My Faith Story
By: Connie Johnson
I slid the door shut quickly to block out the dreaded sound. How long could batteries possibly last? 8, 9, 10 years? Surrounded by Christmas decorations I had joyfully been taking down from the top shelf, I sank to my knees and began to sob. In moving the Santas, bells, and wrapping paper, I had once again run across the Chico’s bag holding Christmas gifts that had never been given. Two pastel gowns size 0-3 months: one yellow, one blue, still in the packages. Two soft little bears that when wound up would play “Rock a Bye Baby.” Marshall (our grandson who had been awaiting those baby brothers) had helped me pick out the gifts so “the babies” would have a present under the tree, even though they wouldn’t be born until the spring.
Luke and Adam were born before Christmas that year: December 8, 2004. Weighing just over one pound each, they looked perfect in every way with the exception of their tiny size. Tragically, they lived only 4 days, leaving their earthly home only seconds apart. The days and months following their loss were filled with grief as I struggled with my faith. Yes, as a Christian, I knew and believed with all my heart that we would be reunited with these two precious boys one day. I tried to remain strong, especially for my daughter, her husband, and Marshall. Despite my faith, I was mad. Mad at God! Why had He let this happen? Jennifer and Gregg were wonderful parents; they could provide for and love those boys.
Days ran into years, and the sack remained on the top shelf. Inevitably, every year as I put up the decorations, the sack would be nudged, and the toys would begin playing their tunes. With the sound the old feelings of blaming God would once again return: why couldn’t I let go of this sack? Was it because I was just sad, or was it because I didn’t want to let God “off the hook”?
I had recently joined a small group at our church; nothing formal or organized, just a circle of friends who met weekly to pray and study scripture together. One afternoon, I tearfully confessed what I had been carrying for 10 years: resentment coupled with grief. Had I stopped praying all those years? No. Had I stopped teaching my Sunday School class? No. Had I stopped believing? No. Had I questioned God? Yes….
Psalm 34: 18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” I believe that God fully expects our questions and our doubts. He never leaves our side, and continually leads us in our walk of faith.
It took me 10 years to recognize this truth. One afternoon, I confronted that sack for the last time. I looked inside the sack one more time as I drove to the Mission which has an outside depository for items to be donated to the needy. As the sack and its contents disappeared, I didn’t feel sad OR mad. Instead, I was filled with great joy. We serve a Risen Savior who knows our every need. My anger, my doubts were gone. A great weight of resentment was lifted and what was left behind was a grateful heart that knows that even in our grief, God is faithful.