“That’s all I wanted…,” she choked out between sobs. “I always thought…”
…always thought it would be just like her mom and dad for them, “till death us do part,” grow old together, never such betrayal, such wrenching pain.
Then the stress of all the pain and confusion and bewildered crying “Why?” gave way, from sheer exhaustion, to broken, mixed-up grief-laughter. And we grief-laughed and friend-prayed together a near incoherent prayer for help amid “we-don’t-know”s…
A giant pilgrim step from where we were an hour or so before, us sequestered upstairs—right beside my prayer window, in fact, but we weren’t sitting there praying, we were wrestling off a violent attack of utter unbelief.
I’d mentioned God, something about God, and she had answered in dead tone, “I don’t know if I even believe in God.”
I gasped. These words from her mouth! It stunned me, knocked me into silence, where no answers hid, no clever theology or gospel re-presentation or trite truism. I was just there, I had to leave it where it was right then, that instant agnosticism, born of her own shock, disbelief at the death blow to what she’d believed a lifelong certainty. This couldn’t be happening, so what was reality?
Somehow in the talking out, the dumping down on the bedroom floor, all the bruising, breath-stealing pounding of the necessary echoing the thing had to do in her head, her heart, before actuality could push its way through… Somehow, slowly, half-inch by half-inch, she dragged one thought up to the next, and God wedged Himself into the chaos, and so, by the time we were back downstairs and out to that porch bench, her heart was praying along with my inarticulation…
And she survived—that cruel day and a lot of other cruel days and weeks and months to follow. But more than survived.
Fast forward years. We were driving home from hearing Joni Erickson Tada speak—speak from the wheelchair she spends her life in, since that diving accident drove her down, down, from her ho-hum Christianity to the pit of such despair she’d begged her best friend to smother out her life… then up, slowly up, to the glow of joy in Christ that shown out now around her from the epicenter of her smile, all over that audience.
We’d visited that place not long before, and heard Jill Kelly speak: of her own world getting brutally “wrecked,” how it drove her to the Jesus she’d have nothing to do with before… And we’d seen another smile then that kept glowing unrepressed like sunlight, despite the ongoing tragedy…
And I asked my friend, When in your life did your faith grow most?
And I think you can guess. Same kind of time as when mine grew, when my world crashed.
God lets life break us. Then picks up the pieces. And puts them back together, but now in a stained-glass window, that His light shines beautiful grace through. He knows what will grow faith.