Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Ever-Elusive "Why?"

(A version of this was published on The Mighty on July 18, 2016.)

It's inevitable.

You are trekking through life, minding your own business, and then, BAM!!! Life sucker punches you in the gut when you aren't looking and then runs you over like a freight train while you are laid out across the tracks.

If it hasn't happened to you yet, then lucky you.

But don't get too cozy in that comfortable life you are leading. Eventually, the proverbial crap is gonna hit the fan.

And when that train derails, trailing steadily behind is a little red caboose with that smokestack of a question: "But why?" The answer may as well be swirling away in the atmosphere in a puff cloud of dirty black smoke.

Almost from our infancy, we are designed to want answers.

I have four voraciously inquisitive kids under 10 years old, and they are constantly throwing questions at me like I'm a dartboard. These days, if you don't know the answer, it's so easy to just say, "Let's Google it." But what if the question you are grappling with has no hard and fast answer? What if, when you ask it, you can hear your voice echoing back at you from the four corners of the universe?

Nine years ago, when my perfectly healthy infant son died in the delivery room, that question was seared onto my brain with a branding iron. The question with no answer. The harder I tried to reach and grasp it, the further away it seemed. 

So far, this is what I've been able to come up with...

#1: My husband and I didn't do anything to deserve losing our child.

#2: God was not punishing us for some offense we have committed.

#3: Other people are not more deserving of a child than we are.

#4: And no, we were not cruel to animals in a previous life and deserving of bad karma, nor do we subscribe to that philosophy.

Here's what I do know:

I may never fully understand why I had to lose my child when others didn't. I am especially confounded when I hear of mothers who flippantly abort their unwanted babies. Or neglect them. Or abuse them. Because MY baby was wanted. MY baby was an answer to prayer.

But here's the thing:

Why is not the most pressing question. When you are being crushed by the weight of your own grief, why will not save you. 

What WILL save you is how.

How now shall I live? Now that the world as I know it has been obliterated. How now shall I pick up the pieces of my shattered heart and make it through another week? Another day? Another hour? Another minute?

At some point, you have to make a decision.

Am I going to waste away in the excrement of my pain or am I going to uproot the dry, dusty fields of my heart and plow through the hardened, cracked dirt? Is this going to become a toxin running through my veins or am I going to use this stench to fertilize new soil where good things can grow?

I don't know about you, but I want to plant rows and rows and rows of green fields upon green fields as far as the eye can see. I want to see hope spring eternal. I want to reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed.

Because even with all that I have been through, I STILL believe that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." And, no matter what, I STILL believe that my God is a good, good Father. 

Without question.


  1. Beautifully expressed. A treasure of wisdom to hold in my own heart when pressed in on by the weighty "Why?" Thank you :-)

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, Olivia. May God continue to lead you and guide you on your journey of healing. XO