One of the things I've struggled with since Tyler & Ethan's deaths is how God could have let this happen. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayers we received while I was on bedrest; why didn't God answer all those prayers? It baffled me why someone who loves me and my family so much would subject us to such hurt. So I couldn't help but wonder...does he love me? Or was I in need of being taught a lesson? And if so, how awful that my children were lost because I messed up with God. Then, I read The Shack by William P. Young.
My friend Missy told me that her dad read this book in like two days becaues he was so into it. All either one of us knew about it was what we read in the book reviews online. So of course, the fact that the book dealt with a parent losing a child and talking to God about it intrigued me. I'll give you a summary of what I took away from the book and I'll try REALLY HARD not to spoil it for those of you who want to read it yourself! :)
First, you must know that the book is based on a true story. A man takes his children camping while his wife is out of town, and his 5 year old daughter gets kidnapped and eventually murdered. Her body is never found. I have to say, I almost didn't read more than the first two chapters because I have a 4 year old daughter and we camp...I spent the first couple nights bawling at the thought, but I pressed on. Anyway... the man lives with what he calls "The Great Sadness", and his wife and remaining children are also grieving. The man cannot fathom why God wouldn't have saved his daughter (whose name is also Missy). Then one day he gets a note in the mailbox that says something to the effect of "I'll be at the shack this weekend and I hope you'll join me. Love, Papa." Papa is how the man's wife refers to God. The man is intrigued and goes to the shack, which is where authorities had determined was Missy's murder scene. He ends up spending the weekend with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and learns a lot. Here are some of my big take-aways from the story of that weekend trip:
- God loves us like we love our own children. Mac (Missy's father) is told that two of his remaining kids will go to Heaven and the other two will go to Hell and that he must choose who goes where. Mac is frantic; he loves his children and doesn't want to see any of them in Hell. He is asked "well one of them must disappoint you or make you angry. Send that one." Mac says that even when his children are in trouble, he loves them and would never want to see them hurt. Once he gets that through his head, he realizes that he's being taught a lesson (and doesn't actualy have to send his kids to hell, in case you were wondering!). We don't want to see our children suffer, and neither does God. It broke his heart just as much to see Missy die as it did her father's, and I can now see that it must have hurt him to see Tyler & Ethan pass as well.
- God loves us so much that he gave us our independence, like a parent sending his child off to college. However, by giving us our independence, part of the deal is that he cannot intervene. There are bad things in this world, and in the book, God comes out and says that he/she cannot intervene. But what he/she can do is to be there for us in our time of need. I'm still conceptualizing this one, but it has given me some comfort. I know now that I'm not being punished and that Tyler & Ethan's death was not brought on by my own character or lessons I needed to learn. It was a bad thing that happened, and God didn't want to see it happen any more than I did.
- Forgiveness doesn't mean that you are saying what was done is ok; it means that you are freeing yourself frm the burden of dwelling on the wrong-doing. Revenge, resentment and hatred do not hurt the person who offended you; they only hurt YOU. Mac is asked to forgive his daughter's killer, and he doesn't think he can do it because he is so angry and what that person did was so wrong. God explains that forgiveness doesn't mean you condone the actions; just that you can live your life without that hatred in your heart.
It ends REALLY good too, but I won't spoil it. I'll just say that by the end of the book, you'll be pretty convinced that this guy wasn't a whack job or having delusions and that it really is a true story.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you are dealing with the death of a child or someone close to you and are harboring some resentment towards God. I got a lot of perspective from reading this book, and I feel like I've taken another step forward in this journey.
So what's up with me this month? Well, let's see...the flood of pregnant friends and new babies is still continuing all around me. Feeling pretty overwhelmed lately. I'm happy for each and every one of them, but every time I hear someone announce their pregnancy, my heart aches for what I've lost and my chest tightens at the though of what's still to be (or not to be) for us. The future upsets me as much as the past, because we've been given the medical ok to try again. I worry that I'll have another miscarriage or another complicated pregnancy and I get mad that I can't just pop out healthy babies like most of my friends do. I seriously might tackle someone one of these days (not a pregnant woman though of course)! So I do my best to stay positive and take it one day at a time. What's meant to be will always find a way, right?
Thanks for reading!