One of the most difficult parts of losing Jonah this past December has been how disconnected and distant I’ve felt from God. At a time in my life when I feel I need Him the most, I often feel like I did many years ago when I was finishing up college and going through absolute turmoil in my life…alone and without the answers that I wanted so much. The difference this time is I remember what it felt like to turn away from God and try to live my life MY way. I remember how lost I was, and how difficult those 5 years were. And I decided in early January that although I felt like God was so far away, I would never turn my back again. Even when I felt like I was calling out to Him and being ignored, I was going to remember His promise to never leave me. I believe there is a reason that we’ve experienced this so many times and I may never know that reason while I’m here on earth…but that’s okay. I wanted so much to believe that I was right for keeping faith in the unknown. And now, not quite 3 months later, I’ve finally started to feel God’s presence more.
At church one Sunday I knew from the moment I stepped through the doors that I had been brought there that day for a reason. We had almost skipped church that Sunday because it was absolute CHAOS in the Clark house that morning...Elijah woke up late, I woke up late. Elijah didn't want to eat breakfast or wear underwear. I began to think maybe it was a good day to just stay home. But we pushed through the craziness and went to church. I felt extremely anxious the entire morning, and I figured I was just having trouble relaxing from the morning. But I was having trouble not crying all morning...we would sing and I would become so overcome with emotions that I couldn't harness that morning. It was driving me crazy. More than once, I thought about just going home, but I stayed. The pastor started his message by saying the following:
"Nothing is as confusing to us...nothing is as disorienting to us as when our life suddenly takes a very difficult turn. When our life suddenly just takes a sharp, difficult turn in the other direction and we're facing something that is really, really tough. Like when something that has been good, is now bad. Or when something that has been precious to you, something that you've protected and you've kept safe...something really important to you is now vulnerable or in danger or it seems to be slipping away."
I started to feel a bit overwhelmed...okay, a LOT overwhelmed. When he continued by giving examples and said “…maybe it’s that routine doctor visit where the doctor says something could be wrong with your baby...”, I seriously thought about getting up and leaving, and I looked around to see if I could leave unnoticed (which, strangely enough, I couldn't...I was pretty close to the front that Sunday!). I remember praying at that moment and saying “Really, God? I can’t hear this today. I’m just not ready!” And suddenly I felt like I'd been shushed. Seriously, it was as if God quieted my anxiety for a moment and told me to listen. If you've ever been "shushed" by God, it's an interesting experience! I was sad, so hurt, anxious and really overwhelmed, but there was just a little peace, and I knew my heart was being opened to hear what I needed to hear. And it was enough to get me through that message…a message that I needed to hear that day to remind me that God hadn’t left me alone.
"What a lesson! There’s a big difference between simply being a Christian and knowing who Jesus is…and having a determined mind-set on God’s interests in a situation that is difficult."
The words were hard to hear, but in the same respect, it was reminding me of what I knew all along. I have to trust that God's ways are so much bigger than my own...I have to trust that He is in control...and I need to let HIM have that control.
"To lose your life…denying yourself, taking up your cross, following Jesus in your life…to find your life."
When we stood to sing later, I really felt my knees start to buckle and thought I’d have to sit down. But then I heard God...heard Him actually say to me “You’re going to be okay, Sandy…I’m still here”. And I knew for the first time since Jonah’s death that I was going to be okay. For any person who has felt God that close to him or her, you can relate when I say that it was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I felt a little less crazy than I have in the past few months. And although I still struggle sometimes to feel God, and I'm sure I will in the future, I never doubt that He is indeed there.
I don’t know what God has planned for us in the future, but we haven’t lost hope, and we plan to continue trying to have more children. Sometimes God doesn’t make sense, but I’ve learned in the past 11 years that he will never leave me. I’ve watched my life spiral completely out of control only for God to gently urge me to come back to Him, and when I did, He was there with open arms to accept me. I learned that even when I feel like God has left me alone, even for a moment that He hasn’t. I believe that part of this journey has been to teach me what true faith is. And although trusting in faith isn’t always easy, I know it’s the right road for me.