I’m just not sure where I stand right now when it comes to God and religion and my losses. If I stand anywhere or if it’s just time to close a chapter on what I have been taught to believe. It’s really going through my head right now, so I’m just going to put some of it out here.
I grew up in a very religious household. We went to church morning and night on Sundays and once on Wed night, not to mention the Sunday School, Vacation Bible School every summer, and Church on every non-major holiday (yes, really- I mean, how many people go to church on New Years Eve and New Years Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc. when it’s not a Sunday?!).
We prayed before and after every meal, read devotions before dinner and at bedtime- it was a huge part of my upbringing. I would hear stories of people being ‘born again’ and having a relationship with God, but I just wasn’t sure how that was supposed to feel, so I tried my best. I believed all the major Dogmas of Christianity, I didn’t know what else to believe. It was drilled into me left and right what I was ‘supposed to believe’ or ‘supposed to do’ as the correct Christian response to God.
When I lost my 59 year old mother to cancer on the day before Mother’s Day, I didn’t curse God or get angry at him. It didn’t shake my faith- I thought I was supposed to pray for comfort and God would ultimately provide that and help me feel better. I know my Mother believed very deeply in God and even during her battle with cancer (albeit short, it was less than a year between her diagnosis and death), her faith never waned. I used to think that she was up in heaven singing in a choir (she used to direct the church choir), and that was about the only thing that helped.
When I lost my first baby, I tried to imagine my mother up in heaven holding my baby. I had brief moments of worry that I hadn’t been praying enough for a healthy pregnancy. That God wanted to give me this trial to confirm that I was ready to be a Mom. Overall, I didn’t feel like it was a horrible thing that God should have kept me from, I just figured this was part of life to get through and then things would turn out differently next time.
When I lost my second baby, I tried to imagine my mother holding that one, too. I started to question what God was trying to tell me by having me lose two babies. In theory, he would make me a mother if he wanted to, because he’s all-powerful, right? My husband and I had a good relationship, good jobs, a home to raise a child in. I tried to believe my doctor that this was just ‘bad luck’, but I really started to feel like I was being punished by God. I earnestly searched for what ‘sins’ I had committed to deserve this. I prayed harder than ever that my next baby would live or if it wasn’t meant to be, that I wouldn’t get pregnant again.
Despite all that, I lost my third baby, and hit the ground. Hard. I really started to get angry and challenge those Christian platitudes that had been thrown at me. Did I really think this would keep happening because I wasn’t praying enough? I know that I and several other people were praying for my 3rd pregnancy non-stop. I didn’t have my ‘comforting’ vision anymore– My mom didn’t have enough arms to hold all my babies in heaven. And she didn’t need my babies in heaven, I needed my babies here on Earth. I’d be a good mother- why did God keep taking these babies from me? I started to really look at all the other women in horrible situations who can get pregnant easily or parents that abuse their children who keep procreating, and it just pissed me off beyond all reason.
My 3rd miscarriage was also the point where I shared my loss with a few people and I started getting back the responses about it being ‘God’s Plan’ and that when he wanted me to have a baby that I would get one. And I was told that I needed to be more faithful that God would do as he had promised. Oh, and that God was supposedly hurting with me and crying with me… but how does that make sense when he’s the one who caused it (or allowed it to happen– is there a difference when you are looking at an all-powerful being?)? God is supposedly in control of everything, right, he knows the ‘plans he has for us, plans to prosper us and not harm us’? He has predetermined that each of my babies would live for x days in utero then he would end their far-too-short lives, and he would do that time after time (after time again)?
Then I had my Sweetie. She was beautiful and perfect and I loved her from the moment I saw her. The first thing people say is ‘what a blessing she is’, ‘a gift from God’, ‘it’s by God’s grace that she’s here’ and I’m supposed to give all the thanks to God. Um, wait- God is supposed to get all the credit that my 4th pregnancy finally ‘worked’ and he’s not supposed to be the cause or get any of the blame that the first three pregnancies failed? Did I not deserve the gift of the last three pregnancies, when he went to the trouble of getting me pregnant only to destroy/take back my gift? How does that work? Seems awfully hypocritical if you ask me.
Then there were miscarriages #4 and #5. More dead babies and I’m told to pray harder. There is no comfort in praying, I’ve been doing that like crazy. Christians place so much value on ‘talking to God’ in prayer, but no one wants to admit that it’s a very one-sided conversation and there’s no tangible proof that it ever works. I guess that doesn’t suit their goals. You just start to feel like God was either punishing me or my husband and now he’s punishing my daughter by killing her siblings. You want to talk about an unjust God? I’m there.
And then miscarriage #6 on Mother’s Day. There is no logic or plan that explains losing a perfect/normal baby at 16 weeks after 5 other losses and on Mother’s Day. Where is God in that? Seriously, if any person or being or the universe was the one that planned this, it could not have been more cruel. How do you begin to reconcile this cruelty with a loving God? Oh yeah, he’s supposed to comfort me. He causes or allows things to happen so he can swoop in and ‘comfort’ people? Sounds more to me like that ‘hero syndrome’ where people cause horrible situations (ie arson) and then ‘rescue’ people so they can get attention and praise. I know, I know- we live in a sinful world and God wants to give us ‘free will’, so that’s supposed to explain everything according to most Christians. Whatever.
So I’m obviously very confused on where I stand right now. I have a very tough time with all the hypocrisy of Christianity and that alone causes me to think that it would be easier to just not believe in a God/god. But it was so engrained in me from childhood I’m having a tough time reframing my thinking. I am personally not gaining anything positive from Christianity/church/God, and it in fact seems to make things worse right now to try to believe that there is a ‘loving’ God out there (and to hear it from well-meaning friends and relatives). (I know, I know, God didn’t promise wonderful lives free from trials and heck, look at Job. Yeah, well, I’m not getting a Bible chapter named after me and I’m not Job)
After what I’ve been through, being continually bombarded with these messages that a wonderful God who I’m supposed to sing praises to would kill 6 babies as part of his plan just doesn’t sit well. I don’t recall reading in the Bible that it took 6 tries before Mary conceived and carried Jesus- so God obviously controls life and conception when it suits his purpose. I don’t see how God’s all-knowing plan is that a woman on welfare can continue to pop out children that she cannot afford, or parents that are neglectful or abusive can continue to have children. (I know I’m not alone in these thoughts- I think every infertile women feels this at some time!) If that’s His plan, then it doesn’t seem to show much foresight, it’s a piss-poor plan. I find it much easier to say there is no plan- there is no God- shit is happening every day and it’s just because shit happens. Trying to layer a bunch of Christian platitudes about God’s plan or God’s love or faithful prayer over a layer of shit just seems to make it stink all the more.
I keep coming back to this paradox that is frequently attributed to Epicurus (which may or may not be from him):
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
The Christian answer is that we won’t ever understand this with our flawed, Human brains- only God knows the answers. Um, I guess that’s the perfect answer if your goal is to really not answer any questions.
So is it easier to believe in a God, one the has killed 6 babies when he supposedly loves life and his children, one that supposedly answers prayers, one that supposedly wants good things for us, one that has a ‘plan’ for all of this? No, I really think that I’d feel much better if I believed this was random. That no one is deciding that great parents remain infertile while a million women get pregnant only to abort because they didn’t want to be pregnant. That when I pray I’m talking to no one and it’s only a practice that exists to make some people feel better, I’m just not one of them.
So I will keep learning and reading. I don’t know where I stand yet, and it’s not really critical that I figure it out today or tomorrow. I know that not all my arguments make sense right now, I haven’t thought it all out. Christians probably think I sound like an un-Christian petulant child crying ‘no fair’ and atheists probably think I sound like I have no idea what I’m talking about 🙂 It’s ok, just be kind. My head is really messed up still. 🙂
(And, if you are still reading here, you win a prize. I recognize now that this is WAY too long for a blog post, but I’m going to publish it anyway. Cause I’m still a novice blogger :))