Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I Will Not Waste Years

On a completely different subject, one thing I committed myself to today was to not forget this month's support group meeting through the Maeghan and Heidi Heart Foundation. I wasn't completely sure I had the date right. When I checked out the page to see, I saw that they'd be using The One Year Book of Hope as a reference during the meeting. This is one of the books included in The Hope Bag that they sent. I hadn't so much as opened it yet, so I thought I'd better read a bit to at least get a feel for the book, and the philosophy behind it.

From the Introduction I learned that the author had one child, believed to be healthy until after her birth, born with a syndrome that is fatal, 100%. No cure no treatment. They normally live no longer than 6 months. After that experience, they were surprised by a post-vasectomy pregnancy, during which they discovered that this child would also have the same syndrome. The first child was a girl, named Hope. The second was a boy named Gabriel.

OK, so it's different than my situation, but there were enough similarities that my interest was piqued. Maybe this book wouldn't be a crock of misinformed silly advice after all. I mean, I could already, in just 3 pages, identify with the writer...

Yes well, a few more pages proved to me that it was a religious tome laden with scripture and spiritual advice. The sort of writing that tells you that everything is ok, and you're going to be just fine because, even if you don't understand God's plan, His will is perfect, if only you'll have faith and believe in Him.

I emailed Mika and told her that I couldn't make it. I'm afraid they'd start discussing things and praising the Lord and I'd get pissed off (anger comes more and more easily lately) and say something I'd regret. Better to just stay home I think. It isn't that I disagree with their way of grieving or coping. I don't have a problem with the fact that their faith in God gets them through. If that's what works for them, then more power to them. It's just that I don't understand it, cannot apply it to myself or my own experience. In the first few pages it says:
"One of the hardest parts of trusting God with my own experience has been reckoning with the fact that God had the power to make my children healthy, and yet he chose not to. How can I love him and believe he sorrows with me if he had the power to change it, but chose not to?"
p14 The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie
Had she answered that question, I doubt I'd have ever put the book down. Instead she cites another author, Rabbi Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Apparently his opinion on it (through her interpretation - I have not read Kushner's book) was that
"[Kushner says]...God is not all-powerful. He suggests that God hates suffering but is limited in his power to eliminate it."
p14 The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie
Which she obviously disagrees with, refers us to Hebrews 5:7-8.
(Hbr 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
Hbr 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered)
All in all, her answer is that God's perfect plan includes suffering and death. That through these things, we would learn to obey Him.

Well, what a cop-out. What a total non-answer. She wrote a 424 page book, and by page 14 I can tell that, other than the snippets of her own experience that are shared throughout the book, this book offers me nothing. Her standpoint is obviously one of "Trust God implicitly. Do not question His will. Follow like a good little sheep and you'll be fine."

It seems to me that religious folks find a way to twist the scriptures to fit whatever the situation may be, mold them to explain (away) any and all pain, fear, or doubt that we experience in life.

Religion, to me, was invented so that man had, alternately, someone for which to blame for evil, and someone to credit for the good, someone to shake their fist at when wronged, someone to offer thanks to in times of plenty.

Personally, I find it more comforting to think that we live in some sort of uncontrolled chaos. Good and bad happen, and to whom is most likely a matter of chance. That seems more sensible than to accept the idea that if I pray hard enough I will have bestowed upon me some mystical cap of knowledge.

Most religions teach that God is a good and loving God, and that if you live your life as a good person, follow the Ten Commandments, believe in Him and His power and His will, then He will protect you from Evil. Only, Evil continues to happen, even to the most righteous of people.

And when Evil happens to you, and that magical answer doesn't come, when the light of Truth doesn't illuminate your plaintive little face, religion wants you to blame yourself, to believe that you are not worthy.

Well fuck that, no Mother deserves to lose two children, and when she does, despite how devout she was, no matter how good she was, regardless of how submissive she has always been to His will, then she damn well does deserve the answer to the question, "Why did you take, not one but two, of my children!?" and the reason we don't get that nugget of understanding is this:


And I will not waste years trying to beg some non-existent answer out of an uncaring ether. I will (eventually) come to terms with the fact that it doesn't matter how badly I need those answers, I will not get them.

Know how I know that? Because how many hundreds of people prayed for Nova? C'mon, all of you raise your hands... you there, in the back... you prayed too, didn't you? All of you, for my little Nova. And how many of you can tell me why he had to die?

I used to believe prayer worked, when I was little. Then I had Alexis, and so many people prayed for her. I know of three churches who had her in their prayer list, and many more who weren't in any of those churches. And it all accomplished nothing, and I realized that nothing I'd ever prayed about had come to pass.

While Nova was alive I relapsed. I prayed, oh how I prayed, day and night - for his survival, for my own strength, for guidance for the doctors and nurses who cared for him - and for answers. And it all accomplished nothing.

Now I remember why I made this post. I won't forget again.


  1. *raising hand from the back* Yes, E, I prayed. Religion has a tendency to do that, doesn't it? Rear it's head in the face of grave circumstances. Maybe it's more of a gesture of not knowing what else to do. Maybe it's because doing so makes us feel like we at least did _something_. I don't know.

    You're right- there are no answers, and there is no all-loving, shiny happy God figure to go to for them. There is darkness with light, and somewhere in the middle is this swirling chaos which we try to explain away the best way our little human minds can.

    Life has been more than unfair to you. If there were a way to take some of the pain from you, I would, I swear. But let's face it. The best I can do is sit here and read, and ache along with you and love you and hope that you know how very much so many of us really do care.

  2. Ang~
    When everyone prayed for Nova, and for us, it was a comfort to know so many people were willing to do so because I knew then that we were loved, that I had friends who cared so deeply. I don't suppose it was the prayer that meant so much, as it was the coming together of so many for me and mine. I will never forget it, I still am so grateful for it, and I sincerely hope that this post doesn't make anyone feel as though I'm disregarding or making light of what everyone did for us.

    "and love you and hope that you know how very much so many of us really do care."

    I am SO aware (see above lol) of how many people are still here, reading, loving, caring, being here for me... I love you all so much, I wish I could explain it fully.

    Just know that your presence (and all my other wonderful friends) makes all the difference in the world to me.

    ...especially if you still love me after of a few of my most recent rants!

  3. Friends will always love you, E. And no, I don't think anyone will feel belittled by anything you've said regarding prayer. Well, maybe some of those seriously stiff religious types would- bet even thoey will probably be inclined to just pray for you some more. And whether prayer is simply a petition to some higher power or a simply a raising of energy that is then directed toward a certain goal- it benefits you to have someone in the world thinking of you, right?

    Love you- and you know where the inbox is, should you want or need it.