I wondered that a lot. My relationship with God fell off in 2006. I was mad at him. I really didn't think he liked me much. Three years in a row EACH year losing THREE of the closest people to me. 9 people in 48 months. I really thought I was cursed.
Spirituality was alive and well in my childhood. My great grandmother, Ma, would rub her arthritic knees enough to get out of bed and lay her hands on the tv screen. Jimmy Swaggart was her favorite tv evangelist. If he said lay your hands on the screen, she did. If he said to buy this picture of Jesus and stare at it, she did.
She was also a woman from the South, Rocky Mount, NC to be exact. She believed in a good 'ole root/root doctor (traditional healers and conjurers of the rural, black South). I remember when I told her I first started losing my hair. She said my ex-boyfriend had a curse on me and she had to call the root doctor to fix it. Ma said stuff like that all the time so I paid it no attention...until 2006.
In 2006, I sunk into a deep depression. Three years later, I was married. And six years later, in 2012, I gave birth after years of hormone treatments in an effort to conceive. Life came at me fast. I was so deeply depressed between 2006-2010 that I vaguely remember the years. A handful of key events stick out (my wedding being one of them); notwithstanding, I really don't know how I got through those years. I wasn't praying. I wasn't going to church or the Kingdom Hall regularly. I died on the inside.
The only person who truly saw the debilitation was my husband. He tried really hard to help me see God. But, in my eyes, he served a different God than me. Same denomination, different spiritual beliefs/practices. He doesn't celebrate birthdays while I think birthdays are the greatest gift in the world (who wouldn't if your mother told you daily that she should've aborted you--she must have some really deep pain to want to hurt her child like that). Anyways, our differences in beliefs ran deep.....
But, I held up my end of the bargain. I vowed that I would learn his religious beliefs, really taking it seriously, before I just tossed it to the side.
I still felt so far away from God. Death became so second nature that I became more business-like when dealing with it. I stopped crying and just went into action. How much? Where? When? Printing? Repast?--okay. I'll handle it all. Death makes me really uncomfortable and I've convinced myself that if I get too close to it, more people around me will die. Imagine having so much fear of losing someone that you shut off every feeling to brace yourself...
TJ Jakes said it's like someone poking you.
The first time, you might be caught off guard and you brace yourself to defend, arms up.
The second time, you're slightly prepared and a little quicker to defend.
The third time, well...you just stay flinched because you grow to expect the pain.
I stayed flinched. So flinched that I couldn't even let God in, let alone my husband.
Where was God?
He was all around me. I just wouldn't allow myself to believe it. The proof showed up every day. He was around me when my brother said his first words after being shot in the head. He was around me when I quit fertility and was 'spontaneously' pregnant two months later, he was with me when my mother attacked me, he was with me and all around me in so many forms like the prayers of Aunt Becky and Grandma Shelly, he was with me that one time I never talk about when Myles was a baby and rolled off of me onto the floor--I was so sleepy and I never wanted to let him go--next thing you know *BOP---whaaaaa...*, he was with me when Myles was in childcare and nothing ever happened to my baby (THANK YOU GOD), he was with me that night I learned not to put my hands on people cause that cell was cold, he was with me when May 25th, 2020 rolled around, the one year anniversary of the death of my husband's son.
God has been so ever present in my life and I finally opened my eyes to see it. I was too caught up in the 'how' and which lane I would take to get to him. When I opened my eyes with gratitude, all I saw was God's presence. For years, that was not my experience. I was blind for a long time.
When I am able to sit back and reflect on the blessing in my husband's tolerance and patience, I'm eternally grateful. Knowing the devastation I experienced in my grief journey, I was disappointed in myself for not showing my husband more compassion when his son died. I was physically present, outwardly expressive, but it felt like I should've hurt for him more. It felt like I should've felt his pain a little more. I felt guilt for not being sadder.
This year....I had no question where God was. He was by our side as our family went to plant a rose bush on the street where his son was killed. God allows reflection, correction, and redirection. I improved. I finally felt compassion for my husband. I'm not sure that I ever have.
With God's help, I'll keep getting better. Showing more compassion to men, to my son, to my uncles, to my brothers......If you better yourself and your capacity for compassion, and see your spouse in a softer light and better light because of those feelings, then your marriage will be better and stronger too.
"I used to think God wasn’t preparing me because I didn’t feel well prepared for a lot of the pain I went through. But then I realized that I just wasn’t listening well enough. If I had spent more time listening instead of allowing myself to spoil in resentment and hate, I would have found the answers I sought long time ago." ~Michelle Regina Smith
P.S. The last day of May is upon us. And in true #RandomRia fashion, time to switch subjects. See ya'll in June. Let's chat about Friendship and welcome a surprise guest blogger.