Eight Months Ago, My Faith Changed

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It’s eight months today. Eight months since a police officer knocked on my door, handed me a piece of paper and told me I needed to call this number. “It’s about your husband,” he said right before I shook his hand and thanked him. What the hell did I thank him for? Delivering the first part of the news for the doctors at the hospital to tell me and my son “we did all we could”, “he died instantly”, “he was hit by a truck that failed to yield”,  “he felt no pain” and “we’re very sorry”?  Yet I did. I thanked him. The Catholic, raised-with-manners, good-girl in me came out and thanked him with a shake of a hand. Seems kind of funny, in a way, in a morbid, ridiculous sort of way now. But then? I was on autopilot, auto-good-girl.

In these past eight months, much has stripped away my once over-the-top-polite, excuse-me-saying-when-I’m-bumped-into, optimistic-thinking, God-believing, and Peter-what-do-you-think persona. My entire philosophy in life, in death, in living, changed the moment I got the words “we did all we could”. The most painful awakening I had is when I began to  no longer believe anything happens for a reason. There was no reason Peter was killed. I will never believe God meant it to happen. The reasons for Peter’s death in no way could ever benefit me or my growth. It just happened and if his death just happened, perhaps everything else in life are coincidences not meant for learning or our own well-being or growth.  And this was once my basis for my faith in God.

I used to pray, before Peter, for peace and understanding of the lesson life was giving me. Even in my most painful moments – my nine month struggle with recovery from a concussion, walking away from a loved job, my empty nest, thyroid and breast cancer scares and my mother’s once-beautiful mind deteriorating. before my eyes, my heart – I believed God was handing me lessons. I believed through these struggles I would learn and God beside me as my guide. I believed that living in the two months of darkness because of a concussion, I needed to slow down and God knew this. I believed an empty nest, a truly emptied one, was my chance to begin my life again with just my husband, going back to our beginnings, and God would be there with me in those good times. I believed God showed me patience and a different kind of love when I saw my mother’s mind go places it never went before. I honestly and truly believed every thing in my life were lessons presented to learn and given by God. That is until Peter died.

After Peter died, I totally shut out God. I didn’t pray to Her/Him/They/Nongendered. I didn’t bring any part of God or religion to Peter’s Memorial Service. I didn’t acknowledge the existence of God, a purpose in God or my previous relationship with God as I mourned. The only thing I had regarding God was an anger so deep, so raw, so contrary to who I was, I may have crossed into hate.  When people told me they were praying for me, I responded “good because I’m not…I can’t.”

And I was told this was okay. I was told God understands. I was told God was a parent who can’t prevent bad things from happening and feels sad, pained when it does. I tried to wrap my head around that, grabbing any form of faith for the familiarity. In my youth, I was taught God was a patriarch, sitting on a throne, who judged and consequences came with our own good or evil.  Before Peter, I changed my belief to seeing God as love and good, and a She – I am a feminist – but still could not shake the controller of consequences.  And I abandoned God when Peter died. I abandoned God because what happened, what She controlled, was not good, was not love.  Peter was moral and right for this world.  I was good. And yet Peter still died, so what the heck was God doing? No one had answers for me. Not the pious of my friends, nor religious leaders. And if they didn’t, there was none, thus no God. Yes, that is how my angered mind worked…then.

Now, eight months later, there has been a shift in me. I no longer believe in the God I once held onto so dearly, so passionately. I no longer believe God gives out consequences. The answer I gave to the question “If there is a God, why does XYZ happen”, the answer of “We’ll find out one day”, no longer comes out of me. I stopped believing things happen for a reason, something I once said so flippantly, because I believed so strongly. I don’t even bother racking my brain for answers to every challenge  given me. It’s not how I view faith or God anymore. 

Here’s what I believe no in eight months of Grief. Anger is severe disappointment. That’s all it is. And my anger toward God was, if I’m honest still is a bit, because I was, am disappointed. I am disappointed God has with Her the man I need here with me. I am disappointed my faith, my beliefs were blown up the minute I knew Peter died. I am disappointed I no longer have blind faith as I was forced to see some harsh realities. And I am disappointed that part of me, a huge part of me, my faith, was altered eight months ago.

Yet, I also believe I can’t have disappointment in someone, some entity, unless I believe in its existence. Unless I hold love and give meaning toward He/She/They/Nongendered.  Disappointment, by definition, is the sorrow felt after the non-fulfillment of expectations. And the deeper your connection to a person, an event, a God, the deeper your sorrow. If I felt nothing toward God, I would not be battling with any of this. But I am and  I am starting to pray to God again.

I ask for guidance in a situation I couldn’t control, God didn’t control. I asked for Her/Him/They/Nongendered to take some of this from me. I ask for peace and more importantly to me, the healing of my children. I give up prayers of thanksgiving for the people who have held me up through all of this. I thank God for Peter and the love he gave me when Peter was alive and all he left me.  I am grateful for my children and our connection through it all. And I am thankful for my own strength and my ability to move these past eight months when all I wanted to do was stay still.

Eight months later, I still consider myself polite. I still think I am good. I still believe in God, just differently and less strongly. Yet I want and hope, and yes pray, that starts to grow. And while I’ve traveled on this road, this reluctant road, for these past eight months, I have learned lessons, noted the progress I’ve made, and felt the growth.  I don’t believe these were consequences of God, rather the necessities of what I was given. Not from God, rather from Life, or worse, Death. Maybe, just maybe, God has been the parent who held me through it all. I’m not as sure about that as I once was. You see, eight months ago when I shook the hand of a police officer, the catalyst in delivering the worse news I ever received, the strongest part of my once was, my faith, changed.