~Tommy and Angie Prince
Are you starting to feel like a Misfit in your child-loss-grief world? We are. Our child was killed. So, for example:
We now KNOW the world is not a safe place.
We cannot go to the store, mow the grass, even walk around the neighborhood without a gun in our pockets! We KNOW the world is not safe.
And on top of that, in our Traumatic Grief, we know our brains have been damaged by the severe stress of the past five years.
(No, no one else knows it, but we know it. Our lives have been traumatized, and our psyche is changed. You may not be able to see it, but we FEEL it.) So we know now, as normal as we might look, we still are going to be Misfits in many ways.
Now being a Misfit is not all bad. We now know what is important.
For instance, my family-of-origin is all fighting over 50-year-old furniture in my parents' house, to the point they refused to give me the key to my parents' house to spend the night this weekend (even though I live 250 miles away) because they can't find a few towels and a Bible! But they had already said we could spend the night the week before, and were too chicken to notify us their plans had changed. All over a couple of missing items...
Seriously, this happened! And these people are not poor people. They live in country club settings, and some of them right now, this very minute, are walking the streets of Italy on a vacation, one of whom is the one who had me locked out. So, they're away in Italy, but they sent their underling to ban us from my own parents' house where I lived since I was in second grade. It beats all I've ever seen; they don't need a stick of furniture in this house, but they sure don't want me to have anything either! (As if I want it, with that attitude coming at me!)
But I am so thankful; I KNOW what is important, and fighting over fifty-year old furniture is NOT, in my book anyway. What is important to me is my parents loved me, immensely, and never would have locked me out of their house. And that love will carry me the rest of my life, not their furniture.
Now, let any of us Misfits walk into a church… We are in intensive-care spiritually. We need God like we've never needed God; but we need Him intensively. Do you think we are going to get God intensively in a church of today?
Not in any that I have seen lately. If I were to hear any more nationalism in a Sunday School class or in a sermon, I think I literally would scream.
They are touting a platitudinal gospel that if you follow all these rules, God HAS to protect you and your family.
Do you think I belong there? Absolutely not.
I know my God loves me. I know my God loves my child.
I know my child was killed, so we will NOT always be protected in this fallen world; don't tell me otherwise.
But I also know my God is holding my child this very moment, and that is more important than anything else in the world to me right now.
The world is living out a mantra of "Blessed are those who are prosperous." (I think my family has fallen for that one unfortunately.)
God says, "Blessed are those who mourn." God is WITH us in our suffering; it is the sweetest visitation one can have to have the Loving, Living Lord put His arms around us as we weep.
He ministers to the weak and destitute. He ministers to the broken-hearted. And as broken-hearted as I am, I have a peace inside that others might pay fortunes for. For "blessed are those who mourn."
Some in the church would say (or insinuate): "Get over it. Come back to church." You can't! Your belief system has been challenged, if not ripped to shreds over your terrible loss. No fault of God's mind you; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But the faulty beliefs that somehow fell into our belief system have thrown us for a loop and forced us to re-examine everything, held up to the Light of God's Truth this time. And that takes work, WORK, Work.
Don't tell me to "Get over it"; you have no idea what child-loss-grief-and-trauma requires me to work through. You are cruel if you put YOUR agenda of "move-on-ness" on me, when I have SO MUCH to grapple with and work through.
In a book Tommy and I were reading last week, the pastor said two women came to church one Sunday to testify:
One said my child was in a terrible car crash this weekend, but God was there; my child was saved.
The other woman said, my child was in the car crash too, but she was killed; where was God?
Now, that is real life.
"I am traumatized over what I can and cannot pray about anymore."I prayed for God to keep my child safe; she was killed. I am almost afraid to pray now for anything other than comfort."That confusion has to be walked out, worked out before the Living, Loving Lord, not in a church building hearing platitudinal talk bantered around.
We have real life crises to walk through, including this crisis of faith… Somehow we had thought we would be protected, almost like being in an exclusive club, but now our insides know something different. This is the "Spiritual New Normal."
If a church member says "You should move on, and be over this by now," why would I want to go back there? It would be just like an abused person; why would you want to go back into that family?!
You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. We know the truth. We are all going to die some day. The others are whistling by the grave yard, thinking they'll live forever, and fighting over fifty-year old furniture that they may not be able to enjoy but for the next year or two. So, I ask you, what is really important? I think we child-loss grievers have a better clue than most anyone else. Perhaps being a Misfit ain't so bad after all.