Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oh, God is good to me...

One of the things that makes me maddest, of all the stupid things people say, is the belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. A former friend of ours was heard to say, "Well, what did you expect?" when he heard the news. We're not good enough for him. He went back to the LDS church, Dave did not. Tonight on Brandy's blog a well meaning commenter said a few things that I'd like to take issue with.

What many of you don't know about me is that when I began college I was firmly on the fence between being an agnostic and an atheist. Some of the doubts raised by this commenter were doubts I lived with on a daily basis.

My father died when I was 22 months old. I've carried a lot of bitterness and many questions for a lot of years. My children are 7, 5, and 3. Their dad was 39. I don't carry those doubts anymore.

When I was young I wrestled with the idea of the Trinity. One of my aunts explained it like this:

She took three matches and held them in her hand, one for each member of the trinity- the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. She lit each match and held the three together. Then she explained that fire is one element that increases as it is spread out- rather than becoming depleted it actually gains strength the farther you stretch it. But you have to feed it.

One of my neighbors explained the Holy Spirit as God's love living inside each one of us.

Genaura (my old roommate) was such a blessing. She never preached, didn't quote scriptures at me, didn't tell me how she was righteous or her faith was right where others were wrong. She just lived her life.

I think there's a light inside each and every one of us. When I arrived at the University my light was like a pilot light on a gas stove. It was still there but it was so small I didn't even register it's existence.

Genaura was filled with a glow so large it spilled out from her and touched those around her. Without doing anything more than living her life- she filled me. My light fed from her light. Through the years that light has gained in strength and intensity. If you feed it it will grow.

There are things I have done this year that I knew at the time were unusual for me and our family. When the apricot tree bloomed early I believed that, just like the past 5 years, we would not have an apricot crop this year. When it froze (and it did freeze more than once after the tree bloomed) I prayed, "Lord, please save the apricots. Please let us have an apricot crop this year." Every time it frosted, "Lord, please let my family enjoy apricots this year."

If you follow me on facebook you already know that we had such an abundance of apricots that my entire freezer is filled with them. We ate and ate and ate and enjoyed the abundant apricots. I worked long, long days making jam and I smiled the whole time and while I worked I sang, "Oh God is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseeds. Oh God. Is. Good. To. Me. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen...... amen.

I tried all summer to teach that song to my children and started using it as a blessing before meals. I had to look up the lyrics when the apricots starting ripening because I vaguely remembered the song and felt such a strong need to sing it. Whenever I tried to get my youngest to sing he would sing the song he made up about his blanket. It's titled, "Blankie, Blankie, Blankie." He never did show the slightest interest in my appleseed song.

The day Dave died several things happened that were not quite usual and customary for our family. It was October 1st. October 1st is the start of the new 4-H year. Our club meets the first Thursday of each month. October 1st is a Thursday. Sam, Chris and I went to 4-H that night. Before we left I packed their lunches for the next day and Dave helped me. We stayed longer than usual because it was our enrollment meeting and people kept waylaying me.

Usually our evening routine had me on the computer (because I very much need a little alone time now and then) and the kids playing out in the shop with Dave. Dave died while I was at 4-H. My Sam would probably have been playing in the same room at the time it happened.

Usually I'm playing on the computer or writing when it's time for the kids to go to bed. Dave handles bedtime. When the kids finish getting their stories from Grandma Chris goes out to the shop to tell his dad that it's time for good night rides.

On October 1st my dogs were driving me crazy. I thought they wanted food but when I filled their bowl they ran out of our house and towards the shop. I figured that Dave was out there watching TV and just waiting for a commercial before he came inside to see us.

Except that I kept thinking, "What if he's laying out there dead?"

But I shrugged that off until the dogs started doing their jig and running between the house and shop. At that point I saw red all over the floor of the garage. My heart stopped and I wondered if Dave had injured himself and gotten to the shop only to bleed to death. Then I realized what I was seeing was chalk all over the floor from when he cut my Styrofoam sheets for the kids to use in their bug class.

I walked out to the shop and my dogs were waiting, like sentinels, on either side of the door. At that point I knew something was wrong. I entered the building and there he was. Dave looked like he had fallen asleep. I knew.

Thursday night was the most terrible experience I've endured in my entire life. But in many ways this is also the most miraculous time of my entire existence. Things have happened for us this week that I have no explanation for. We are so surrounded by love. We were surrounded even as I found him. There are so many little things, too many to even begin listing that have to be miracles.

My God is a loving God. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We'll never know why. It's a mystery. I'm ok with that.

You need to know that my burden is heavy. The words to Until It Sleeps say much more eloquently what is seething inside me than my words could ever convey. But every time I play that song and the grief almost overwhelms me my three year old comes running in the door singing, "Oh God is good to me..."

Always read scripture in context. Don't ever take someone else's interpretation of it. Think for yourself. With that admonishment I'd like to share Ezekiel 34:26, "I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." We are so blessed. Our family is surrounded by the love and the light that radiated from David- and his light shone bright, oh it was so bright. That light has not dimmed even though the body that housed it is no longer with us. And on Friday morning I cried as I stood where my husband had died and I sang the appleseed song.

Today when I thought that the monster inside me was going to be very hard to fight my three year old came every time I almost gave way and he sang, "Oh God is good to me..." A few times he just kept repeating those few words until I could smile and finish the song with him.

Never doubt that God is loving and merciful. Why did he choose now to call my husband home? It's a mystery. There are many mysteries in life. We're not meant to know everything. There isn't an answer we can understand for every question we ask.

Know. Know beyond a shadow of doubt. WE ARE LOVED.

Thursday night I was sitting next to an old friend from the days when I was a 4-H member. We watched a woman working with the kids who were learning how to run a meeting. She is so happy, and goofy, and amazing. Her light spills over and feeds the light inside all of the people in our club. Within the past few years she lost a son and had her other son's wife die- leaving two little boys without a mother. Brenda never talks during the meetings. On Thursday she leaned over and whispered, "I don't know how she gets out of bed in the mornings."

I can tell you how she gets out of bed in the morning. WE ARE LOVED.

This week people keep telling me, "You are the strongest woman I know." I'm not strong. I am weak. The beast stirs inside me. I feel it under my skin. And it hates you. Don't ask this week how I'm doing. I might tell you. You will be scarred. Because the beast stirs. But whenever the beast stirs my three year old comes running.

Oh God is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun, and the rain and the appleseeds. Oh God is good to me.


Mrs. B. Roth said...

I just think you are amazing, still. always. I know it;s hard, but you are brilliant and if you'll just accept help, ask for it if necessary, I know you will be great. If there is anything I can ever do, I am almost always on-line! Sleep, beautiful girl!

Hug your boys for me!

Also, tell "Santa" he can bring us a kitty if there's a spare who needs a home (we like them sweet).

Marbel said...

I am so sorry. This post was beautiful. Truly inspired and inspiring.

Janet said...

I just asked demanded that someone read this post (and the ones before it). Be aware that there are two messages here. One's not a truth, it's from the beast but in order to complete this it had to be included. I couldn't bury it anymore.

The other message is from someone much wiser than I am. Please leave the first message and take the last one.

katie said...

Oh, Janet, I'm sorry I'm not there. I have so many thoughts that have been running circles in my brain and I will write you a real letter with them.

I love your appleseed song. I love my apricot jam from your tree! That was a nice day when we came to pick apricots and Dave was swimming with the boys in the backyard. God does love us. He wouldn't let this happen unless it was for a supremely important reason, I am sure of this. He gave His Son for us and it must have been the hardest sacrifice. It was not fair. He died too young. He was perfect. But, he had to go to save us all. Maybe Dave has another mission that could only be done away from this life? I keep thinking this. Maybe we have work that we still have to do on earth, that we can't leave this world yet to accomplish. Sometimes I think Dave's heart was not really ever meant for this world. Sometimes I think that there was a part of him that was too kind and tender. I thought this about Uncle Kim too--that there was part of him that was too much for this life.

There's this highly mockable video from the LDS church in the 70's called Build You a Rainbow and I was obsessed with it when I was little. The mom tells her son that she's spent more time with her son in 8 years than most moms do in a whole lifetime and I keep thinking about that with Dave. That he was a dad that was there and did so much for his sons and it wasn't long enough, but it was still more than most kids get in a lifetime.

Mambinki said...

Janet, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope that reaching out into the blog world, the 4-H world, the amazing mommy world and all your other worlds will help to heal and sooth the feelings related to your loss.
It is true, what they say, that every day is precious and amazing and not to be taken for granted.
Sending hugs and thoughts your way,

Simplymom said...

You are loved, by God and by your friends. Please know that I am here anytime and please ask for help when you need it. It is so hard to know what is helpful and what is "in the way." I know when we lost Jason, my grief seemed to come in waves. I would think I was doing better, and then hear a song or see someone else holding their baby, and the pain would come back in earnest. Sometimes music is amazing in saying what you can't express. I understand how you can feel the pain at the same time you feel the love. Love is the only thing that makes the pain bearable. You are in my prayers.

katie said...

I think Simplymom is comes in waves. I heard someone compare it to a faucet that just kept getting turned on when they least expected it.

j4luck said...

I agree about grief coming in waves. My father died almost 13 years ago and some days I feel overwhelming grief as if it just happened, certain songs are often what triggers it for me too, but it can be the smallest little thing that just turns that "faucet" on.
I've come to think of grief as something that you learn to live with, not something you have and then eventually it goes away.
The first year especially is full of tough moments.
Janet, it sounds like you have a lot of people around you who will give you support any time you need it, and I am sure you will know when you do. Every body deals with grief in such a unique way that its hard to know what to offer someone besides your sympathy compassion and time. You are handling this with such grace, even if you don't feel that way inside all the time. The blog is a very safe place to let the beast come out once and a while.

Chris said...

I'm so happy that you have found peace Janet. I don't know you but I know that you have gone through a hell that no one should have to go through. I am incredibly sorry for your loss.

The ideas I expressed in that comment on Brandy's blog seem to be incredibly inappropriate for someone who is experiencing such tragedy.

I personally do not find it comforting or useful to believe that there is a divine personality who can take responsibility for the events that bring us our greatest joys and our deepest sorrows.

But aside from my personal conclusions about God and the universe I believe that happiness is invaluable and any belief that can comfort someone and help them continue to see their purpose in the face of such trial is of great worth.

I admire your strength of character. Good luck in your journey.

Janet said...

Chris, thanks for commenting. Your remarks touched me, not because they're inappropriate, but because I HAVE BEEN THERE. Everything you said would have rung true for me when I was in my early twenties. Every last word is something that I would have at least thought, even if I didn't voice it. I need people to know that I have seen miracles. They're so personal that I feel uncomfortable writing them. But know that I have seen them.

jugglingpaynes said...

Hi Janet,

Just sending some extra hugs and prayers your way. It was both painful and inspiring to read this post. Thank you for sharing your experience.


Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room