I've noticed that a lot of my posts have to do with inanimate objects that evoke intense emotions and therefore, prolific blogging (I had to whip out my thesaurus for that sentence...don't expect as much from the rest of this post...it's too much effort). Anyway...I was pondering what I could post about that doesn't involve external props and I think I came up with a good one.
To those who are overly religious, please do not be offended by what follows. This is my own inner struggle and therefore is not intended as a comment on anyone's closely held belief system.
Where is God? Where was he when we needed him the most? Why didn't he answer our prayers? How could he let this happen to sweet innocent little Alex? How could he do this to Steve and Sam and I?
I have heard so many well-intended things over the last three and a half weeks that have honestly left me completely perplexed. One person said, "Well I guess it just wasn't meant to be." Now, after I got over my initial I-could-vomit-on-her-shoes-I'm-that-amazed-she-said-that reaction, I began to analyze the statement. I'm assuming that the "it" she was talking about was my son Alex. Yes, he has a NAME. Yes, he was a PERSON. I'm forever hearing right-to-lifers tell me that a baby in utero is a person.
Now either the person who made this statement isn't a right-to-life advocate, or she's caught in one of those political debates in which she is way over her head. A baby is a baby, unless he is born dead...then IT wasn't meant to be? Or is the "it" she refers to the joy of our family having two living children? It wasn't meant to be. Maybe she simply means happiness. I'm not really sure. But let's move on to the second half of the statement that perplexes me even more.
It wasn't meant to be. Apparently, this means there is some grand plan out there in which all of our lives are predetermined and we're at the whim of some all-powerful God.
If that is the case, I'd love to have the nerve to ask this person how God determines what is and isn't meant to be. Does he roll dice? Draw straws? Flip a coin? Because near as I can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to why people lose babies. One in 71 births results in stillbirth...with no regard to race, religion, or lifestyle. So this master plan that determines what is and isn't meant to be...well...quite frankly...it sucks. Someone needs to tell God that people who follow the rules are supposed to have healthy and happy babies. And the rules of fair play tell me that NOBODY should have to lose a child...especially like this.
Not meant to be? Why not? Because if you ask me, it is patently unfair and cruel to let a woman get pregnant and carry her child (yes, I said child once again) for months, only to snatch him away instead of sending him home with his mother. What kind of plan is that?!?!
We're not even going to touch on the comment from someone that said that the reason this happened to us is because of sin. oh boy...that one just floored me. Honestly...it had me wondering if I was being punished for something I had done. Had I done something to deserve this? But then I realized, Alex had a spirit and a soul, and there is no God so hateful that he would let one person die in order to teach another a lesson. At least, no God that I believe in.
Another well-intended sentiment I've been given is that God needed another angel. One of my blog friends (I'm sorry I don't have the link handy), summed up perfectly my feelings on this subject. God is, I'm sure, far beyond needing any angels to the point that he would selfishly pluck this child or that child from amongst our midst to satisfy his own needs. Well said.
But this leads me to my own internal analysis. What exactly DO I believe? I have, for a long time, said that I'm more of a free will gal. I think God lets us run around and make mistakes, like any parent would. I think he offers support and guidance when and where he can...where the person is open and willing to receive it...like any parent would. I think God is happy with us and grieves with us when we are happy or we grieve, like any parent does. I think God is an amazing force of love.
But I don't think God is some grand puppet-master pulling all our strings, making us dance for his own pleasure and enjoyment. And I certainly don't think God makes bad things happen so that he can sit back and watch us suffer. For the life of me, I can't imagine why someone would want to believe that kind of a God exists.
But I'm still stuck with my questions. Where is God? Where was he when we needed him the most? Why didn't he answer our prayers? How could he let this happen to sweet innocent little Alex? How could he do this to Steve and Sam and I?
He didn't do anything. Am I willing to admit that he couldn't do anything? That it was beyond his power to stop it from happening? Or do I choose to believe that he could have stopped it from happening and chose not to? Either prospect is scary for me. If I fully believe in the free will model, I have to decide whether I want to believe (1) God has power and doesn't use it; or (2) God doesn't have power.
If God doesn't have power, then what do I do with prayer? Is it a waste of time? Or maybe it's just a ritual that we have taught ourselves...to make us feel better about being completely out of control of certain situations. Are situations where prayers are answered really just happy coincidences?
We're taught from the time we're little, to "thank God for our blessings." What then, are we supposed to do with our disappointments (or whatever the term is for the exact opposite of blessings...disappointment doesn't seem to quite adequately cover the loss of a child).
Maybe there is no God. Maybe he is someone we have conjured up in order to comfort ourselves through all the hardships that we face during our lives. Maybe he is the manifestation of our collective need to find meaning in everything. Maybe he is a myth created to explain how things came to be...when there really was no way to know how things came to be.
I don't find this comforting at all, because I like to believe that I will again someday see the people I've lost during my life. But is it my need to be comforted that is driving my faith? Or is my faith the source of my comfort?
As you can see, I'm no theological scholar. I even have a hard time spelling "theological." But I think about these things during those sad times when I need to make sense of things. I think about whether I'm truly comforted by God, or whether I've created him in my mind as a means to comfort myself.
I ask myself those questions over and over again and wonder if I will ever know the answers. Perhaps there are no answers. For now, I'll still send up prayers. Because regardless of whether God exists or not, I need to believe in something to get through this. I need to feel like I am loved and I am not alone. And I think God can take it if I'm angry at him for now.