Normal?

February 25, 2010

It’s been some time since I’ve felt like blogging and had time to blog at the same time.  It’s in part because I’ve felt like things are getting back to normal a bit.  It’s weird, because as much as I want to get back to normal, I am overwhelmed at all that normal has to offer.  Can I handle all that my life consisted of prior to losing Hosanna, for more than a week or so?  Can I truly sustain this pace of life, now that my energies have been so depleted?  What makes normal so abnormal is how uncertain I feel about my capacity to handle it, which leaves me feeling unsettled.  It’s inescapable — the more I want things to be normal, the more unsettled and dissatisfied I feel with the way things are.  The more I sit and accept the fact that normal will be abnormal for some time, the more I want God to give me that instant fix, and the more I strive for it myself.

Frankly, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that God and others owe me something.  When I ask God for something in prayer, part of me wants to tell God that answering my prayer is the least He can do for not saving Hosanna.  When a stranger or another person is hateful to me, part of me wants to shock them with what has happened in my family within the past month, just to make them feel terrible about themselves.  After all, the world owes me, right?  I know that in order to avoid bitterness, and to keep from allowing myself to be defined by my past and my tragedy, I must work through these feelings and come to terms with the fact that no one owes me anything.  The kindness that God and people offer me is not because I deserve it, but because they have chosen to be kind.  I am exceedingly grateful for that kindness.

I also notice how unsettled I feel when I hear of things that happen to people close to me.  When I see good happen to someone, part of me wonders why it couldn’t have happened to me.  When I see disaster strike someone close to me, I wonder whether God has just been on vacation for the first part of 2010.  And believe me, I’ve seen much of both within the past month, and I call out to God for justice on behalf of all of us who have been rendered powerless at the hands of a fallen world’s evils.  Within the past month, God has allowed me to stare evil in the face in so many different ways, and I wonder why He’s allowed me and Julee to walk this path.  I wonder why, not in a “what’s the greater purpose of this suffering” kind of way, as if I need every event in my life to have meaning and to be part of God’s plan, but in more of a “couldn’t I have been afflicted in another way” kind of way.  I don’t expect to ever have a satisfactory answer for that question, and the trite Christianisms of “God closes a door to open another” or “God has a plan” do more to anger me than give me peace.  I cannot imagine a God that requires tragedies like this (and so many others that we’ve seen in our world just this year) as integral parts of some “plan” for our lives.  That understanding leaves me with the same question, “couldn’t there have been another way?”

Truth is, I don’t think I’ll have an answer, but I do have a God that understands and seeks to comfort those who are afflicted.  He has done much to comfort me, though I still have more moments of unsettledness than moments of peace.  I ask you to pray that peace overcomes discord, and that evil is overcome by good for so many in my life and around the world who are in a season of pain.

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3 Responses to “Normal?”

  1. Dave Tuell Says:

    Man, I still can’t imagine what you must be going through, and while I don’t proclaim to have the “answer”, I do want to relay some things I’ve recently learned and thought about since this tragedy.

    Throughout this post, I am hearing that you feel expected, even obligated, to fully recover from this and be “normal” again, as you say. Why? That’s what we Christians do right? We work through our feelings and just know these things are a part of God’s great plan for this world. We put the smiles back on our faces, because we have to get right back out there and keep doing God’s work. Inspired yet? Didn’t think so. The reason for that is I think this viewpoint misses some crucial truths about our relationship with Jesus Christ and our role within it.

    While we are different people and we may respond to things differently, or may be at different points in our relationship with Christ, I can tell you one thing: If I went through a similar tragedy, if I were to lose one of my daughters, I would never be the same man as long as I lived on this Earth. Would I go on living a “normal” life with my family, a job, etc.? Sure. I would pray the grace of God would give me strength to carry on day by day, but to expect me to be the same person as before, to expect me to act and be as if the tragedy never occurred, is outright unreasonable.

    I’m not saying that to be discouraging, but to highlight this point. If I, as a fellow father yet imperfect human being can understand this, does our Heavenly Father not have the grace and understanding to know this? I don’t think God expects you to “get back to normal” or even bother yourself with the notion of “His plan”. I think He just wants to be there for you as you grieve. He wants you to reach out for His grace in your time of need. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a “Comforter”, and thus you will feel comfort by its promptings and presence, not obligation or guilt.

    Thanks for sharing your feelings, man. That in of itself would take more strength than I would have at this point. If you need to talk to someone, shoot me an email and I’ll reply w/ my number. God Bless, buddy. – Dave

    • babeedunn Says:

      Dave, thank you for your words. You speak so much truth. I guess the “unsettledness” I feel as I have been getting back into jobs and school is not so much what’s going on around me, but what is going on within me. It is me who has changed. I have to accept that fact that I’m going to be different from here on out, I’m going to be afraid of this happening again, and I’m going to think about it often. I think the answer lies somewhere in the tension between being changed by my pain and being defined by it. I don’t want to allow this to define me, as some sort of a chip on my shoulder, but I don’t want to deny its impact upon me either. It’s a tough tightrope to walk. Your words and prayers are exceedingly helpful as a reminder not to forget how I’m different from this. Love you man!

  2. Amanda Murray Schwart Says:

    Jason, I am so sorry. There are no words, and I don’t know what else to say. I have no words of wisdom or knowledge to impart. But I wanted to let you know that I read your story and am so terribly sorry for your wife and you.


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