I’ve been thinking since my last post about ‘what if’ of all the different questions this leads to for me. One of my most interesting questions is what if the things I thought I knew aren’t quite right? I will need to back up and explain this some more…
In the past few years, I’ve begun to discover that there are ‘truths’ that I had taken to be accurate without realizing that they weren’t actually in line with Scripture. These were mostly subtle assumptions that were more general ideas and principals than any one source telling me ‘x y and z’. Most of these were shown to me through an intensive Bible Study called ARMS focused around issues of domestic abuse. Each week, the leader presented a concept directly tying a lie (these skewed assumptions) to the verses in the Bible that explain otherwise. And there were many, many scripture references. We went to the original language to study the translation and definitions. These very small shifts made all the difference, and slowly I began to see myself in a new light. I’m not prepared to recount these points here, but I wanted to make the argument that even in our Church, there are tidbits of untruths. Places where confusion or guilt creep in and carefully, gently, subtly tweak my sense of reality. And, growing up in the Church, these foundations began to be built upon and eventually undermined the Truth when I needed it the most.
If there are these assumptions that I somehow picked up along the way, and if I test them against the Scriptures and find that they are not quite right… how many other Truths have I missed? What other things have I learned ‘somewhere’ that are simply off? I’m reading a book about heaven right now. It’s aptly named, ‘Heaven’ by Randy Alcorn (who apparently is also from the North West woo hoo!). In his book, he points out many ideas that we as a Christian culture have assumed about Heaven but that don’t actually line up with Scriptures. Again, I am not prepared to relay these ideas here, it is just another example from another source where I see discernment teasing apart what was my belief system from the Truths outlined in Scriptures.
So, one thing I am prepared to delve into, is an idea of my own. Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I a Biblical Scholar and I have not had any formal Religious education. That out of the way, this is simply an idea I’ve been thinking of. Ok? Don’t beat me up if I get this wrong, I’m sure I will get at least some of it wrong. What if… what if, my life, our lives here on earth are so temporary, that some of our hopes and dreams simply cannot fit inside this lifetime? What if some of our dreams are meant for our eternal life in the new Heaven and the New Earth? If that is true… then maybe many of my ‘losses’ aren’t truly losses, but ‘waits.’ You remember the saying, ‘God answers every prayer with three basic responses: yes, no and wait.’? Well, maybe my unrealized dreams are not ‘no’s, maybe they’re hope and motivation for the future, for my future.
Of course, I see the world through my very own lens, through my experiences, just like everyone else does (which is by definition different than everyone else’s view). And losing my daughter has been a huge influence in how I see things, and how I understand things. When she had to leave so young, I was devastated. Everything I’d hoped for her, and for myself with her, had gone away when she did. While I am greatly comforted because of my beliefs and understanding where she is and that she is happy and content, I was still left standing here feeling so very empty. What about kindergarten? What about the cute Summertime clothes I’d just bought for her? What about braces? The dentist told me I needed to save for braces!! Put her back! I’m not done with her! She’s not done here! So many people haven’t met her yet!! What about all the friends she is supposed to make throughout her lifetime? They will miss out on knowing her and any blessings she was supposed to pass on to them, and they won’t even realize it! They will just go on with their lives unimproved by their knowing her that was supposed to happen. And what of our family? We are forever changed without her being with us. I always knew that Eleanor was going to be the best big sister someday, but now she won’t be able to. I knew she would go out and do great things, and honor God, I just knew it; but now no one here will ever get to see Him through her. Except through my memories of her, which isn’t the same thing.
When I got divorced, I was able to rationalize the situation: Maybe we weren’t a good fit. Maybe we were never meant to be together. Maybe now without an unhealthy marriage taking all my time and energy, my life will be happier and healthier. Maybe with this failed marriage gone and healing taking place, God will have the opportunity to grow in my life a new healthy relationship. Maybe there is hope. But, losing a child simply can’t be rationalized. It can’t be reconciled. It can’t be accepted. It can only be adjusted to. Not from where I stand anyway. Because, it’s over, right? She’s not coming back. She’s dead and buried. There is an end point and we’ve already passed it. I can’t go back, there is no make up exam for this. So, my sense of right and wrong and good and bad and basic security was ripped from around my shoulders and I stood bare, unprotected and vulnerable. If it was possible that a little child could die, my little child, then could anything else ever be stopped? Nothing I could do, no processing, no viewpoint could ease this unrest. It was wrong. It is wrong. No sugar coating it. It simply isn’t how it is supposed to be.
And then there are miracles. I needed one. I prayed for one. So did a lot of other people. But, none showed up. I fervently believed that my child would get up and walk out of that hospital hand in hand with me. She didn’t. How can I ‘right’ this?? How can I even live with it? It’s like a horrible thorn in my side, but I can’t get around it, ever. I can’t fix it. No one can. It is simply wrong.
My brain doesn’t like this. Not one little bit. Those of you who know me in real life know that ‘I pump sunshine.’ I have developed (or been given) the ability to simply accept the good and (more often) the bad and trust that there is a reason. A greater good. There is an explanation for how and why things went sideways and there is redemption of the situation coming. I may miss it. I may not recognize it or it may happen after I’ve left the scene and I won’t ‘know’ about it in this lifetime, but it is there by golly! It’s a peace I carry with me, that God is in control, that it all makes sense somehow. It’s the belief that I don’t have to understand it to believe it, that in the end it truly will be perfect in a way that wouldn’t have been achieved if I’d had things my way in the first place. But, the death of a child is simply too much for my little brain. Our lives are not made better by her not being here. They’re not. I’m determined not to let this take away the joy in our lives, but it did put a serious dent in it! There is no logical explanation of how her being gone is going to improve anything. It’s not. So, have a little faith, right? I mean, I just said that I don’t have to understand it in order to accept it as ‘for the best.’
Well, what if all the hopes and dreams I had for her here will be accomplished and satisfied in the life to come? We do have literally an eternity to work on things… I’m pretty sure that God knew of our lives on earth and He knew of our lives on The New Earth to come. I’m pretty sure that He wouldn’t set up the short one to be the best and the long one to be just so-so. Right?? So, while I’m not exactly clear what it all is going to look like and how it will all work, I do think it’s safe to say the best is yet to come. Even for Eleanor. Even for me.
So maybe they have Kindergarten in Heaven. Maybe there will be friends to know and to bless there too. Maybe, she will shine Him to everyone she meets up there. Maybe the fulfillment of all she is meant to be is realized every bit as wonderfully there, and in the future, as it would have been here? Maybe, I didn’t lose out on anything with her… maybe it is only on hold from my perspective here and now, but in Truth, my wildest dreams will pale in comparison. Maybe my faith could stand a little more growing. And when I get there, to Heaven I mean, I will say, (as I’ve often told people) “Ah ha!! Ooooooooh! I get it now!” for about the first ten thousand years or so. Because there is so much in Him, and my small human mind is so limited, that I can only take in little bits and pieces here and now.
What if it really is alright in the end?