I was so sure God was going to spare Brielle. Miracle after miracle happened during my pregnancy. I experienced things and felt things that I had only heard about, and that I had previously dismissed as fanaticism. But then I lived a miracle. I wrestled with my doubt and skepticism. I knew what should be and what should happen. And at times I felt foolish for even trying. I felt foolish for sharing my faith, because what if He doesn’t heal her? What if she doesn’t survive?
Our walk with Brielle forced us to ask questions that no one really had answers for. David and I spent a great deal of time in prayer and scripture. I’d spend days fasting and meditating, solely devoted on Brielle and her survival. And I wrestled with myself. A voice in my head always told me to doubt, that I was being ridiculous. I wanted to believe that voice, because that little voice was easier to believe. We all doubt, I know that I am not alone in that. And during my pregnancy, I wondered if I would be punished for doubting, that maybe my faith wasn’t strong enough and that I would pay a price for that.
I knew better. Throughout my life I have experienced God’s hand in my life, time and time again. He has loved me and carried me through multiple tragedies in my life. And I didn’t deserve all that He did for me. He didn’t penalize me for my infantile faith then, so why would He now? And yet, I doubted. What David and I asked for, it was everything. To us, Brielle’s life was the biggest request we would ever ask for.
And God said, “No.” I talk more about some of the things He said yes to here, but the no He did give stung. It hurt, it hurt both David and I. And our faith was shaken. It sunk in more slowly for me, it took time for Brielle’s absence to really become something I could accept. Of course, I knew she was gone. I was keenly aware of that, but a part of me kept waiting to wake up. We’d be together again soon, right? And then the reality of how long it would be, until I’d hold her again, began to sink in. It’s still sinking in. That pain is unimaginable.
I knew God had a good reason for saying no, so I didn’t struggle with the why. Instead, I struggled with the pain of His answer. And I began to question myself, I began to question everything.
“Did I really experience everything I experienced?”
“Is He really listening to me?”
“Why did my daughter have to die?”
I was frustrated with him and I felt guilty. I questioned my love for Him. I questioned my faith.
“Did he penalize me for doubting?”
“Was my faith not strong enough?”
I wanted answers. I wanted this all to be a very, very bad dream.
My grief, physical pain, and spiritual pain left me exhausted. And the fervor which I used to pray and meditate with was gone. I struggled with day to day tasks. I wanted, and still do, to just slip away. To zone out and be alone. I didn’t have the strength for anything more and my prayers were half hearted cries for mercy. I had lost the spiritual connection I once had. I couldn’t seem to feel anything but my own numbing pain. I felt guilty, ashamed. I felt that it was wrong of me to have begged and begged for miracles and then to have grown silent when He didn’t answer the way I wanted. I felt childish.
Most of all, I felt ashamed. I felt foolish. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I had put my faith on the line for Him, that I had publicly declared what we were praying for and that He had publicly declined my request. My pride was hurt and I am humbled. And He was silent.
After Brielle died, I thought life couldn’t get much worse, it became far worse. Stressors in our lives became almost unbearable. We were abused. We lost family relationships. We lost friends. Our finances plummeted. I became a caregiver. A mass on my skull (that had shown up during pregnancy) became unbearably painful. David’s horrible job, somehow, became even more horrible. We cried out for God, we cried out for help. And He was silent. We knew God was listening. We knew our cries weren’t being ignored, but where was He?
I felt even more foolish and ashamed. Had I done something wrong? Were we being punished? Or were we being prepared for something in our future?
I sat on the floor in my bedroom and said, “This is what I want in my life God, now do what you want.” I finally had enough strength to talk, to speak to Him like an old friend. And I felt Him again. I felt the prompting to pray for specific things again. I felt the all consuming peace I feel when I speak to Him. I felt His love again. I felt warm and I felt hopeful. For the first time in months, I felt positive.
I missed Him. I know that I am still struggling to get into my new normal. I also know that God did not punish me for having doubt. He has not abandoned me, He’s just been waiting. Like a good friend should, He’s just been waiting for me to be ready.
I don’t know what is ahead for my family. I know I am going to have times in my future where things will be tough, where I doubt, where I struggle. I know that I am going to make mistakes and that I am far from perfect. But I do know that God will not abandon me. I do know that He loves me fully and completely.
I know that to some God can seem like an abstract concept, an oppressive being. To me, He has always been my best friend. The shoulder I lean on and the one I confide in. He has held my hand through every storm and I have felt His presence through all the highs and lows of my life. And I am content and pleased to go where He leads. Whatever He asks, I will do. In the process, I may mess up, but I can trust that I can always come back and make it right. I am at peace. And it feels so good to feel His presence again.