Silence

Silence.
I relish quiet time and silence.
Time when the kids are asleep.
Time when and the TV’s are not blaring.
Precious time to think, process, write and rewrite.
Time to just breathe…
Time when silence is in fact, golden.

Golden, yes, but not when it comes to prayer.
Silence is painful then.
Silence is a reminder of an empty void.
Silence serves as a jarring notice that while we still pray, we also still want and need, wonder and question.

If I had a dime for every time I cried out to God on Cole’s behalf…
Obviously it’s not the money I would like to see.
Not the money at all.

But my prayers for Cole were all of a similar nature.
To be normal.
To be like the other kids.
To be able to run, walk, climb, and jump.
To be without pain.
To speak clearly.
To have a girlfriend.
To have a life.
To really live.

None of those requests are out of the ordinary. In fact most parents—-at least in our American culture–assume their children will live normal productive lives. And more times than not those children will have the opportunity to do so.

But not Cole.
Not Cole.

Cole had more physical disabilities than you could imagine. Add in his cognitive challenges and the struggle was immense. But in spite of his difficulties, the intellect for self-perception was always there. He knew he was different and not in a way the world perceived as good.

And as much as we loved him, we could not always protect him from that pain.
But we tried.
Oh God how we tried.
And prayed.
And begged.
And pleaded.
And made deals.

And there was nothing but silence.

Silence.
Screaming, ear busting, head splitting, banshee loud, deafening silence.

Silence.

For twenty years.
Silence.
Silence.
Silence.

And then he was gone.
Ripped from life before he ever had the chance to live like other kids.
Gone before… so many things he would never see, do, or experience.

I wish I had a dime for every time I cried out to God.
I wish I could have sucker-punched every well-meaning soul who tried to console with words, images, and thoughts of Cole in a better place.

Intellectually, I understood his pain and struggles were over.
Theologically, I believed he was with God and well.
Spiritually, I was angry and hurt.
Emotionally, I cried for what was lost and what would never be.

I live with a lot of regrets and what ifs.
We lost an awful lot that terrible day.
The empty seats at the table are ever before us.
And if the silence was deafening before…

As clichéd as it might be, time really does help.
On most days, even though I miss him with a deep unfulfilled longing, I can smile, laugh and talk about my son who is in a different place.
But some days the pain is just as raw as it was the day he was taken.
And silence is an all too familiar experience.

On those days I sometimes use this picture to remind me of Cole’s new reality and the truth of answered prayers… even when they are not answered in my arbitrary time frame.

HopeRealized
(With thanks to the Huffington Post for an inspiring picture and story)

Even though the silence mostly still remains, I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for the good memories and the precious time we had. Cole made me a better person. I miss him so, but I am glad he is free and unfettered…

cole

To those who hurt with loss, you are not alone…

Blessings to you,

Les, Jr.

Email address

Answered or Unanswered Prayers

My wrestling with God is no secret. I have been raw, honest, and real about my struggles, difficulties, and frustration with Him.

There are times when I have been highly confident and secure in my relationship with God.

But these days, I am all over the proverbial map.

I seem stuck in a place I can’t escape from–and God? I believe He is my Father. I believe His Son died for me. I believe the Holy Spirit works in believer’s lives.

I believe all that.
I do.
I am really not trying to convince myself or you of those beliefs.

I just can’t quite let go of my struggle to understand God more.
I just can’t.

I am not a deist. I don’t believe God created the universe, wound it up, and then took a step back to watch what happens.

At the same time, I have a strong need to understand how or why God answers some prayers and others He doesn’t.

But before you tell me God always answers prayers with a yes, not, or wait… I understand what you are saying. On the other hand, put yourself in my place for just a second–I wouldn’t ever want you to really be where I have been. Imagine praying and asking God to keep your family safe from harm–to protect them from people who would want to do them grave physical harm… Can you imagine that? Probably you have done the very thing yourself.

Now imagine something far worse than your worse nightmare taking place. (When we were in the criminal justice system waiting for justice, I always imagined a confrontation would take place one day before a court trial occurred. In my mind it was all verbal–some yelling and jousting…) Of course, you know what ultimately happened. I wish I could be completely honest about where all the ripples have taken us. I wish I could tell you what our very real struggles still are. I suspect you would be in shock all over again.

So it happened. It was bad. It’s still a waking walking nightmare.

How do you view God? Can you imagine a God who would say no to keeping your family safe? Or is it easier to believe somehow, someway that that particular prayer went unanswered?

Thus my need to understand God’s nature more better as we like to say down here.
More better.

In graduate school, I did a paper on the nature of Hell. One of the things I discovered was this: the doctrine of hell is based more on the literary piece known as Dante’s Inferno than any clear Biblical texts.

I wrestled hard with hell. I looked at the major theories. I researched, wrote, and wrote some more. In the end, I felt pretty comfortable with seeing hell differently than I had in the past. In the conclusion of the paper, I hedged my bets though and said something like this: Whatever form hell takes, I don’t want to be there.

I have no intention of ever finding out firsthand about eternity in hell.

Hell on earth? That’s another story.
Been there.
Done that.
Tired of wearing the T-Shirt.

Ultimately, whether I understand the shape, form, and fashion of hell correctly or not (or even heaven as well) isn’t all that important.

But understanding God? Understanding how He works? Those are questions worthy of my struggle.

I know heaven is in my future. I just want a piece of it here.

By the way, if you would like a copy of my paper on The Nature of Hell, send me a quick message through the contact page and it is yours free of charge–to read, line your bird cage, or to clean up with after your new puppy!

Blessings,

Les Ferguson, Jr.