Finding Grace Through the Unthinkable

This last month I've found myself reading through the book of Ecclesiastes and grieving books. Our good friend’s son passed away unexpectedly just a few days after Thanksgiving. We were heartbroken and still are. My husband and I would find ourselves just randomly crying through the days that followed his death because of the shock and deep despair we were experiencing. This little boy wasn't even 3 years old and he was one of my daughter’s dearest little friends. Everything suddenly felt very unfair. I started questioning God more than I ever had before: "What good comes front this?" "How do you work through something of this magnitude?" "How is there supposed to be joy in the midst of this type of pain?" "How do they, our community, our family, move forward from this?" So many days I would talk to God out of pure anger. During my kids nap time I would leave the monitor with my husband shut myself in the car and just scream and whale uncontrollably. Those first few weeks were probably some of the hardest days of my entire life. As I started to come out of the shock and anger, I started experiencing shame. A lot of it. I kept wondering if my relationship with God was not where I thought it was. Was I supposed to have been so angry? Why was my first instinct to question God instead of praising Him? That shame left me confused. My quiet time with God became non-existent. I thought that I couldn't approach him until I could figure out what was going on in my head and in my heart. That confusion led me to complacency. I thought, "I'll just wait until I'm ready to be OK with this. Which might be never." Shame, confusion, complacency, that's what condemnation feels like to me. During that time, I felt punished by God because of my initial reactions to his death. I honestly didn't think there was any going back.

Something you should know about me is that I work for a church, I am the Kids Director of a church plant in South Florida. So, this whole feeling condemned and punished by God was kind of a big deal. I approached my husband and told him I thought I should quit because of it. What he told me changed the course of my mourning and put me on a new path "I support your decision as long as you're willing to admit that you're quitting not because you don't believe in God anymore, but because you're just really, REALLY mad at Him." It may sound strange, but for me it was easier to accept that. Maybe I just didn't believe in God, as opposed to admitting that God and I were having problems in our relationship. This can probably be traced back to the fact that when it comes to fight or flight, I tend to choose "flight."

"There is therefore now no condemnation of those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law has SET YOU FREE in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

From the moment my husband said that to me, I decided that God wasn't condemning me. He wasn't punishing my friend by allowing the death of her son. God didn't take her son, SIN DID. God isn't trying to punish me; Satan is trying to CONVINCE me he is. Satan is shaming me, confusing me, and trying to make me believe I am acting honorable by doing nothing.

My mourning shifted and instead of shame, confusion, and complacency, I've chosen conviction, focus, and drive. I'm convicted that there was a piece of me that believed that because I love God, everything should go MY WAY. I'm focused in being active in listening attentively to the voice of God and shutting out Satan. I'm driven to be SET FREE and walk in that. "There is therefore now NO condemnation." NONE. ZERO. NADA. Not even as my toddler says "a teeny, tiny, baby bit." Whether you're currently mourning the loss of a loved one, enduring trials at work, struggling to keep your marriage alive, or hoping you pass all your classes in order to get your degree there is freedom for you NOW but there is also someone out there trying to convince you otherwise, trying to make you feel condemned. I urge to be convicted, set your focus, and feed your drive, I'm rooting for you.

Maryann Flynn  is one of our Refres{her} bloggers. She has made a career out of serving youth in some of the poorest neighborhoods in South Florida and Las Vegas. As a first generation American, Maryann has a passion for helping students achieve dreams that they once saw as impossible. She hopes to continue to minister to children and their families for as long as God allows her.  Maryann currently lives in Plantation, Florida with her husband and daughter.