I’ve started to plug back in at church. We’re going to a Sunday school class to become members. We are trying to attend more faithfully. I’m going to a Mom and Tots group. We’re planning on going to a married couple’s bible study. It’s encouraging. It’s scary. It’s lovely to feel connected. It’s exhausting. Sundays can so easily turn into “me” days. Into family days. Into rest (sleep in, stay in pj’s, cuddle on the couch) days. But I want my kids to grow up in church. I want church to be normal and necessary and an integral part of their lives. So I have to make it part of mine.
I grew up in church. Up until I got pregnant with Rory I was quite active in church. And then my life was destroyed by the death of my daughter. Church became… uncomfortable. I didn’t want to talk to people. I didn’t want people to talk to me. What if they talked about Rory? Or worse… what if they never did? What was the point? I couldn’t worship. I couldn’t pray. The last thing on my mind was enriching my faith with a message from the Bible. I was just trying to remain a Christian. Hanging on for dear life. Wondering how I was supposed to maintain a relationship with a God who had, it felt, completely and utterly failed me.
In a few weeks I’ll be visiting my parent’s church. That church (along with many others) had been praying for me through-out my pregnancy with Eli. Dad asked if I’d be willing to share a little bit and say thank-you at a service. I was surprised. In my head, people who went up to the front at church had victorious stories with happy endings. “I struggled with this – and conquered that!” “I lost this – and gained that!”
It was a bit startling to discover perhaps my story is perceived as victorious with a happy ending. I tried to look at my life through other people’s lenses and I’m a little surprised at what I see. A beautiful, happy, hard-won marriage. Two adorable, sweet, healthy boys. A successful farm. A supportive, close-by family. Wonderful, encouraging friends.
I mean yes, I’m aware of the blessings I have. Maybe I’m just not aware of how far I’ve come. We did come so close to losing everything. After Rory died, I remember sitting at the kitchen table with some close friends after a fight with Sheldon and saying, “My baby is dead… and now I’m going to get a divorce, too.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. My life is victorious. Sheldon and I stayed together after the death of Rory. Not only did we stay together, we grew together as we grieved together.
Kadon is a victory.
Eli is a victory.
The fact that mine and Sheldon’s rocky, confusing, compartmentalized, tenacious relationship with God is still alive (and maybe one day will even be alive and truly well) is a victory.
And maybe a victorious story without all the loose ends tied up is encouraging to people. Maybe if people knew how I still struggled… maybe they wouldn’t feel so alone. I still struggle to pray with the same ardour and faith that I did before. My worship has changed from personal adoration, to a more fundamental, You are God so You deserve my praise kind of obedient worship. My definition of trusting God changed to encompass simply trusting God will make all things beautiful in eternity.
Rebuilding our faith is a journey, but it is a victorious journey because we are still on it. We didn’t walk away. We are still searching, still wrestling, still trying. And that doesn’t set us apart from other Christians; I think that makes us more alike than we even know. Everyone searches. Everyone wrestles. No one has got it all figured out.
We are all heart-broken in some way. We have all suffered loss. But we’re still here. Still believing in the love of Jesus Christ. And that’s what makes us victorious. And that’s what ultimately will give us all a happy ending.