Last week Paul and I had our first opportunity to volunteer at a center that offers assistance for families in need. There was someone who sticks out in my mind, a young woman in her early 20’s who was very pregnant. Apparently she usually comes in with another lady who was also pregnant. But this time she came in alone and said the friend she usually comes in with was in the hospital delivering a stillborn baby. It was heartbreaking and I didn’t even know the lady.
Later the volunteer coordinator said to us she would get through it and be fine since she has the Lord to lean on. I really hope so. Does anyone ever really get over the loss of a child? Today it’s been 4 years since my friend Lisa lost her daughter in a car accident. I still worry about my friend. It’s hard to watch her suffer and only have thoughts and prayers to offer.
I don’t know about you, but I am really horrible at having a strong faith in times of trouble. I am pretty good at doubting though. Do our prayers change the heart of God? Does he really care about the continuum of time? The truth is we are all going to die.
I’ve had to accept a lot of things. Sometimes I have fleeting moments of peace. I’ve come a long way from feeling I would never be able to climb out of the despair.
Maybe I’m forever stuck in the loop of viewing my heavenly father as my earthly father. I’m just being honest here. I felt anger towards God. I’ve had to parent my parents since I can remember. Why can’t I just walk away? Why do I feel responsible for them? I never had parents I could go to for support.
When I found out about my dad’s crime and a few months later my daughter attempted suicide, I turned to our pastor for support. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t forgive. I wasn’t good enough or have enough faith to be blessed with a healthy family. I took advice from a pastor who had some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t abused. His dad wasn’t a pedophile. He wasn’t dealing with decades of childhood trauma. He didn’t grow up in a household of worry and fear. His childhood gave him good memories, mine gave me PTSD. It was like trying to get marriage advice from a priest. He couldn’t relate.
But somehow I came through it. I made my peace with God. Our new pastor is great, although I know he can not relate. Not many can. Our church has a shortage of pastors. The other day my husband said if he was younger he would’ve liked to be a pastor. I think he would make a great pastor, I would not however make the best pastor’s wife. The sad thing is Paul said he didn’t feel like he would ever be good enough to be a pastor, he is too broken.
But somehow I think it’s better to help others when you have been through it yourself. Between Paul and I, we’ve both been through a lot of hard times and maybe we can use our experiences to help others. It took me two years to get to the spot where I thought maybe I could experience joy in my life again. It took a lot of work. I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if God cares. If you find you are having a hard time getting by with the little faith you have, you are not the only one.
I wish I had good advice to help other people in our lives who might be hurting. What did I want in my darkest days? What I wanted more than anything was to be left alone, but that also wasn’t healthy for me to isolate myself. It helped to have a couple people to talk to that didn’t treat me like something was wrong with me because they couldn’t understand. My best friend would check in on me every couple of days. Don’t just offer thoughts and prayers, look at me with pity, and go on your merry way. Ask what you can do to help. Say kind things like…I don’t know how you can stay sane. Talk about your problems with me. I felt bad when friends wanted to talk but said my problems are nothing compared to yours.
When I see others struggle with similar circumstances, I try to tell them they are not alone or that I felt the same way they did. I understand why people don’t cut their dysfunctional families out of their lives. It’s because they are a good person. They want to help. They have been conditioned from a young age to have to do things most people have no understanding about. The fear of a parent killing them self and you are the only person who might be able to stop it, fix it can not just walk away. Don’t tell someone who has lost a child to just get over it. There is no timeline for grief.
We can really hurt others with our words. But more importantly, we can offer great comfort and help. That is the true joy of suffering.