I could not feel God in the slightest. What I did feel was an enormously lonely void from where He used to be. The very idea of God not being here and not being who I always knew Him to be was an emptiness so vast in and of itself, it was hard to comprehend. It wasn’t on purpose. I was not willingly turning from God. I just could not find him. And yes, I blamed him. I was reeling. Truly, like at any moment I would fly off into space. Like in the movies when the astronaut is trying to save the space ship from disaster by performing a harrowing repair on the outside of the ship. There is only one thing anchoring him to safety- the umbilical cord, which of course breaks, and off he flies. Twirling into space in the gravity-free atmosphere, getting smaller and smaller as he floats away, and all the others can do is watch, helpless, through the window as he disappears. That is how I felt. I didn’t know what an anchor to this life my relationship with God was, until it was gone. I could physically feel the spinning of being mentally, emotionally and physically untethered. The loss, the pain, the fear, the confusion- it was going to kill me. I needed to surrender.
In my experience with surrender during grief, I had to rely on my past experience, not what I was feeling at the moment, because I felt nothing good towards God. All I felt was unimaginable pain, paralyzing fear and heart break. I could not “feel” God in in any way. At all. People would say “Hold onto God, you have to hold onto Him.” But I did I have any sense of him whatsoever. How do you “hold on” to something that isn’t there for you? I hated when people said that because it made my distance from God even more evident, it was not intentional and it didn’t help me feel better in the least! If holding onto God was the only thing that was going to help me, I was in big trouble.
The devastation and shock was so consuming there was room for little else, including the presence of God. In fact, not only did I feel 100% devoid of any presence, I felt abandoned by Him as well-and “duped”. I actually used those words. A lifetime of serving Him, trusting Him, dedicating my children to Him and this happens? Duped. So I did not have within me the resources to find, hold onto or trust God. Other than reading a few rescue verses and a small devotional everyday, I could not “knock” for the door to be open. I didn’t have the strength to even lift my arm to knock. All I could do was try to survive to the next minute, hold my family together and know our friends and family were the ones with the faith and they were on it. Bless them.
I suppose I am in good company though. Christ felt an agonizing separation from God during the time he was being crucified. (Incidentally, In that separation He, like me, asked God “Why?”, which I’m sure we all can completely relate to.) That separation from the Father was so devastating to Jesus in his human-ness just as it is to any Christian who has known His presence, and then suddenly doesn’t. With the loss of my child and the witness of this horror on my husband and 2 other children, I could not stand this separation as well. The separation anxiety from my child was unimaginable, but also from my God? It had to stop. Something had to give.
My first moment of surrender came at about 2-3 weeks post. Everything was horribly fresh and raw. We were a gaping, bleeding mess of a family. Practically helpless. Practically. I was consumed with the safety of my other children, of how my husband was coping, with the physical pain that I had never in my life experienced, the sleep deprivation, the inability to eat. My body trembled 24 hours a day. I was walking or running miles a day to relieve the inner pain- to get out and have sensory input other than the 4 walls we were in. No relief came. There was a point where I could not fight it for one more second. I collapsed on the bed and said into the empty space that used to be occupied by my God, “I can’t do this! Im going to die if I have one more day like this. Please take something. Please help me!” Thankfully surrender does not require physical strength. In my case it required the complete opposite.
A burden lifted. Did it relieve the suffering? No and I do realize that would be unrealistic. However, it brought the tiniest bit of peace. Some small thing washed off me that day that allowed a bit of peace to filter in. I would love to say it was the “peace that surpasses all understanding”, but it was not. I am still praying for that. It was a baby peace, the kind that gives you just enough to go on. Just enough to make you want to water it and cultivate it and grow more of it. That act then brought hope. You don’t plant or cultivate something without the hope or expectation of a harvest right?. That teeny bit of peace, from that tiny bit of surrender was the start. It took something off of me and placed it at Gods feet. It takes trust to just ask Him to take it. And also,
I acknowledged He was.
The act of surrender says, “I know you are there even though I can’t feel you. I know you love me even though I don’t understand how you could’ve allowed this to happen to me. I know I am incapable of getting through this without you. I’m giving you this and trusting you’ll see me through it.”
Surrendering brings peace
which cultivates hope,
that grows trust.
I promise you, there will be a turning point in your journey if and when you can surrender a day, a moment or the whole awful thing over to God. Start with surrendering a moment if that’s all you can do. See where it goes.
Please share your experience with surrender so others can be encouraged. All posts are “held” for approval.