Monday, August 21, 2006
My Ideas of God
Today I finished reading the book "Why Bad Things Happen To Good People" by Harold S. Kushner, a rabbi and author.
An easy read -- in that his writing is outstanding -- I find myself wanting to read the book a second time to try and grasp the meaning of everything he said in the book.
Being raised Lutheran as I was, I believed for much of my life that God was omnipotent, omnipresent, and perfect.
I was also raised to believe that while God doesn't make bad things happen to good people, he "allows" it to happen.
Well, 3 miscarriages and the loss of our Jacob at 5 months to Trisomy 18 made me reconsider this idea of God as being perfect. After all, it's one thing to "allow" something bad to happen to us once, or even twice -- but the loss of 4 babies -- now that's just bad God Management, in my view. I mean, it's one thing to not pay particular attention to our first or second pregnancy -- but you'd think that a God who was really all that concerned with me would spare me the loss of a third and fourth child, dontcha think?
I sure as heck do.
What amazes me yet is that the book I read helped me come closer to God because it explained to me the fact that we do live in a world of randomness, and one where God can't play favorites with "good people" (let's just assume I'm one of them). It went further to say that God can't intercede in what happens to us. He, like me, is furious and mournful over our losses, but the "why" remains elusive forever.
The amazing ending of the book really talks more about how we respond to tragedy. That it isn't our fault, God isn't testing us or punishing us -- it really is about making sense of what really is a random event that just happened to hit us by allowing God to comfort us in our loss and misery.
I still have a lot more from the book to digest and consider. I just think I'm in the midst of a shift in my thinking about God entirely. Thanking Him for my existence and for the good that comes from this life, that is what I'm taking from it so far.
I'm not just saying "well, I'll just see the good in Jacob's life, no matter how short," because I'm not even close to being able to say that without sounding and feeling like I'd be in denial of my pain and anger over his loss.
But I do know that there is a great deal to be learned from this experience -- now that it's happened. And maybe a shift in my perception of what life really means is just part of it, including the God Part.
You see, for many years of my adult life, I wandered far from God. Months passed without a prayer, years passed without me going to church. I do feel that my relationship with God hit an all-time low point after my second miscarriage, because I was SURE that God didn't care about me all that much if he let me go through this again.
But for my third loss, I felt that something had to be wrong for us to go through this yet again. So I started going to church and tried to make peace with God. I tried to focus on the goodness of my marriage and my life on this earth, and how it would be childless, but still meaningful.
Then came Jacob, and the renewed promise of parenthood. No one could have prepared me for the past 2 months of my life, as we faced his loss and ultimately had to bear it.
But again, instead of turning away from God, I turned toward Him for comfort, guidance and solace. And the odd thing is, there has been an amazing amount of peace in all this messiness of birth, death, and grief.
No one has to tell me that it isn't my fault. I know that. No one has to tell me that it serves some purpose. I doubt that. Sometimes things just happen.
But like Kushner's closing statements about reaching out, not feeling alone in our grief, and letting God and our community comfort us -- it's the beginning of healing so that we can honor our lost loved ones by the way we live our lives into the future, and to be a testament to others.
That's about all I can ask for.
Maybe someday, that's where we'll be.