I had a wonderful weekend with two of my best friends being silly and pretending we were still in college somehow. But when I got home I remembered that my friend Meggie was killed two years ago. It got me thinking about how I think and feel about it two years later.
A lot has happened in the last two years in my life, I got married, moved, started grad school and seminary. I realized those experiences and maybe seminary most of all have changed the way I see her death.
I think there’s a lot of people that believe that being a Christian means accepting some of the hardest things in life with minimal resistance and an attitude of submission. So often I hear “it was God’s will,” “it was her/his time to go” and other explanations or understandings of tragic events like this. Maybe this offers comfort for some and I’m not saying that this is wrong. It’s most likely that I’m still immature in my faith and someday I’ll understand all this differently. But I’m working through it and this is where I’m at:
Even if it’s God’s will or her time that still doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better. Meggie was an incredible person, everyone who knew her would agree. She had a great future ahead of her, she would have touched so many more lives. I still think that she does. It doesn’t make sense to me and what I hear from churches and Christians sometimes is that we shouldn’t question God, we shouldn’t be angry, we shouldn’t disagree with “God’s decision.” The problem is that isn’t how I feel. I have been angry, “How could you do this to her family and friends?” I have questioned how God could let this happen, “you could have protected her, it seemed like you had such great plans for her.” And I think it shouldn’t have happened, “God I just don’t know why this had to happen, what good can come of this?” I think for me to say anything else is disingenuous, it’s not honest and it would be repressing my feelings. I don’t think that’s what God wants from us. I think he wants the most genuine relationship possible. God knows how I feel anyway so it seems almost silly for me to pretend that I’m OK with this.
I actually think this attitude is biblical in a sense as well. There is a whole genre of psalms called lament psalms that aren’t necessarily love notes to God. They’re honest, they question God and they’re not happy with the way things are. Sounds like me. Most lament psalms end on a note of praise, but one doesn’t: Psalm 88. Here are a few pieces of it and the last stanza (where the praise usually is)
O LORD, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.
2 May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, O LORD, every day;
I spread out my hands to you.
13 But I cry to you for help, O LORD;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me
and hide your face from me?
15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death;
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me;
the darkness is my closest friend.
But you know what? I know God can take it. This isn’t hurting His feelings. This is honesty.
It’s like any relationship really. (I think about when my husband and I started dating) At first you fear conflict and confrontation, you think that it might end the relationship. Maybe the relationship isn’t strong enough to handle that conflict yet. But things start to bother you and build up, but you repress those feelings. As things go along something happens and you find yourself in conflict, wondering if the relationship will survive. It’s actually freeing when you find that you both can express your honest feelings (usually not positive ones) and that the other person reciprocates. I remember the first fight when my husband finally “fought back” and I thought “FINALLY!” I knew he was mad and I just wanted him to be honest with me. We made it through. We’ve made it through a few since then, and our relationship is strong and more honest because of it.
I think that’s the way it is with God. He wants that honesty from us. We’re not perfect, we don’t understand His will and we don’t need to pretend to. He knows what we’re thinking he knows what we’re feeling and he wants to hear it from us. He can take it, He does take and I think in that sometimes He too says “FINALLY!”