There are certain things that most find to be inappropriate to talk about in a public setting: topics like politics (booooring!), work (I hope they don't read that past post), personal problems (...I hope they don't read my whole blog whatsoever), and religion, which I'm about to discuss right now. Woopsies, I'm such a rebel.
You dragged me to church with you a few dozen times when I was younger until I made it so completely unbearable for you that you started leaving me at home. It never bothered me that I didn't learn about God or understand what He was all about in the least bit. My friends didn't ever go to church, and quite honestly I can't remember a time they ever even mentioned religion at all. It just simply wasn't a part of my life, and I never felt a void or noticed anything was missing... until my first, beloved childhood pet was put to sleep.
I never told you, but I prayed to Dixie and God the night she died and continued to every night for the next six years (that was probably when I realized how uncool and weird it was to pray to a dead dog, so she was eliminated from my little nightly spiel, and I just asked God to continue to take care of her up there instead). Sometimes my prayers were simple and quick, while other nights they would literally last about half an hour. Like I said, I hadn't been to church since I was really young, so I absolutely had no idea what I was doing; I just rambled (clearly that's one of the things I excel in) and asked that He watch over my loved ones.
When you were diagnosed with cancer for the first time, and even through your recurrence, I still allowed myself to believe He was listening to my prayers and watching over you. I never stopped praying and hoping for a cure for the disease that was going to eventually take you from me. I remained faithful because, in my mind, losing faith in God meant losing faith in you and your odds of survival.
The night you told me you were dying was the night I stopped believing. I decided to stop praying for the first time in almost 10 years, and it was honestly a fairly easy decision; I was just so empty.
I was reading song lyrics one day (while you were still alive) about how the silence I felt from God was speaking volumes to me. I felt like He had let me down, therefore causing me to doubt His existance. As I walked away from my computer to go see you downstairs, the TV turned on across the room. It was on a scambled, static channel, and it was blaring. I ran over to turn it off, smiling. Was this His way of showing me He was listening? The doctors are wrong, I thought, my mom's going to live! I was positive that this was a message from God saying just that.
But, a month later, you died. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe He let this happen. He didn't care about you, our family, or even me, so why should I care about Him? I was so angry and found that rebelling against Him was the only way to feel anything anymore, so that's exactly what I did.
For the next year or so, I hung out with the "cool" college crowd, went out a little too much, and wore clothes that would give Dad a heart attack. It's something that now, looking back on, I'm not proud of, but at the time, I thought filled the void (I was in grief therapy during all this, but never addressed my weekend rituals with my couselor). Don't get me wrong, I still went to class, and I even started making the Dean's List; my actions were nothing more than what most correlate with that of a "typical college girl", but it was out of character for me.
The following January, I snapped back to reality. I remembered that I expected and wanted more for myself-- and you would've too. I needed a change. And one day, something just clicked, but I can't quite tell you what it was. I remember going to church with a friend, seeing the people singing with their hands outstretched towards the sky, and thinking, wow, I want to feel what they feel.
Suddenly, I started to.
I'll be honest, I don't know much about Him, but I'm open to learning for the first time in a long time. Out of the blue, I began to realize that He didn't kill you like I accused Him of... He saved you. I think I feel a lot of guilt for ever questioning His actions, but I was uninformed, scared, and utterly broken. Is that excusable? Will I ever be forgiven for those actions and my thoughts? Those questions hang over my head like the blade of a guillotine. I just need to know that I'm forgiven.
I listen to some Christian radio stations in the car now that I once found too over the top. On many occasions some of these songs even bring me to tears. One of those moments happened this morning on my drive to work while my past mistakes and guilt were weighing heavily on my mind. Right at that very moment, I heard this:
Well, the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I'm reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just won't let me forget
In this life I know where I've been,
But in your arms I know what I am
And I don't have to carry
The weight of who I've been
Cause I'm forgiven
Fighting back tears, all I could think was, Thank God.
I love you,