and friends, you can still be the loneliest person in the world.
Especially when the most lonesome aspect is perceived abandonment by God.
Whether He was there or not, it is hard to feel Him in the grips of such grief and anger.
Initially I was bolstered by my faith. But in the next month or so as the new reality of tragic loss began to take hold, faith turned into anger.
How could a loving God let such a thing happen? Where was He when Cole was being systematically raped and abused.
That was my precious son and God stood by and did nothing.
Where was He when Cole and Karen were fighting for their lives?
Wouldn’t you have been?
Those were the times when the platitudes and sappy hope of an effortless faith meant nothing at all.
My faith loss wasn’t about disbelief in God. My loss of faith was about my understanding of God’s nature. Who was He, really? What was he really like? How could He really let such evil thrive?
No, I never quit believing in God. There is a sense in which I never quit believing He loved me.
I just didn’t understand. I can’t yet claim to understand a God who is so far beyond human comprehension.
The truth is this simple: I never realized how much hard work faith requires. Faith requires a belief and trust that God really does have your best interests at heart. I struggle with that. At the same time, I am not ready to jettison the idea of God caring for me.
So here is my conundrum…
Either I go through life empty with no hope.
Or, I try to do the hard work necessary to trust the God I don’t understand.
It is easy to be peeved and angry–it is hard to trust.
So I wrestle and limp and wrestle some more.
And have faith that one day, my limping gimpy self will trust the God I chose to serve…
Les Ferguson, Jr.