Cuz I Gotta Have Faith

Have you ever lost something that you held dear?

Maybe a favorite piece of jewelry? Time? A friend?

I lost my faith in God once. For almost a year.

My mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer just a few weeks short of mine and hubby’s second wedding anniversary. She was an amazing woman. And I’m not just saying that. Everybody adored her. When you think of the ideal “mom”, that was her. She had a ton of friends that sang her praises. She volunteered (with the American Cancer Society) to drive elderly people that couldn’t drive to medical appointments and to run errands. She would do anything for anybody. Thoughtful, warm, beautiful smile.

Clearly, she was not a likely candidate for cancer!
Clearly God wouldn’t tear an angel from our hearts!

But we were wrong. Less than a year before her death, she was diagnosed with cancer.

I’ve mentioned before that religion doesn’t play a huge roll in my life. It is important to me, and I pray and thank God every night for our blessings. My mom’s best friend, a practicing Christian and strong believer, once told me “God doesn’t care where you worship him as long as you worship him”.

So I prayed. I prayed that she would get better. I prayed that chemotherapy and radiation would work. I prayed the homeopathic treatments that she tried would work. I prayed for a miracle. I tried to bargain with God. If he let her live, I would never do X, Y, or Z again. If he let her live, I’d be a better person.

A few months before she passed, it was clear she wasn’t getting better. And that’s when I started to get mad. Why would God take someone so loved by so many? Someone that had not even met her son’s children yet? But I continued to pray.

Up until the night we got the call that she had passed away. We had been over to see her earlier that day, and knew that she was getting worse. We knew what was coming. We got to say that we loved her, and spoke to her privately. When we got the call that she was gone, I was shocked that she had actually died. I expected my miracle.

And I was pissed. Pissed off at God. All those prayers? They meant nothing. Why would he take someone that was so loved by so many people? There are thousands of murderers, rapists, and child molesters that deserve death – why not take one of them? WHY, WHY, WHY?

The prayers stopped. I ignored him when I heard him trying to “talk” to me. Religion? Obviously a joke. Why believe in HIM if he can’t even help when you asked for it. There was no lesson to be learned. No epiphany to wait for. There was just sorrow and grief. IT WAS NOT FAIR.

Does time really heal all wounds? I think it does. Because ever so slowly, over that first year after her death, I started to listen to him again. And I started to pray…occasionally. And when I invited him back into my life because I missed him, he gladly accepted me with open arms.

I still haven’t figured out the “why”, and I still don’t know what I was supposed to learn from her death. Maybe I never will. But I am glad I found my faith again because it really is what helps me get through the trials and tribulations of life.

And so it goes…

I wrote this post for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop in response to Prompt #2: What did you once lose? Write about your search to find it again. 

Comments

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss...your MIL sounds like she was an amazing woman.

    I can relate to this post...not from the death of a loved one but after my 1st miscarriage and again after my 3rd miscarriage, I really fell away from God and I was so angry.

    But even during that time, I felt so lonely. It was a huge void in my life. Eventually, like you, I slowly made my way back to Him. Sometimes we're not meant to understand why things happen the way they do but I'm just so thankful that God understands.
  2. you're so right, everyone did love her. i will always remember her sweet smile and kindness helping at all the school events. i'm so sorry she lost that battle...my dad did too. it's not fair, but i got back my faith and am glad you did too. i bet that's what they would want for us...
  3. The Urban Cowboy says:
    I am truly sorry for you and your families loss.

    Your post really resonates with me. I have also stopped believing for a short time because of the loss of a loved one. I agree with you, I don't believe I will ever be able to make sense of the 'why', but than again like you say, am I supposed to?

    I did find my belief again, and am glad I wasn't lost for long.

    There's a line from one of Clint Eastwood's movies (Unforgiven) that for some reason I revisit, kind of corny, but it goes..."deservings got nothing to do with it."

    I have no idea why I told you that, just came out.
  4. Alejandra says:
    Oh! Natalie,

    I completely understand the feelings you went through and continue to go through!

    I lost my own father to cancer when I was almost 14 years old. It has always been puzzling to me why he had to go. My mother would say that God takes the good ones and that is what kept me going.

    I think what would upset me the most is that over time I started to forget what his laughter sounded like. He, like your mother-in-law, had the ability to draw people to him because of his kindness.

    He never met his grandchildren either. However, I'm a firm believer that he has ALWAYS kept an eye on all of us! I don't think I will ever be able to get over him going to heaven. I have just learned to deal with the loss. He's very much missed but I know he continues to send his love my way.

    God bless you for your ability to write and share with us!
    Alejandra
  5. Heather says:
    Beautiful... thanks for sharing!
  6. what a beautiful mil it sounds like she is...i say is bc she is still with you guys...

    i lost my faith too when my mom passed but...time makes it a little easier..

    cancer sucks arse!
  7. NanaDiana says:
    Thank you for being so honest. Many people would have a hard time admitting that they questioned God! Bless you honey!
  8. I'm sorry for your loss - but glad that you and your husband had such a wonderful presence in your life.
  9. Courtney says:
    While I never lost my faith, I would love to understand why my father was taken from me just as I was getting to know him. I don't think we're supposed to know why. I just always try to remember that the path was chosen before we were even born. God knew the date and time we were born before it happened and He knows the date and time of our death as well as the cause. I just pray for peace. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!
  10. Mrs.Mayhem says:
    So sorry for your loss. Your mother-in-law sounds like she was an amazing woman.

    I've also questioned God's judgement during a difficult time. Life is not fair, and that is a hard idea to accept. I was raised Catholic, and I was taught that if a person lives following God's rules, then they would be rewarded.

    Obviously, life is too complex to fit into that simple equation. Wish I had some sort of comfort or wisdom to share, but acceptance of God's will is a struggle for me too.
  11. Ronnica says:
    Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I think that we won't always know the "whys" of everything that happens...it's all part of the living in faith. Doesn't make it easier.
  12. So sorry for your loss. Have you ever read the book When Bad Things Happen To Good People? It was required reading in my undergrad religion course and it really "spoke" to me.
  13. Krista @ Not Mommy of the Year says:
    Beautifully written. I think faith is something that is tested for many people, the accomplishment is in being able to find it again after losing or questioning it.
  14. Wonderful post and testimony. I think we have all been there at some point in our lives, angry and shouting at God. I did many times when my first husband and father of my two kids, ages 4 and 5 months at the time, was killed in an accident. I, too, have stopped asking why and now believe that some things we will never understand..until maybe one day when our time comes to leave this earth.
    Found you through Mama Kat's.
  15. It's never easy losing a loved one! I never asked why, I just wished I had more time!~Makes me think twice about how we react to every situation! I want to leave this world with the best of memories:) God is good! I don't go to church but I pray and our relationship is our relationship! You worship where you want like you said!:) xoxoxoxo
  16. Natalie says:
    Thank you all, so much, for your kind words and support. I didn't know how much I needed to write this post until after I finished it.

    @Krista - an epiphany! I never thought of it that way before...maybe what I learned is that my faith is so strong that even after being tested and left with so much pain, I still have it. It will always be there for me.

    @Urban Cowboy - I love that quote. It is so, so, SO true.

    @Mrs. Mayhem - I was raised the same way, and my MIL's death was the first time I realized what "Life's not fair" really meant.
  17. litanyofbritt says:
    Oh, the heartbreak. I'm not religious so I can't advice you on your faith, but I hope your family can find peace, and that your pain becomes manageable with time. HUGS!
  18. I'm sorry for your loss Natalie, I'm glad you got a chance to know her and appreciate her before she passed.
  19. Heidi Walker says:
    I believe that we are all here for a purpose. Some of us do what we need to do so well that sickness falls upon us to remove us from here faster than our loved ones are ready.

    It is not fair. I too would have been pissed. To take such a loving good person away too soon seems a waste to us.

    I have had 2 people I care for dearly die of lung cancer in the past 5 years. It was too early and I was mad. I asked myself though,

    Was I mad for completely selfish reasons?
    Would I rather have them here and suffering or have them released from there worldly bodies and no longer in pain?

    Do I truly believe in the afterlife and if so and since they were such a good person should I not be happy that they are now in paradise?

    These are hard questions. They knock right up against what we consider to be faith. We do not get to see the afterlife until it is upon us. So the faith is believing it is there without having any proof.

    May you find a way to find comfort in the fact that she is no longer suffering.

    I miss my family members that have passed dearly and think of them often but it is not my right to keep people on this earth longer that God's will.

    Death is hard for all that are still living. It is only easy for those that have passed into the next world.
  20. LOL, I've lost my ability to spell correctly... again.
  21. This was a beautiful tribute to a lovely lady. I have a feeling this post is going to inspire a lot of people who may have gone through the same thing. I know it's ispired me.
  22. Katie's Dailies says:
    I went through the same thing that you did, but twice: first we lost our newborn due to kidney complications when he was four hours old. A year later, I lost my MIL due to cancer---three weeks before our third child was due. I retreated into myself that previous year after our first son died, but I wasn't angry with God, I was so mad at myself that I wanted to hide from everybody, including Him. But that year that our third child was born and he was safe and fat and happy and healthy, well, I realized that I didn't have to GO to church, that God was always available to talk whenever I wanted, so we started talking again.

    It's amazing how we finally come to our senses, isn't it?
  23. What a beautiful post!

    I think in times of sorrow..it's so easy to lose your faith..and your way in general. I'm glad you pulled out of it....So sorry for the loss of your mother in law...what a gorgeous tribute to her!
  24. Cancer sucks!! I lost my dad 3 years ago last feb and I am still searching...love your post!
  25. Ms. Understood says:
    Amazing post. It hits home with me so much. I'm still in the process of healing (clearly not particularly far along as I would like to be since I can barely type as I'm wiping away tears). It's hard not to be angry, hurt and confused and I guess it's really not for us to understand. I'm glad you found your faith again.
  26. Kristin Glasbergen says:
    A beautiful post! Best Mama Kat's I've read.
    Maybe you were suppose to learn grief?
  27. oh, Nat! i was expecting something funny, but needed to quickly switch to 'somber' mode. i'm sorry you lost your mom, and at such a young age. beautiful post, girly!
  28. Lovely post, thank you for sharing your story.

    I love what your mom's friend says:"God doesn't care where you worship him as long as you worship him".

    I'm still trying to figure out my relationship with God and religion in general. I undoubtedly still have a million questions surrounding my parents untimely passing and the only way that I have been able to accept it is by believing (reluctantly) that sometimes, bad things happen to good people.

    I think that's the case with your MIL too.

    Sorry for your family's loss. I'm sure it still hurts.

    xoxo
  29. Heather says:
    What a beautiful post. I can understand losing your faith after a loss like that. I am sorry for your loss. I know it has been some time, but I am sure you still miss her.
  30. The Redhead Riter says:
    Such a beautiful post about a huge heartache. I'm so sorry you've had to experience this already.
  31. Such a heartfelt post. So sorry for your loss.

    I yell at God and question Him and get pissed off. I figure He knows how I really feel anyway, so there's no real use in my pretending like I'm okay with the unfair things that happen.

    I'm glad you linked up- you really did pour your heart out!
  32. Great post Natalie. I truly believe that someday, you *will* understand the "why" behind your MIL's early passing. Every time something challenging or difficult has happened to me, I get a revelation somewhere down the road, and it all makes sense: God does have a perfect plan.
  33. Natalie,

    Wow. This is EXACTLY what I am going through right now. I too have never been "religious" I believe, I pray & thank God for my blessings, ask him to watch over my family & friends. Then I lost my mother unexpectedly in March. She died of sepsis. Yes sepsis. Something if caught in time a lot of people could bounce back from. But my mother was also an alcoholic. Her liver was is bad shape, her kidney's shut down from the sepsis. Her body had no defenses to fight with. She was 59. Dell was 3.5 months old. She last saw him when he was 1.5 months. I am no longer sure what I believe... I have a million questions. Why, why, why did she get so sick (sepsis) and no one knew? Why couldn't she win the battle with alcoholism? She will never see her grandchildren grow. She barely knew Dell. How long will Kensi remember her? Thank you so much for writing and posting this. Although I know I am not alone in my feelings, it is good to hear it. It is also good to hear how you came back from it. I hope I can too someday!
  34. Pumpkin and Piglet says:
    Beautiful post Natalie. I'm sorry for your loss, she sounds like an amazing woman!
  35. Giving up God was the best thing that ever happened to me personally. I am responsible for my actions and my life. Things aren't "bestowed" upon me because I am great and bad things don't happen to me because I am bad. They just happen. For me it is a liberating concept. That is just me. Sorry for your loss. Coming from Mama Kats.
  36. Bethany @ Organic Enchilada says:
    I believe that God always answers prayers, it's just that sometimes we don't get the answer we want. He does have a plan, a purpose for each of our lives, and He loves us unconditionally.

    My heart goes out to you, and I'm so glad you shared.
  37. If SHE can figure it out.......... says:
    What a touching post. I sorta cried a little. Death is a hard thing to comprehend (even for us "grownups") and sometimes it's just easier when we have something (or someONE) to blame it on. Glad you let Him back in.
  38. Megan (Best of Fates) says:
    Your mother-in-law sounds like she was a unique, caring, amazing woman. I'm so sorry for your loss.
  39. I wanted to leave a comment that didn't sound trite. But I don't know if that is possible. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad that you found your way back to God.
  40. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. I think we all have struggles with faith like that. That's why it's called "faith," not "fact" or "knowledge."
    That being said, I have a lot of respect for this post. You might get hammered from a few people for being so honest, but I applaud it.
  41. Cara Mamma says:
    Beautiful post! I had a hard time reconciling faith when I had cancer--- and finally decided that fair and faith and cancer just dont jive sometimes.
  42. Melissa says:
    For something so powerful (faith) it is so fragile isn't it? My faith has wavered many times, but I am so thankful that it has never been lost, close (like after my miscarriage) but never lost.

    Stopping by from SITS,this was beautiful!
  43. the-ocm.com says:
    What a powerful post. My advice, stop asking why. You'll drive yourself (and those around you) crazy. I know it's hard, it took me time to get there but once you do, you feel a little bit lighter everyday.
  44. Rebecca Watson says:
    im glad you got your relationship back with god! I am so happy for you! :)


    im officially a proud follower - come follow me back and lets stay in touch!

    www.justcherishtoday.com
  45. June Freaking Cleaver says:
    Religion and faith are two very different things. Your mother-in-law gave you a wonderful example of how to be a woman and a loving mother. I'm sorry she couldn't stay beside you to see how you did on those lessons, but I bet she's giving you a big thumbs up for how you handle things each day!
  46. If you accept that everything that happens happens for a reason? Then your beautiful and inspiring mother-in-law has given you a gift with her passing. The opportunity to question and then re-find your faith.

    And a faith lost and then re-found? Is stronger for the break.

    My thoughts and prayers to you.
  47. First off, I've got to say Thank you for tweeting for me. 100 followers has been my goal for the past so many months. It's not just a number, it's the fact that I'm not talking to myself anymore. Thank you again.

    When my father died in 2005, I lost all hope. I know where you're coming from and saying that you lost your faith. A lot of people would put you in the damnation category. It's so hard trying to figure out where is God in all of this? And what is this purpose?

    The power of prayer is... miraculous to say the least. I'm sort of there, not inviting him/her/it back in just yet, but I'm almost there.

    And no worries. Just keep remembering that your mother in law is smiling down on you, she never really left.
  48. I am sorry for you loss. I felt the same way when I lost my grandmother to cancer 6 years ago. I never understood why? I still don't. I think I was at a point where this was my third grandparent to pass from cancer and I just didn't understand why God would let this happen.
    I still don't understand what God does or why he does it, but I have faith in him.
    Now that my father has been fighting cancer for 3 years I put my faith back in Gods hand and pray for the best every day.
  49. Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip says:
    I'm really sorry to hear about the passing of your MIL. She sounds like an amazing woman. It is sometimes hard to understand why certain people are taken so early in their lives. But I know that God has a plan for all of us that will make much more sense when we move to the next world. I bet your MIL was needed for something very special in the next world and that she is looking down and loving all of you very much right now. My heart is with you.
  50. Mama Kat says:
    Same thing happened to my step dad. Sweet gentle soul, wouldn't harm a fly, and yet had to endure months of excruciating pain and hospital visits before succumbing to cancer.

    Beyond frustrating...I can really relate to this.
  51. It is hard to lose anyone, let alone someone loved. It seems so unfair at times, but only God knows the why and wheres.

    I always like to think that the departed are in a much better place. It helps me.
  52. Lindsay says:
    Thanks for sharing this and for your honesty. I'm sure that God put this into your heart to share to help someone else struggling with their faith. Many blessings to you and your family!
  53. JDaniel4's Mom says:
    This post has been selected as one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link to my post that mentions you: http://www.jdaniel4smom.com/2010/06/great-posts-i-came-across-this-week.html
  54. omgyummy says:
    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest. I lost my MIL almost 3 years ago and miss her every single day. She died of Alzheimer's -- it literally sucked the life out of her and we watched it happen with no ability to stop it. But I guess we are grateful that we have so many wonderful memories from before she passed away.

    I'm pretty new to blogging and from looking around your site, it seems like I could learn a thing or two from you. If you're in the mood for something yummy, stop by sometime: omgyummy.wordpress.com.
  55. I walked hand in hand with your mom-in-law the day of your wedding...she was a beatifult, sweet, caring woman! I can still feel her hand in mine! She is with you and J...she can feel your love...and she does know her grandbabies! I shouldn't take you all so much for granted. I love you!
  56. I'm so sorry I missed this post. I'm so glad you mentioned it in your recent post.

    So.very.difficult.

    Cancer is cruel. I lost my favorite aunt when she was just 43. She had 5 children between 8months and 20. I, being a nurse, helped with her home care. It doesn't make sense...losing such amazing, sweet people to such an ugly disease. But one thing I know for sure...God is GOOD...ALL.THE.TIME! Even when things don't make a lick of sense...or seem just down right cruel...we can cling to that truth!
  57. MommaKiss says:
    Well, this touched a nerve. I lost my little brother, much too soon. A 17 year old smart athlete, taken too soon. And praying was NOT easy. That's supposed to be the time when you pray most, you need Him most, to be by your side, to be the one set of footprints, but I couldn't do it. I, too, was pissed off. But we've made amends. It's been a longer period of time (16 years) but me & God, we're tight again.
  58. Faith is a tragic thing to lose, but a wonderful thing to find. I am so sorry for your loss. Cancer is ugly and painful, but for some reason, God sees the need to have cancer tearing many of our lives apart.

    Right now we are waiting on the results to 2 biopsies and 1 MRI for 3 different members of our family. It is the time to truly lean on the Lord.

    Thank you for writing this and being so honest.
  59. From Tracie says:
    It is so hard....those moments that don't make any sense and those answers that don't seem to come. I'm glad that you have been able to open up to God again and find your faith even in the midst of all the questions.
  60. Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" says:
    I found your blog through Saturday Samplings. Boy, can I relate to this, although mine occurred when I lost my grandma when I was still a kid. Some things we'll never know the answer to on Earth. God never said he would explain himself to us, just that He would help us through and we must remember, death on earth is not "the end." I wrote about my loss here: http://karenzemek.blogspot.com/2010/03/loving-memories-of-my-grandma-arlettaz.html

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I know has been touched by cancer in someway. I wrote a post titled Cuz I Gotta Have Faith and described how I ended my relationship with God after we lost my mother-in-law to cancer. [...]
  2. [...] to do with my with my mother-in-law. I wrote about how much she meant to me in a post called Cuz I Gotta Have Faith. She passed away a few years before we went through our fertility treatments to get pregnant [...]
  3. […] Mommy of a Monster( I Mean Toddler) and Infant Twins wrote a great post called Cuz I Gotta Have Faith. […]