Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Belief, Anger, and Luck

I keep telling Guy that if I come out "religious" on the other side of this, that will be a major accomplishment. I recently said the same thing to another religious father on the oncology ward. His daughter has been hospitalized for four and a half months. They have one other daughter, and she is currently living with her grandparents.

"I feel the same way," he said. We talked about our anger. He mentioned that a friend of his told him, "If you're angry, then you do believe, because you believe there's someone to be angry at." We agreed that there's something to that, but we also agreed that we're having a lot of trouble reconciling belief in God with what is happening to our children.

I also understand that there's something very childish about saying, "I believe in God, but only if he does what I want." Like, if my kid gets better, that's cool, and then I can go on believing. But if -- the unspeakable if -- then, I'm pretty sure my belief will shrivel up inside me, a rotted, ugly thing I will shove down and never take out to look at. And I recognize that I'm basically the equivalent of a teenager who says she will only love her parents if they buy her the latest iPhone, but I DON'T CARE. Because my kid has been through enough. *I* have been through enough.

But that's the other thing. Luck doesn't seem to care. We think, because of the way our brains our wired to look for patterns where there are none, that running into bad luck in one area will somehow protect us from other bad luck. You don't think, for example, that your mother will be diagnosed with breast cancer a week and a half after your kid is diagnosed with leukemia. When one of your kids has special needs, there's a part of you that thinks your other kids are somehow protected -- nothing bad can happen to them, right? But that's WRONG. Just because your kid is already in the hospital with leukemia doesn't mean he won't go into septic shock and almost die. Just because he pulls through that doesn't mean some new, fresh hell isn't waiting around the corner, waiting for that one instant when you let your guard down for an instant.

I have always been jealous of my husband's faith, because it is so natural for him. He doesn't have to think about it. He just believes. He just lives. I've written about this before, but I'm still jealous. I can't find that kind of grace, that kind of peace. I just can't.


Crystal T. said...

I have felt similarly - jealous of the faith others have. I wish I had something to believe in that would give me some comfort.

Mara said...

You already know this, but (a) I understand what you're saying, (b) I often feel the same way - induced by far fewer stressors than the ones you're presently juggling and (c) I -- and no one else -- will judge you. No matter where you "fall out" today, tomorrow or next year.

Also, I totally agree with your right-on observation that bad luck doesn't inoculate you from further bad luck. And that totally sucks.