Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Trust - Does Being a Christian Mean Grief Hurts Less? ~Angie and Tommy Prince

Tuesday's Trust

Does Being a Christian Mean Grief Hurts Less?

~Angie and Tommy Prince

Last Tuesday, I began our post with the first quote below. We think it is such a profound statement, we wanted to address it further in this week's post:

I heard a message once that faith does not make the grief hurt any less, and I appreciate the honesty of that because I think we do people an unspeakable disservice when we assume that faith somehow ought to make it less painful of a road to walk. 

~Alina Sato

And, what if we were all to conspire to work together to always present a positive image even to the very negative experiences of life, never showing the underbelly of the pain and tragedy we've undergone and the dilemmas of our faith that must be worked through, over and over and over, after Child-Loss? This person says it so well I think:

Whatever is unnamed, undepicted in images, whatever is omitted from biography, censored in collections of letters, whatever is misnamed as something else, made difficult-to-come-by, whatever is buried in the memory by the collapse of meaning under an inadequate or lying language - - this will become, not merely unspoken, but unspeakable. 

~Adrienne Rich

What are our churches hoping to gain when they attempt to reach the lost by carnal means even as they are hoping to produce a spiritual result? It simply does not work that way! The Bible itself, God's Word, does not mince words about the real issues and sins and tragedies that were going on in the lives of His people - the very people whom He had called unto Himself. Are we then to mince words regarding our very real pain and tragedy so that the lost will more likely be drawn into the "Victorious Life" of a Christian?

Much of the Christian theology out there these days suggests we are exempt from tragedies happening if we are a child of God. It's like double trouble being a Christian:  

A) Tragedy is not "supposed" to happen to a Christian.  

B) If it does, then it's not supposed to hurt! 

Tommy and I have actually been accosted by a well-meaning, but incredibly naive, Christian friend of ours when he crossed our paths about a year (only a year, mind you!) after the loss of Merry Katherine, who, the same age as his daughter, went to church together, went to school together, and were friends and fellow-athletes with one another. Evidently shocked that we could still be grieving one year after our great loss, he very uncomfortably asked us, 

"Well, isn't it supposed to make a difference that you have God?!"

Much of the feedback I have gotten from Christians who are not child-loss grievers is that my writing is too "dark." So where does that leave us child-loss grievers who are forced to be honest with our pain (which, yes, is ofttimes "dark,") or we will not heal? 

As Christian, grieving father, Dennis Mansfield commented on his Facebook page that to deal with our grief, it is important that we keep our hearts soft so that we can process through our grief. (See his quotes below.) I agree with him. How would we be able to process through our multi-dimensional grief if we were always feeling the need to play pretend, as if our version of theology were to create a myth of magical freedom from pain in order to protect God Almighty's reputation? 

And if we do not write about our pain, are we denying many thousands of parents the truth of our pain, and therefore the truth of their pain, to cover it over and whitewash it in order to "look" better. That is even more of an offense to our Lord, to not think He can handle His own reputation in the long run, that even though it may look sullied in the short term, it simply is the case that we do not have all the story while we are here on this earth. 

Thankfully, God does not ask us to mince words with our pain. He encourages us to be real, and to reach out to other broken hearts like ours.

Dennis Mansfield's Facebook comment (evidently) to someone's disclosure:

"Each of us has difficult times in our lives. Most of us simply keep it inside. May your hard spot be softened.. for that's the only way to heal. I know this to be true."

Mansfield goes on to introduce the excerpt to his new book about to be released in March, 2013, in which he addresses the loss of his oldest child to drugs:

"This is an excerpt from a chapter that captures the initial deep question that (was) posed to ourselves (or better yet, was thrust at us; and against which we were forced to respond.)

"Though deeply and profoundly sad (a sadness from which I wondered at times if I could ever survive.)"

In his excerpt, he refers back to his deep question…

"At 27 years of age, our beautiful, beautiful boy, Nate, was dead apparently because of drugs. My mind stopped. My heart nearly did, as well. How had our family come to this? I was a leader in the national pro-family movement. I loved my son. What happened to our intentional, planned and purposeful parenting? All the family legislation and marriage conferences we worked on, suddenly seemed to amount to nothing; all the home schooling, all the summer vacation bible schools, all our parental warnings of the outside world and all the energy in constructing a godly Christian barrier to that world, seemingly amounted to nothing. 

"Why had all our efforts not worked?"

Dennis Mansfield's book, Beautiful Nate: A Memoir of a Family's Love, A Life Lost, and Eternal Promises is to come out in March, 2013. Thank you Dennis for your contribution to the bereaved parents' journey.


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