If you’re not a Christian, maybe you won’t understand this blog post at all. Even if you are a Christian, it might be confusing. Believing in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God is certainly not easy when your mum – your best friend and the person who knows you best in the whole world – dies after a two-year battle with cancer. Certainly, after I lost my mum my faith took a huge hit. But two and half years later, my faith is stronger than it’s ever been, and I hope you don’t mind me taking a moment to tell you about it.
A God with power over life and death
When I got a tattoo on the inside of my left wrist, depicting a small Christian cross, it was not just a meaningless symbol or a nice image – it was a permanent reminder of the fact that God sent his son Jesus – his only son – to be crucified on a cross in order to save my life. Jesus suffered death, and then on the third day rose again, resurrected from the grave in the miracle-to-end-all-miracles. It seems impossible, but I believe it to be true, because I believe in a God with the power to overcome even death itself.
So what do you think I prayed for when my mum died? A miracle of course. I pleaded with God, begged him and cried out to him – if you can raise your son, then you can raise my mum. Please, I just want her back so much.
The miracle never came of course, and I was faced with the fact that I believed in a God who had the power to raise someone from the dead, and chose not to. That is something I still struggle with, of course. And it is something that has led some people to abandon their faith. But for me, I have had to re-learn my faith – adapt to the new world I live in, and accept that my mum is – I believe – in heaven with a God who loves both her and me eternally and always acts in our best interest.
God, you ****!
I remember returning to my church in Nottingham just a few months after losing mum, and sheepishly admitting to my vicar that occasionally said bad things about God. What will the vicar think of me, I thought? How dare I criticise the God of the universe! The vicar shocked me by laughing a little and saying with a smile, “Good for you. God can take it, you know”.
Since then, shouting and screaming at God has been a helpful outlet for my pain and tears. There have been many occasions where I have said things to and about God that I could not possibly write here. There is no shame in being angry at God – I lost my mum and I have every right to be angry. What has been important for me is understanding that God can handle my anger and understands it all. He sees everything that has happened to me, and instead of feeling sorry for me, or turning his face away, he shows me his hand – scarred by the crucifixion marks, and reminds me that he felt all our pain and is right here with us as we cry out.
Some time away to heal
I spent some time away from God. I didn’t pray. I stood silently as the congregation sang worship around me. Once I even walked out of church halfway through a service – feeling uncomfortable in that place. I rejected miracles, didn’t believe that healing happened, and put my Bible in a drawer and didn’t look at it.
But God didn’t spend any time away from me. He loved me and cared for me through my whole, messy grieving process. When I shouted at him for abandoning me, he remained next to me, arms outstretched and ready to catch me as I fell.
It didn’t seem fair that God had taken away my mum, but on reflection I was pointing the finger of blame in an unhelpful way. God did not want the pain that I was feeling through grief – but in order for him to bless and love the world by giving us free will, he has to stand back, not getting involved and taking control, even when he think maybe that he should. However unfair it was, the more time I spent away from God, the more I missed him and realised I needed him. As I continue to grieve, there are things I still don’t fully understand, but as I allow myself to reflect, learn and heal, it gets easier every day and my faltering steps of faith become stronger and braver.
Learning to trust again
I’ve learnt a lot about myself through my counselling sessions, and one thing I’ve improved is letting go of control and accepting that sometimes, the journey of life is unpredictable, painful and out of my hands. We have to experience the worst in life to appreciate the best. And while that doesn’t take away from the pain of the present, it does give you hope for the future.
I trust in God’s ultimate power. I believe that he chose not to cure my mum’s cancer or raise her from the dead. I know that he wants what is best for me, and even though I can’t see it now, this life that I have been given is what is best for me. One day it will all become clear. One day I will return home to him, and see my mum again, and every tear and every scar will be taken away. Hope can seem far away, but I could not have coped through loss without my faith – at times I clung on, barely grasping at the seams. But now I’m on a path to recovery and I’m falling in love with God all over again. I trust him, and his plans for my life. And that is incredibly freeing and reminds me that every day is a blessing and I have so much to look forward to.
I’d love to hear what you think about this article – leave a comment below or write a piece of your own if you have lost a parent. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk about loss.