The coming to consciousness is not a discovery of some new thing; it is a long and painful return to that which has always been. ~ Helen M. Luke
How could I have any faith at all after losing my mother, losing my baby, being abused, being raped, having some of the soldiers I was writing in Vietnam die at such young ages?? I believed in God, and then I didn’t.
I was feeling numb and disoriented.
I felt anxious and had trouble sleeping. Sudden outbursts of tears were common.
One Sunday I was at church and in my silent prayer I was asking God tough questions.
I laid my head down on top of the pew and just kept on asking questions in anticipation of an answer.
The pastor came and sat next to me and I shared my concerns of losing my faith in God.
“How can I have faith after the death of my mother?” I asked. “How can I have faith after being forced to have an abortion?”
“I’ll try to answer you as best I can. We all experience pain in this life, and the only thing worse than the pain of losing a loved one is the pain of never loving or being loved in the first place. In a way, the pain of grief is a gift to us because it is evidence of the presence of love,” he said.
“I blame God. Where is God when I am being abused, having my hair pulled out from the back of my neck?” I said.
“If you want to blame God, go ahead. God can absorb our feelings and words of blame without personal harm or injury. We cannot hurt God,” said the pastor.
“”I feel, in a way, that I am searching for something that isn’t here,” I said. “I am looking for that laughter and that incredible time that I had with my mother. I am by myself now. Where was God when I was being raped?”
The pastor looked at me in surprise. “I will pray for you,” he said.
“Please leave,” I said. “I can’t do this anymore.”
“God has a plan,” he told me as he walked up to the front of the church and lit a candle at the alter.
I thought, how can you possibly understand the pain I have? I think that was a turning point in the whole religion thing for me. As I walked out of the church I actually wished I would get a sign so that I could believe in God again. I didn’t get a sign.
I just remember thinking, ‘That’s it. I’m done with God.’
I really came to the realization that, yeah, I’m alone in this and I need to save myself.
I have never been a big fan of the “paste a smile on and pretend it’s okay” club. I was feeling angry. The crushing unfairness of it all began to sink in.
I used to think that people of true faith accepted everything quietly and calmly. This day I was not so sure.
I wrestled with my decision, however, I left the church that day and did not return for many years. I let go. I held on to no beliefs. I lost my faith. Or perhaps, a better way to say it is that I choose to reject that God was in my life any longer. I still had a very long and hard journey ahead of me. Grief was exhausting, messy, and misunderstood.
Anger and confusion were normal parts of my daily life. I was stuck in a dark place.
Had I been given a choice, I would not have chosen this path, as it has been hard and painful. That being said, I took all I could from it and it did change me for the better.
My faith was challenged many times over the years. I was mad at God!
I was searching frantically for anyone, anything that would help me get through this.
I was searching for a hero to save me. I realized I would have to go it alone. As a coping mechanism, I began to write a journal. I have been writing in some form ever since.
Most often, tragedy shakes your faith and doesn’t destroy it. Faith is generally challenged in some way. It was many years for me to come back full circle to a place of spiritual belief and faith.
My experience was that religious leaders are really bad at comforting people in grief.
Grief is so overpowering – it consumes you.
First the numbness and autopilot mode then the heaviness of despair, then the oceans of tears, then the questions of the pointless, futility of life. Then anger, then deep despair, then numbness and repeat. This repeated for many years. My life has changed drastically. since that day.
I see my life in two parts; my old life and my new life; one I didn’t want or choose and one that I’m embracing.
I live my life as I want, enjoying the little things.
This year just during the Spring time months, I noticed a robin that would watch me when I was gardening.
The robin visited the garden most days and would look towards the house. There are some people who think that symbolises that a loved one who has passed is okay.
That brought me some comfort. I like seeing robins in the garden, even when they are being fiercely territorial.
I think most people find it hard to talk about death either due to a trauma or the death of a loved one.
Though it’s been 55 years since my mom left I still weep during the holidays as if she just died.
She was my hero.
Death has shaped my entire life. Loss of loved ones. Four near death experiences myself.
Of course there is the awful reality of loss in all our lives. Grief is a personal and intense journey that all of us will experience at some point in life.
Through the entire time I rejected faith, I still said my prayers every night, starting with ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…….”
I felt better when I prayed.
I had a beautiful and profound experience when I returned to the same church years later, laid my head back down on the pew in the same place I had been before, and explained to God my gifts and how I was choosing to live my life and what I believed.
I made spiritual progress by turning around and retracing some steps. Sometimes, this is exactly what progress looks like: Turning around and heading back the other way.
Think about it, we can hardly call going further down the wrong road progress.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” – Anne Lamott
Is free will real or just an illusion?