By Andrea Peters
Over the past year I have come to realize that I’m questioning lots of things around Christianity and God. This is not because I doubt that God exists but because I feel it’s hard to see the good when you feel consumed by the bad. I also have come to realize that the finishing of Caydan’s third surgery and the reality that it’s a waiting game has made these feeling more apparent. I’m no longer able to feel “in control” because now it’s all in God’s hand and for His timing. Not that it hasn’t been all along but I have felt somewhat part of the healing process.
When I met with Caydan’s kindergarten teacher the first week of school she shared that she had just finished a book called “To Heaven and Back”. She (Ms Lisa) herself is a survivor of breast cancer and has an innate sense of God and God’s timing. Now keep in mind that I had just met Ms. Lisa and she knew really nothing about our family, Caydan and our journey. Little did she know that in hindsight I felt God had sent her to me to encourage me to read this book, plus of course teach, nurture and love Caydan.
The book is about a doctor who drowns, experiences heaven and is sent back to earth to finish what God had planned for her – including the death of one of her children. I have struggled recently with what Heaven is like, what passing into heaven is like and why God chose our family. I also have been struggling with the feelings of guilt and shame for feeling this way.
Caydan is doing great – how can I possibly feel like this? God has put so many things into place – how can I not feel like He is with us each and every day and how dare I question His will?
In reading “To Heaven and Back” it became very apparent to me that God’s will was for Caydan to be given as a gift to our family and has helped me better realize my role in our family. I have always been the strong one, keeping us together, planning dr apts, surgeries, ordering medication – I want to fix and make it better – don’t get me wrong I am married to the most amazing husband, father and life partner – but I’m also the one who wants to control.
Some may laugh and say how do you feel control with a child like Caydan – but in some weird way I have felt that but now with control ripped from me I have to let go. I have to let go and focus on my healing and my ability to not feel guilty and ashamed and realize God has given us a gift. But it still leaves questions of how am I to use this gift for His will.
In this book Dr. Neal suggests that you keep a journal for a year and write down the good things that happen and the bad things that happen and what people were part of those circumstances. She then suggests you look over the year and see the “miracles” not coincidences that God has placed in your life. As a quick exercise I went back over the past 6 years – and quickly had tears in my eyes and I saw the hand of God. That is easy to say and can be somewhat stereotypical but really when you look at circumstance after circumstance – that is truly a miracle and the power of God.
As I continue this journey I know I’m not perfect but it’s reassuring to know that God still loves me – no matter what and I have to continue to work on trusting in Him. I have to learn to listen and let Him guide me. I have a very strong faith however the power of the unknown for me – especially with my children – is overwhelming.
If you have time please read this book because it’s powerful – for any parent and especially for parents of a sick child or parents who have lost a child. On her fridge she has a creed – one that I will be putting on my fridge – because what an amazing daily reminder:
I believe God’s promises are true
I believe heaven is for real
I believe nothing can separate me from God’s love
I believe God has work for me to do
I believe God will see me through and carry me when I cannot walk
I still have work to do; work on myself, work on my marriage, work on my children – and God has a purpose for me. This quote from the book has stuck with me – mostly because I think it sums up much of what I have been feeling:
“I also stopped looking to God for help. Believing that I could do it all on my own. In the process, I had let doubts; fear and guilt silently creep in and take over my thoughts”
There is freedom in letting go and realizing God has a purpose for our lives and we must use the talents He has given us for good. I look forward to the continued journey –adventure might be a better work – and revel in the freedom of letting go.