I need to be real for a minute. My faith has been shaken and has been for some time now.
I was in a really good place before all this. I attended church weekly. I served regularly. I was a part of the foster and adoption ministry. I took my boys to church with me. We prayed. We read the children’s bible together.
The day Jake was shot I prayed nonstop. I prayed with Jake in the ICU, for days, even knowing he wasn’t coming back.
Weeks and months to follow I could physically feel the prayers of an entire community pouring over us. The strength I had each day I knew came from God and those prayers, otherwise I couldn’t have continued to move forward. I even publicly thanked the community and shared that I felt their prayers.
In the time since losing Jake, I’ve tried to return. I’ve gone, dropped the boys in the kids ministry and sat outside the church unable to face the sermon. I’ve gone, sat through some of the service, and ran out fighting the tears and panic. I’ve even managed to sit through 1 or 2, but still sobbing through the whole thing.
It’s not that I don’t believe, it’s that I cannot face Him. I still read from the Bible when the kids ask. I still tell the kids about God, Jesus, and heaven as we discuss where their Daddy is now. I still believe. I see His work in our lives now as we have persevered through the roughest times of our lives.
But I can’t seem to actually let God in. I can’t pray. I cringe at Christian music that once healed my pain. I am left feeling betrayed. And that betrayal sinks deeper as people say things such as “God has a plan” and “everything happens for a reason.”
I feel the gaping hole of my soul where my belief used to live.
And yet today, 8 months after starting this writing, I felt a change of perspective deep within me. March 2nd, I prayed. I prayed harder than I ever had. With desperation, conviction, and repeatedly. I prayed for Jake to be okay. I prayed for him to recover. I prayed for him to not be in pain. And I prayed for us to be okay, having no idea what our future may hold for him physically, mentally, his rehabilitation, his career, and our little family.
I still remember being in the private waiting room outside the ER. I had asked the ER doctor in disbelief of what my ears were hearing to further explain the complexity of his injury. I needed the numbers, the chances, what did it mean that he was brain dead. Was there a percentage of recovery? Room for a miracle? Would machines keep him alive just so we would get that opportunity for God to move mountains?
I believe that doctor knew in that moment that I am a fact driven person. I weigh my choices and need to think through all possible outcomes. And that is when he sent the neurologist in to speak with me. In detail, she explained how the bullet entered his head and traveled across his brain. She explained how it tore across several parts of the brain and what those parts did for our bodies. And she told me that without a shadow of a doubt, the man I loved would never return. He was brain dead. His brain would never repair and could only continue to support his body function with a million machines for a very short period of time.
I can see this moment through my eyes and as an onlooker as sort of an out of body experience. My consciousness and body was consumed by this icy truth and I felt cold. My prayers were in vain. They meant nothing. And I felt completely and utterly alone and abandoned by God in that moment.
The last two and half years, I have maintained my belief in God but describe our relationship as not speaking. The day my mom died, I said one word as I drove to her house to meet the police for a welfare check, “God,” as if it was a warning to not fail me again. And it was too late. She was gone from this world to be with Him.
Within in the last week I learned that a friend of mine struggled with being angry with God for 15 years after she experienced a similar life trauma as myself. That simple bit of knowledge helped me to realize my feelings were valid and understandable. And that I was not to be ashamed or damned for them.
At some point today, between homeschooling the boys, my thoughts shifted.
What if God did answer my prayers on March 2nd?
Hear me out. “I prayed for Jake to be okay. I prayed for him to recover. I prayed for him to not be in pain. And I prayed for us to be okay, having no idea what our future may hold for him physically, mentally, his rehabilitation, his career, and our little family.”
The injury Jake suffered was catastrophic. What if God answered my prayers by taking Jake home to Him that weekend? Being with Christ, our Savior, Jake was okay despite his physical injury. Jake’s body could not recover, but his soul was untouched.
Our little family is okay. Maybe God knew just what our lives would become had he remained with us physically. And God has carried us this far, 2 years, 5 months, and 23 days since he was pronounced brain dead.
God has brought me closer to my family. Grief has forged a bond with my dad I wouldn’t trade for anything. My brother and I have talked and visited than ever. I repaired a relationship with my mom, and I will forever be grateful to have the time we did together with this renewed strength before her passing in April.
God has surrounded us with people that have helped us along the way, either for a short period of time or longer and each providing a life force that I needed. And God has shown me how to love again. To love a man that accepts us as we are and has jumped all in.
I do not believe God creates evil. Evil exists in our world and it did that fateful day. I have had my mind set that God left my prayers unanswered. However, like many things, when we look back in hindsight, we can see His work. It may not have been how we envisioned it but the evidence is still there.
As humans, we will never understand His knowledge and power. But in these moments, I may be able to rest in this peace of knowing that our all knowing God did not abandon me or ignore my pleas.