At this point, three years ago, in a similar situation, I was in a better place. I wrote words that I think I need to read again in about another week or so. If you're not angry still today, I'd recommend clicking on that link instead of reading this post.
Because after 48 hours of crying and inwardly seething, I woke up this morning still angry. Because this time, this death isn't necessarily closer to my heart (because it's equally close to my heart), but it is closer to my day to day life. My friend won't stop being my friend and part of my life because she lost her son.
But after venting with my mother this morning on the phone, she gently called a spade a spade. "Jennifer, is 48 hours enough pain? Do you need another 24? Aren't you glad God gives us that choice? that He doesn't demand us go to Him? Be obedient. Go sit down with God and let the healing begin." She said this in the most gently, most loving way possible. She wasn't giving advice or answers, she was meeting me right in the hard moment where I was treading water. She threw me a life preserver.
So, I went and sat down with God. I journal often. That's how God and I talk. I actually keep a journal written directly to my children, and I don't share excerpts from it often, but if my thought process can help anyone else drowning right now, then Jesus take the glory....
I'm so angry. I'm so angry for my friend. (I then proceed to list a long list of offenses on her behalf that she probably doesn't need to read right now.)
I'm also selfishly, wrongly angry for myself. (I then list a long list of personal things that God and I need to hash out. Yes, I admit to the selfishness of this.)
I'm angry at God--for all of this. I'm angry and silently, inwardly seething between clenched teeth, shaking metaphorical fists at God, borderline blasphemous in my thoughts and emotions, knowing the whole time that He sees and knows my heart, so I might as well be saying it all out loud. So here I am writing, because that's how I say all the things I think. I'm angry because I know all (ok, lots of) the truths of the Bible. I know God has His reasons. I know God is good. I know God was with my friend's son and is with him now and will continue to be with his family.
And therein is where the rubber meats the road and the inner war rages because I know God wants me to be right here, obediently coming to Him with my heart and my thoughts and all my feelings, but I. Don't. Want. To.
I want to sit in a corner and refuse to let Him touch me. I'm the strong-willed child or rebellious teen who thinks depriving God of my obedience will somehow hurt Him like He's hurt me. But there's no truth in that statement.
My anger, my desire to make God hurt, the idea that I can even hurt God--those are all wrong, sinful (borderline ridiculous) thoughts. It's ok to feel them, to have them, but eventually you have to call them what they are or you risk living in the middle of a lie to yourself. And as with all sin, I'm only choosing to hurt myself.
The idea that God allowed my friend's son to die to hurt me or even her, specifically, on purpose, is also absurd. I hope. To be brutally honest, I do believe that God does not intend to cause us pain, but I am also aware that because of a sinful and broken world full of pain, when God makes decisions for our lives, sometimes the only natural outcome will be pain.
Am I saying God killed her son? No. Not necessarily, but I do believe it didn't just happen without His knowledge. So that leaves me in a very uncomfortable gray space, and the answer in gray space always comes down to two paths--faith in God or disbelief in God.
God is not crystal clear to us. I don't think I ever want Him to be because then wouldn't He cease to be God? If I understood everything the way He does, wouldn't I be His equal, and therefore also bear the responsibility of the world and all its issues on my shoulders also? I definitely don't want that.
So if I'm okay with God being bigger and greater and mightier and more mysterious than me (which is good, because He is) then by default, I have to come to terms with not understanding how and why He chooses to work inside my life and the lives of those around me.
I have to choose faith or disbelief.
And when I choose faith, this rebellious child must also choose obedience. They kinda walk hand in hand. I must take the hand of my heavenly Father offering me His embrace and Presence and Comfort. I have to stop licking my own wounds and allow Jesus to be the Surgeon, the Painkiller, and the Bandage to my soul--all in one.
And I'm tired of crying and weeping. And part of me still doesn't want to collapse in His arms, giving Him the satisfaction of loving me, but then the truth is He's going to love me anyways, and really, loving Him is what fuels my life at this point, so without throwing an entire lifetime of experiences and relationship proofs out the window by choosing disbelief, I find I have to choose Jesus. Despite my rebellious anger, He is what my heart longs for. He is peace; therefore, He is where I will find my peace.
"Lord, forgive me for raging against You, for silently cursing how You choose to act in my life and the lives of others. Forgive me, Father, for wanting to hurt You, when all you desire is for me to draw near to You so You can minister to me. Father, forgive me for my anger, but thank you You allow me the choice to feel it and express it. Thank you that You are a Safe Harbor of understanding and grace and comfort.
Lord, may Your Presence be tangible to my friend's family right now. And if they want to punch You too, I'm grateful You wrestle with us Lord. I'm also grateful You always win, but the freedom to process through to that conclusion as You wrestle with us is a gift. I love that you're never a spectator in our lives. I love you, Lord. Love on my friends for me."
And there it is. In writing, a journey from anger to acceptance. I'm no fool. Small parts of me, I think, will still feel angry in moments. This is a heart-work in process, an on-going process. I have no idea where my friend is on this journey right now, and I do not expect everyone who reads this to process in the same way or in the same amount of time. This is only the beginning. Everything changes as each day passes. And Lord knows I'm going to stand by her side and cry and rage and sit silently for as many days, weeks, months, years as it takes.
But her journey is not mine, and I would be foolish to overlap our two in any way. Hers is much more difficult.
In this moment, right now, I feel calm and tired and at peace for the first time in 48 hours. Her son is still gone. There are still tears to be shed. Life will be altered and forever changed in a new trajectory now, but maybe now, I can focus on truly loving her with God's love and stop imposing my self-righteous love on her. "Lord help, me."