Welcoming the Mystery…
“Everything happens for a reason.”
I’ve had an interesting journey with these words. At first it was the thing that brought me comfort. I dutifully clung to it like some kind of religious mantra, desperate to assign it as the meaning behind my infertility struggle. There had to be a reason. HAD TO. And so for years, I placated my hurts, pasted a fake smile on my face, and tried to convince myself it all made sense. It became my Gospel. There was a reason we hadn’t been able to conceive, a special reason. And once I found that reason, my heart would be comforted. God and I would be on the same page. I would understand and then all of this waiting, pain, and dashed hopes would make sense. It would be worth it. I just had to seek enough, pray enough, be faithful enough for this reason to be revealed.
But here is the thing with cliches….one day they aren’t enough.
One day your heart is hurting so much you take a sledgehammer to those words in a fit of anger and grief. You scream “BULLSHIT,” and pound your fists against them and are surprised to find they are nothing but fragile glass. They shatter at your feet and you are left bleeding, your heart pounding in your chest, your breath catching in sobs.
And deep down you find that this is what you feared all along…that you subscribed to a half truth, a half lie, and now you didn’t know what to do with all the pain, all the confusion, all the uncertainty.
After all, if there isn’t a reason to be understood, what does that say about me, and what did it say about God? Was He good? Was He just this far off being that didn’t care? Did I matter? Did He hear my prayers? Did he even exist?
So you do the only thing you can do. You sit in your pain. You sit in the deep struggle of it. You stop trying to turn over rocks. Stop the attempt to interpret life with a decoder ring pulled from a cereal box. Stop blindly following a map that is supposedly going to lead you to the elusive “buried treasure.” All of these are thinly disguised by a well-intentioned, but shallow faith.
And it’s hard. Incredibly hard. The tension is almost unbearable at first. But clarity becomes it eventual companion. And it revealed something.
I was so tired of pursing a Gospel of “getting,”…of having a faith that felt more like a band-aid, or that kept the monsters barely contained under the bed while I slept. Oh, the shallowness of it all.
No wonder it shattered like glass. It can’t hold up to the deep pain of real life. At best it placates. It distracts. At its worst, it completely warps everything around us.
I think a turning point came when I was talking to my mom about the death of her own mother from early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 56. I was talking to her about the “reason” behind everything and she said something profound to me in her own pain. She said, “You know, Bek, it’s been 29 years since she died and I haven’t seen ONE good thing happen as a result. Not one. I’ve accepted that I might not know or understand in this lifetime.”
And her pain, 29 years later was still evident. That holy space of pain and doubt was not hurriedly explained away. There was no band-aid, no rallying of “I’ve found the reason,” but yet her voice was soft in acceptance and pain. That tension. I instantly recognized it.
And I realized something….I had been worshipping the pursuit of the “reason,” versus the One who gives it meaning. I allowed the interpretation of this “reason,” to shape my idea of God, versus letting God’s PRESENCE define the event…define me.
This whole time I thought I would find peace after finding out this “reason” or explanation. But instead, what I had been searching for this whole time amidst my pain had been there right in front of me. In fact, it was WITH me. Beside me, every step. I was just so blinded by my struggles and demands. It was Christ, himself. The very real, the very true, the very good and loving Christ who not only knows my pain, but enters into it with me. It was only after encountering the presence of a Holy, vast, yet personable God in the midst of that struggle, that healed my heart. Or rather, I should say, is HEALING my heart.
So yes, in all of these years of struggle, I’ve finally welcomed and feel at home in the mystery of it all. That tension. It doesn’t scare me anymore. I can appreciate the deep valleys of want and confusion, as well as the contentment and joy of the tallest peaks.
I’ve let go of the dogged quest of the “reason,” and instead worship the One who gives it a purpose. This Christ, this Holy mysterious God, who I can’t even begin to explain, yet I also intimately know, fills my heart more than any earthly “answer” could. HE is the reason I can be courageous in the face of debilitating pain. HE is the reason I can love and rejoice in the pregnancy news of others. HE is the one I can beat my arms against and HE will not shatter. HE will hold me. HE will cry with me. Even if there is a special reason that later is made known to me. Even if there isn’t one, other than just broken body and messed up biology. Maybe one day I will know for certain. Or…maybe I won’t.
Please know that I don’t shrug in apathy.
Instead, I welcome this mystery. I revel in it. Together, God and I twirl and dance in places where I was once crippled. He was always the answer. He will always continue to be that answer.
Don’t be afraid to sit in those places of tension. Ask questions. Know that you are not alone. Know that you are loved. Know that this pain isn’t all there is. oxox.