The other day I read through some of the letters I’ve written to you. For a second I considered not writing about my dad so much. Perhaps I should write something happy, lighter. It would be awful if you read these one day and thought, “Geez, mommy is a downer.”
What would be more awful is if I didn’t write to you with honesty about the season I am in.
Since my current season is a mix of sadness, disappointment and general feelings of “blah”, my writing tends to reflect those emotions.
The good news is writing helps me work through my grief.
The bad news is neither one of you have a say in what I write!
So here goes…
I was fortunate to grow up in a loving, stable home. My memories include raising bunnies, riding bikes on our dead end street and playing on the tire swing, just to name a few.
Hard things like neglect, abuse, or divorce were not a part of my childhood. We didn’t always have abundance, but I always felt loved and I always felt safe.
I grew up learning about God, feeling his presence and knowing He was always there for me. My parents and church leaders told me God was good and I believed them. My life experiences never gave me any reason to doubt God’s goodness or love.
All my grandparents passed away years before either of you were born. While their deaths saddened me for a time, I did not struggle with grief.
My grandparents were old.
Old people die.
But 64 isn’t very old. 64 is barely retirement. 64 is practically the new 40.
My daddy died at 64.
Up until my father’s death, I held tight to my belief’s. God loved me. God was good and had good things for me.
After he died, I began to question those beliefs. Is God really good? Does he really answer prayers?
Since honesty is the best policy, I have to tell you bitterness tries to creep into my soul on a weekly basis. There are ignorant, abusive fathers still living right now and my dad is gone. There are fathers who have nothing to do with their children, and yet my dad had to go? It hardly seems fair.
At church we sing It is Well. The words come out of my mouth, and tears run down my face, but my heart is not in agreement.
It is Not well with my soul.
My soul feels disillusioned. I wonder when grief will stop squeezing my heart so tightly. I worry about my mother and the loneliness she faces. I cringe when I see other children with their grandpa and I’m forced to push back jealousy and anger.
I struggled to share these thoughts with anyone. I felt ashamed for doubting God. I thought if I questioned God and his goodness, then maybe I didn’t love him as much as I thought I did. If I was angry at God, perhaps my relationship with him wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped.
I recently reached out to a friend. Someone who also lost a parent at a young age.
She gave me permission to ask why. To wrestle. To struggle. And yes, even question God’s goodness.
She reminded me of people in the Bible who questioned God.
In Psalm 10, David writes, “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
Even Jesus himself asked, “…God why have you forsaken me?” when he was on the cross.
The great thing about these verses is they tell me I’m not the only one to ask God why.
The not so great thing about these verses is they don’t show God giving an answer.
“Well, Jesus, I’m so glad you asked. Here are the reasons you don’t feel me near….”
“David, calm down. I’m not hiding from you. In fact, I plan on rescuing you in seven days.”
The thing about God is, well…He is.
And we aren’t.
There are times my decisions as a parent don’t make sense to your limited toddler knowledge. In time you will grow to understand why we can’t eat ice cream for every meal, play with razors or run in the street.
Maybe in time my limited knowledge will understand why God allows certain things.
Or maybe I won’t.
If you haven’t experienced disappointment yet, you will. If your hearts have been sheltered from pain and grief up until now, be glad. Your father and I are doing our best to provide a loving home for you both.
But brace yourself. It will come. And you will ask why.
I want you to know it’s ok.
I’m giving you permission to ask God the tough questions.
To yell at him when you’re disappointed.
To beg him for just a glimpse of understanding so your heart won’t hurt so much.
To wrestle with your belief and not feel guilty or ashamed.
You may never get all the answers you seek. I haven’t yet. But sometimes just asking the questions out loud makes me feel better.
Do I know why my dad died at 64? Nope.
Will I ever understand why he left us with so many memories still to be made? Probably not.
Is it truly well with my soul? Not yet.
Is God still good? You betcha.