Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Sovereignty of God and My Unforgiveness

{Here goes...pushing the "publish" button with hesitation...}

Heavy title.

Heaviness on my heart.

It's weird to look back over the year and see the fluctuations in my thoughts and processing of this whole grief journey.  Sometimes I read through old blog posts and roll my eyes, for I can't relate to that place I was once in.  Blogging used to be cathartic to me...that has obviously faded in the last few months.  Now I almost avoid my blog for it makes me face the pain and I still am just not ready for that.  This blog makes me face my emotions and thoughts....but sitting in front of the tv and crocheting allows me to drown in distraction instead.  For now, the latter is what I pathetically prefer.

This is such a roller coaster of emotions that I am on.  I change my mind all the time on how I feel.  It feels different already, as we enter into the second year without her.  Mark stated it very well the other week when he said that "the first year was very new - every day of the first year was the very first time of living that date without our daughter...and now that we're into the second year and on repeat, the reality just sinks in deeper and the realization is that this all just sucks."  I've lived October 14th already once without her and now I have nothing new to expect...and yes, it just sucks.

Right now, I find myself in a phase of deeper thinking and questioning.  Anger has been my steady and unfriendly companion since the very beginning and it still is.  It's quite a deceptive "friend", this Anger is.  It seems to act as my driving force - the thing that keeps me plowing ahead, it keeps me distracted from sadness and it serves to keep me numb from the pain.  But, it is corrosive and poisonous, this Anger is.  It plants seeds of destructive anxiety that grow in my gut and continue to make me physically sick.  It makes me unpleasant to be with at times and causes me to have little tolerance of anything outside of my "controlled little world".  It drives me to cynicism and bitterness.  Oh, this ugly friend called Anger is really not my friend at all.

I know all of this.  Oh how I know.  I am so ridiculously aware of myself...aren't I?  Yes.  I am hard on myself about this...but then again I have to remind myself over and over again that I am still so new to all of this.  Yes it's been a year and that may seem long to those who do not understand grief...but in reality Mark and I are still "babies" in this dreaded journey.  We are still learning what it's all about.  It has certainly been a year full of self-discovery.....of a whole new self.  I am not the same Jenny I was before September 6, 2012...and I never will be.  I am wounded forever.  And, right now, in the early stages of my wounds, I am still acting similarly to a wounded animal.....overly sensitive and prone to anger and defensiveness and protectiveness, full of tense anxiety.  This discovery phase of my new "self" is enlightening and disappointing at the same time.  I will enter a situation that I have not faced since before Vienne died, and I will expect myself to act as I once did only to quickly learn that I am no longer capable.  For example - hosting.  I normally love to host.  I have not really hosted much of anything in the past year, of course.  Now that we have moved and it is a year later, I am feeling ready to start hosting again.  So, I have invited my small group of ladies from church to spend our gatherings at my home.  I expected myself to be able to have everything ready, Ivy in bed, the house smelling of apply cider yumminess on the stove, candles lit, fire know, the idyllic cozy fall evening setting (what I am so good at normally providing).  But the time came and I was a frazzled mess, everything was rushed and done last minute, and I wanted to literally scream an inappropriate expletive and run into my room and hide for the evening.  Whoah.


Oh, yeah the title of this post.  I should get to that, shouldn't I?

The sovereignty of God.  Sovereignty is defined as "supreme power or authority".  I have always full-heartedly believed that God is a completely sovereign God, having supreme power and authority on this earth that He created.  I have believed that God made us with the ability to make choices, though as well, and I understand that along with the enemy's influence, that is why our world is so fallen.  I also had always wholeheartedly believed that God is purely good and loving and wants only the best for us, His children.

I waiver in what I believe now.

**And let me clarify, again, that these are just my processings from my muddled emotional head.  I am not here to debate God and what everyone else believes.  I am not reliable in my stance.  I am just in a process of cynical questioning.  Some things I will share will not rest well with other believers - I know because I have been one forever.  My intention is not to offend...I am just pouring out my thoughts and processing.  And, these are things I will take to counseling and to my pastor for their wise and educated input.

Ok, this is why I waiver in what I believe ~
I do not (I repeat) I do not believe that God caused Vienne's heart to stop and for her to die instantly, suddenly, without warning.  No, I do not believe He killed her.  BUT, I do believe that He allowed it.  That is where His sovereignty lies.  I believe He can allow or disallow things.  And, this is where I start to question His 100% pure goodness and intent for us.  In Jerry Sittser's book, A Grace Disguised, he writes that many people who have gone through a tragic loss like mine typically develop one of three positions in their beliefs - 1)  Atheistic - there really is no God.  2)  God is good yet not in as much control as we once assumed...therefore, He is a weaker God.  3)  God is powerful but can be cruel.  Right now, I currently struggle between #2 and #3.  I want to believe that He is all-powerful AND purely good...but the facts surrounding my experience seem to belie that.  What I see now is a God who heard our desperate and faithful, believing, begging prayers that morning, and He said "No".  He chose to allow Vienne's heart to randomly, unexpectedly and suddenly stop and then when there were chances for her revival, He said "No".  Is that good, in your book??  Well, it is not in my mine.

And, so now if you are a believer your mind might be quickly and desperately trying to come up with contradictions to this, explanations for this, and comforts that you think might soothe my cynical mind.  You might want to say things like "Well, God has an ultimate plan"...or ..."God always works things out for the good"....or ..."God is going to do something amazing with you, through this" ...or ..."Sometimes, we don't understand His ways but we need to trust His will" ...or ..."We live in a fallen world where sin causes such tragedies, even illness" ...etc.  But, what I've come to see through all of this, as I feel that a veil has been ripped from my many years of ignorance, is that really the "good" that we want so desperately to accredit to God is ultimately only meant for Himself.  What do I mean?  To put it bluntly, right now I struggle with realizing that the God I have served is really a self-serving God (gasp.  yes, I just said that).  That sounds so sacrilegious, I know.  But, let me explain in simple matter-of-fact terms -  Everything that He creates, everything that He allows, every prayer that He answers "yes" or "no" to, is all intended for His ultimate glory.  He wants us to love Him and glorify Him.  He wants everything that we are about to be for His glory.  He wants us to serve Him and share His Word, and teach others to serve Him.  That is all truth, as understood by most believers.  See, that is not sacrilegious at all....I just put it in ugly terms that made you cringe.  But, it is all truth.  And, now that I see it from a different perspective, I am currently uncomfortable with it and I have to work through this and find a way to reconcile how I want to live my life.  And, I'm not trying to say that I want any glory or that I want to serve  That is NOT me AT ALL.  I'm just trying to understand the Biblical verses that promise that God wants what's best for us, that He loves us so much etc...When now, I understand that He really just wants what's best for Him.  But, I still believe in Him.  I still believe that He created me and that there are only two paths to choose from - Heaven-bound or Hell-bound.  And, I am determined to be Heaven-bound, for that is the only way for me to be able to see my precious Girl again.  But, the way I end up walking my path might look a little different from the "norm".

I feel that we "Christians" are so easily blinded...or that we choose to be.  We want to give God all the credit for the good that happens in our world.  But, when bad things happen (which they do all the time), we neglect to acknowledge that God chooses to allow it.  I know that sin is the cause for the fallen nature of our world...but God chose to allow that sin in.  And, that could lead to an entirely different discussion on Adam and Eve and the fall of man - but I don't want to go that far just yet.  Also, the commonly-held perspective that 'the original sin is what first caused the stepping stones in  creating illness in our world' - which therefore caused Vienne to die - does not sit well with me.  In essence, that explanation is saying that sin caused the most unheard-of heart problem to randomly kill my daughter.  Why would a good and loving God allow that?  We have a tendency to make up so so many excuses for God because He is supposed to be good and want only good for us (even if it's a different "good" than we expect)....but, really we do not fully know.  When I really start to think further on it, I remember how God was in the Old Testament.  It wasn't necessarily pretty.  He not only allowed, but actually caused much tragedy in those early days.   And, we are taught from the Bible that God never changes - "He is the same yesterday today and forever" (Heb. 13:8).  If He is the same, then He is the same "harsh" God from the Old Testament.  Yes, Christ coming to this earth and "dying for our sins" did allow for a change in our "consequences to sin" but it did not change who God was.  And, so I am reminded that He is a bit cruel.  I don't believe Jesus is cruel....but I believe the part of Him that is God is.  Phew....did that make any sense??  But, we want to believe that God is good and so we blindly trust that He is.  This is what I am fiercely wrestling with.  I will never come to a time in my life and finally look back and say "oh, yes, now I see and understand why Vienne had to die."  No.  This will never be ok with me.  Her death may glorify God...but it will do nothing good for me (not that I'm trying to be selfish here).  I am so damaged now.  Trusting Him just seems almost....foolish to me right now.

And, this is why I obviously wrestle with forgiving Him.  I find it easier to forgive man than it is to forgive God.  Man is fallible, God is not.  It is easier to forgive man when we ultimately know that we are all capable of sin and mistakes.  But, God is not.  That makes it harder to forgive Him.  The thing is, is that I want to be able to.  I really do for I know what unforgiveness does to a heart - it is poisonous.  I do not want to grow to become a bitter and calloused lady.  I heavily fear this.  I do not want to be unpleasant and miserable to be around.  I am already full of fear that my current bitterness is starting to seep out and that those around me are starting to sense it.  I try so hard to cover it up...but at the same time, I am so blasted honest when asked.

**In summary - I want to clarify that I have NOT turned my back on God.  No, not at all.  I do not want to.  I am confused and I am wrestling.  I wish I was back to the "naive" mindset I used to have.  But now that I see things differently, I want to know more and I want to understand.  I want this to work out and I want to have a relationship with Him again...but I just don't know how to reconcile all of my questions yet.  I am in a phase right now.  Heavy stuff on my plate these days, for sure.  I guess this is the darkness that I talked about in an earlier post - the inevitable darkness that I am supposed to face.  I didn't expect it to look like this....dark yet with a new perspective.  I don't know how to process this.

I do not feel pursued by God.  I feel lonely.  I feel that He is against me.  I am not so much bitter as I am hurt.  I feel hurt by God.  I just wish that He would speak out clearly to me.

**ADDENDUM ~  I want to also clarify and add that I am not trying to say that God is not good and therefore bad.  I do not believe that God is bad.  I need that to be clear.  I guess I am realizing that I do not fully understand what "good" is....and who that "good" is necessarily for.  Allowing children to die is not good - we can all agree to that.  So, maybe our idea of what "good" means is not the same as God's.  Does that make sense?  And, now with what I have been through, I have to decide if I am ok with that.  That is my wrestling.  OH my thoughts keep going on this subject.....more later, I am sure....

This is where I'm at.  Take it or leave it.

(the days when my arms could wrap around a sweet 4 yr-old baby girl...days when I so naively believed that that was the life I was meant to have.)


  1. Wow! We have never met but I stumbled across your blog several months ago and have been following since. I have never commented before but I felt compelled after reading this post. I have a six year old daughter and I know without a doubt that I would be totally be questioning God and his goodness if anything ever happened to her. I think how you are feeling is totally normal and acceptable considering your staggering loss. Your Vienne is absolutely gorgeous and I feel through reading your blog that I know your sweet baby girl. The picture with the party hats brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful picture of the pure joy you have in each other. From one mommy to another my heart is aching for you.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I also appreciate hearing from new people.

      Thank you for your sweet and caring words. This means so much.

    2. **not "also" - I meant to write: I SO appreciate hearing from new people. ;)

  2. Heavy stuff, you definitely gave me a big lump in my throat. For what it's worth, I can't argue with anything you have said, most of it makes sense to me. I was having a spiritual discussion with someone of a different religion recently and asked what their group thought of "Christians" and he said he thought we were "lazy". Lazy in the sense that we believe and celebrate God's goodness so enthusiastically when everything is going our way and life is great. But that the reality of God is a much darker, deeper, and complicated story. And I think you are brave to talk about it honestly. I am sorry you feel so damaged and bitter. Not sure how anyone goes on from something so wounding and totally devastating. And anyone who says that good will come out of this would never in a million years wish to trade places with you and accept these personal circumstances so that's just crazy talk. Love ya - Lisa

    1. I love you friend. Thank you for not judging me but continuing to stand beside me as I wade through these thick dark waters.

  3. I met your mom & dad at Grief Share when I was there with my daughter. I'm so sorry you're precious daughter isn't here with you. She's beautiful. As a Christian, let me say that I have had similar conversations with my daughter about the loss of her son. We talk about it all the time & many of those same questions come up. I don't believe we will ever know or understand "why". I have lots of questions for God when I meet Him one day. & yes some days I'm mad at Him & question if He really does know what is best & some days I even wonder if he is a bit cruel. Until death hit our family, things I never thought too deep about. Things I never questioned. But...until I can ask Him those questions, as I miss my only Grandson everyday & my daughters heart is shattered & damaged beyond full repair, the thought that goes through my mind is this: I know how much my Earthly father loves me & I know he only wants the best for me, I also know that my husband only wants the best for my children, & he is loving & kind & will do anything that will help them for Forever, not just in this life. all the hours teaching, all the time spent praying & crying & disciplining, doing hard things so they can learn what they need to learn to return home to Heavenly Father. When I think like this, it is harder to imagine a Father in Heaven who is cruel. A perfect Father would truly only do what would help His child succeed. Forever. I believe He is Love. I've heard someone say, this life is only the 2nd act of a 3 act play. it's not over. yet. I believe you are brave. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts. Thank you for questioning, because it helps others to dig deeper. I pray for your sweet family. I pray for your heart. I pray that it can heal a little more each day. Never to fully heal until the day you hold Vienne in your arms. But what a day! until then, Keep holding on to hope.

    1. Sheri, thank you so much for your encouragement and understanding. It means so much.

      I love your daughter. But I am so sad that our tragedies are what brought us together.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and share so much with me. I receive your encouragement.

  4. Jenny, So that was deep, Thanks!
    I actually think a lot of similar things. What my mind has come to accept lately is, that Ollie can do more good in heaven and bless way more lives than him here on this earth. Yes, its a sacrifice for him as well as for each one of his family members, but he accepted. I don't believe God made Ollie tragically fall into my washing machine, but I do believe it was Ollie's time to return to heaven March 23rd for whatever reason. And if he didnt die this way he might have die another way, way too many signs the previous weeks and the day before for it to just be an accident. I don't feel any of this happened to glorify God, but I do think it happened to glorify me, Ollie and all those who Ollie has touched. I also think when we turn to God and know that he is a sovereign God, then we are in turned humbled, its only for us, not for him-why would he need this glory or this attention?

    Anyway just my crazy thoughts...they change weekly. I guess it will be a life long journey of seeking, wondering and learning....until the day we hold our child again.
    Love you my friend. and I think of your aching heart often.I pray for you, even though so often I feel as if my prayers are not granted or heard.

    1. "why would He need this glory or this attention?"

      hm. You have given me something to think about, Tiffany. Thank you. I appreciate your insight, as one who is going through the same horror as me. I do not easily accept other people's insight or input, but I appreciated this. I hadn't thought of it that way...I will think upon it more. Deep down, I realize I am wanting to hear things like this...but I am selective about who I am willing to receive it from.

      Thank you friend. I love you too.

  5. I've been thinking and thinking about this post...and then I read the reply above - about God not needing all this glory or attention...even more to think about.

    Sometimes, when I read your posts about being angry, I think that anger is the only right response. What else could passionate love turn into when it has been violated the way yours has? But then, I know that those who love you don't want to see that anger become corrosive and destructive, and I know you don't want that either.

    It's hardest, I think, to see that you are not feeling pursued by God. I just don't understand that. I think a loving father should be wrapping his arms around his hurting daughter.

    I don't know. I don't have answers...but your blog holds my faith accountable to just remaining in a place where I don't know. A place where, for now, I can't know and absolutely can't offer the kinds of shallow responses that just seem nonsensical in the face of what your family is going through. I guess that, in the absence of answers there is just prayer, which is a kind of faith, I think.

    Praying for you.

    Mary Alice

    1. Mary Alice ~ Your comment means a lot.

      I have been so nervous ever since I posted this. But, I needed to. I realize that when I finally unload my thoughts onto my blog journal, it is some sort of a release...a release that allows me to start fully processing it. My thoughts in this post scare me...but I have to face them before I work through them. This is me facing them....putting them out there.

      Anyway, I thank you for your thoughts and support and prayers...and for not judging me!

  6. Jenny,
    Although you do not know me, my heart and my mind have been with you after I read your post. You have been in my prayers. Loss is such a personal journey, with twists and turns that are tragic in themselves. Our values and beliefs are also so personal. I applaud your bravery for expressing both these things in your life. I read a blog post a couple of weeks ago that touched me deeply, and made me think of the many people who have lost their sweet children and how our Father in Heaven connects them to allow a degree of comfort and peace back into their lives. I wanted to share it with you, it is found at the following web address, I know there are few words a stranger can say that can make a difference, but please know there are whispers of love and support for you as you continue through your personal journey. With love.......

    1. Heidi, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I always love hearing from readers that I haven't heard from yet. It means so much.
      Thank you also for sharing the blog with me. Such a tragic story. such a beautiful little girl, as well.

      I appreciate you stopping by and supporting me through this wretched journey. More than you know….

  7. I stumbled upon your blog awhile ago and felt so very very hurt for you. I have always been a believer in God but over the last few years of my life,(I am 55 years old) and have gone to way too many funerals for classmates of my children and family members whose young children died of cancer, I really do not understand what good comes out of this especially for the parents left behind. Then we visit my husband's 105 year old grandmother, all 5 of her children still alive and I question God why??? I really don't know what I ever did to be spared such pain. I got out of the medical field because of all the sadness I was witnessing, and I know that is not a good reason, but I found myself as a nurse just so attached to the parents that I couldn't let go of it at home. I remember as a mother begging God to please never test my faith with my children. I follow a blog of a women named Anna Gray. She lost her 12 yr old son in a accidental drowning on a stormy night when she told him he could play outside with his sister and friends. She of course blames herself as I would of done too. Her site is called A Inch of Gray. And she quoted a post from a book called Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel. It said, "Some sadness has no remedy, some sadness you can't make better". I hope the memories of your beautiful little girl hold some comfort and know that a stranger in Tallahassee, Florida says a silent prayer of comfort for your broken heart. I will hug my adult children and 4 grandchildren tighter. Nadine Ochs

    1. Nadine ~

      Thank you for sharing your heart and a bit about yourself. I love learning about who is reading this blog and supporting me. YOur heart towards me is so encouraging and means so much.

      So very interesting that you shared Anna Gray's blog with me. Hers was actually the very first blog written by a grieving mother that I read after losing Vienne. Her story is very tragic. I will look into the Goodbye for Now book that you mentioned.
      Thank you for being a far-away-friend. I need all that I can get.