Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Problem with Pain
Grief is unpredictable. Raw. Quiet. Patient. I want to write some tidy text about what I have learned, what God has shown me, why Bryan's death has meaning and how I am no longer struggling to figure it all out as we approach the One Year Anniversary of his death. But I can't.
Today is December 1st. Opening day for Bryan's favorite season--Christmas.
This time last year, Bryan was wasting away alone in his apartment. He would not let us, my parents, my kids, me into his dungeon of despair. There were no trips to his elaborately decorated apartment, no coco and carols, no Christmas movies or gingerbread houses built together. Bryan died. I can't change the details of the final chapter of his story. I can't add meaning. I have no answers. I can't explain any of it. I can't fix it or make it all better. I still have no fathomable idea why Bryan had to die. I see no good in any of it. None.
I suspect that people all over the world have been and are still working on that problem of pain. For much longer than 351 days. Trying to make sense of their senseless circumstances. Choosing joy even in the midst of calamity and crisis. I am not alone in my grief and sorrow.
I read this quote again today: "God marks across some of our days: "Will Explain Later". And then "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." This year God has been teaching me to dance.
Sometimes when I catch myself forgetting that Bryan is gone and I realize that I haven't thought about him all day--I feel like that's a betrayal. Somehow by "moving on" with my life, I am leaving him in my past where he resides only in my distant memory. I don't want to keep my brother in my heart, tucked away somewhere I only venture once a year. I want to travel to that place where my grief and my faith meet. And there is Peace.
Take me there Lord. As I journey in this place of grief, bring me into Your Peace, Lord.
My husband says I am like a pitbull, I bite down and don't let go. I am tenacious, resolute, unyielding when I want something. I want to know why my brother died. Yet in my stubborn insistence, I miss out on peace and grace. It is only when I simply stop struggling (sometimes by conscience choice, mostly out of sheer exhaustion) and contending that Peace takes the place of strife in my heart. I can't explain that either.
I never cross-examine God and ask Him why He blessed me with a man who is devoted to our family. I don't shake my fist at the Lord and demand an explanation for our five healthy children. You will never hear me insisting He demonstrate His motive when I sleep in my warm bed in my big house. I have never asked Jesus to account for His provision of freedom, friendship, and full belly. Why is it that I think an answer is owed to me when He allows stuff to happen that I don't understand?
I don't deserve His daily Grace, I never earned His favor, yet my God lavishly provides blessings upon blessings to me daily. I will never understand that either.
You would think that God would punish me for my little faith. Or perhaps my disbelief would bring separation and spurning. But my God isn't like that. He gently whispers in the pain, in the quiet, in the tears, in the rain, "I'm with you." The God who gives and takes away--He is close to me.
It's not my job to understand the "why" of the last 351 days. Somedays, I have been biting the wrong leg. My Lord has only asked me to trust Him, His goodness, His unfailing love for me. And for Bryan. I can't lean on my own understanding in all of this. I will never be able to understand all this yuck! Death stinks. There are no circumstances or final chapters that can change that sad fact.
I don't have any pat answers or deep philosophical conclusions to offer here. I only have His Hope today. As we begin our celebration of Jesus' birth, the Father's Most Precious Gift, I realize anew that my Savior is enough, more than enough for all that I truly need. May He be more than enough for you today too.
Psalm 34:18" The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Posted by Reilly Fitzpatrick at 10:38 AM