Sunday, December 02, 2007

12/2/07 Letters to Parents: "Why, God?"

Letters to Parents: Why, God?

Sections of this are from a letter I wrote to a mother whose young son is having a difficult time dealing with having a relative who was missing and then found deceased. The child decided that since his relative was killed, God no longer existed. As expected, his mother is having her own set of struggles.

In sharing this, my hopes are that it might help someone else who is facing a similar situation.

Dear X,

I suppose we feel as if we should go through life and not have difficulties. It's something that happens to the other guy, not us. When it does happen to us, our "safety net" is yanked away, and we, in our grief, tend to strike out and blame someone. God seems like a good candidate because we're not face to face with Him in the physical sense, and, like a good parent, we feel He should have protected us.

Maybe this is a good analogy in which your child can relate:

When we were kids, 99.9 % of us hurt ourselves at some point when we were outside playing. Our parents let us go outside and play because it was good for our bodies and spirits. We were certainly not held prisoner in our homes just because we might get hurt. So, when the inevitable happened and we did get hurt, did we blame our parents? No, of course not. (At least no kid I knew of ever did.) Did our parents cease to exist because we broke our arm or skinned our knee? No again. So why do we blame God and how does the bad things that happen make Him suddenly disappear?

As I mentioned, it's easier to blame God because He's not someone we can see and touch. We wouldn't have come home with the skinned knee, packed our bags and marched out, not saying a word because our parents had ceased to exist, but we can shake our fist in the air and blame God for our troubles and we can pretend in our minds that He no longer exists as a way to mask our pain.

It may be possible that anger and resentment are the core issues here, not faith. Your son is angry that his safe life has been altered and your attentions diverted. He loves you and hates that you have been hurt and violated. He's young too, so it is more difficult for him to approach a emotion-packed situation in the same way a mature adult would.

I believe that God does not neccesarily cause bad things to happen, but may on occasion allow them to happen. Since we're all gifted with free will, and some of us make wrong choices, for the most part, people are to blame. Because we are human, we may not always understand why these sorts of things happen.

Day after day, bad things happen everywhere. Someone dies in an automobile accident. Someone is murdered. The neighbor's house burned down. My friend lost her job. The list goes on and on.

Examine each bad thing, and you will likely see other causes. A drunk driver caused the accident. Did God make him drink? Did God pull the trigger on the gun that caused the death of the person? No. Did God make the candle tip over that caused the house fire? No, the little boy did. Did God get my friend fired? No. The company was having financial problems and she was let go.

And yes, there are some things that happen wherein you can't be certain why they happened.

In the end, we're still here and we can choose how we will deal with the fact that we ARE the "other guy". We can bury our hand in the sand and try to pretend the bad thing didn't happen. We can bury ourselves in our pain and selfishly shut out everyone else and we can turn to drugs or alcohol.

We can also live. I mean truly live.

That's what I choose despite the cloud that hangs over my head. That cloud represents the pain and loss surrounding the disappearance of my son. I like to say that there is a rain cloud over my head, but God gave me an umbrella, and I use it!

I know my son loves me, and for that reason, he would want me to truly live.

Since Jason disappeared close to 6 1/2 years ago, I have been privleged to meet some of the kindest people on the planet. We know that there are thousands upon thousands of people praying for us all over the world. Strangers have reached out to us and helped us in our time of need, not expecting anything in return. I find that there is truly more good than bad, and by far.

Despite all the bad news on TV, and despite all the situations we encounter with families in pain every single day, there is SO much good. We make the choice to see things in a certain way, so if we choose to view the glass as half full rather than half empty, we will be able to find joy and purpose in our lives again.

When you look outside and the skies are grey, what do you see? Look again, and see all the shades of grey, some with a touch of blue. See the trees with no leaves? Do they look ugly and stark? Look at them again. Without the leaves, you can see what you couldn't before You can see the well-crafted shape of the branches as they extend upward and outward. You can see birdnests you didn't know were there and you can see more sky peeking through the branches. Remember that the leaves fall to ensure the survival of the tree, and that the leaves aren't wasted, since they serve to enrich the earth. Nature, as God intended, is lovely, even when the lights are dimmed and colors altered at this time of year.

If you live in one of the colder regions of the country, go outside during a snowfall, close your eyes, and look up, letting the snow fall on your cheeks. Stick out your tongue and catch a few snowflakes. (I guarantee you will not die of "acid rain".) Catch some snowflakes in your hand and look quickly at their beautiful and unique shape before they melt. Fall back on the ground and make a snow angel. (Sit down first if you have a bad back.) Make a snowball and throw it at your kids or spouse. (not too hard) Who cares what the neighbors think!!

Doesn't that sound like fun?

You can find your joy again if you look for it. It may not be found outside in a pile of freshly fallen snow or near a sturdy tree trunk. You might find it in service to others or in the care of a small child. You might hear it in a beautiful symphony. I cannot tell you where to find it, only that you can find it. Finding it may be a key in your ability to adapt to this difficult situation.

I can also assure you that God is always there for you, even in what may seem like the darkest of hours. In the same way that we can find a new way to feel joy again, we may have to find a new way to listen to God and feel His presence.

With Hope, Always,

Kelly Jolkowski, Mother of Missing Jason Jolkowski
President and Founder of Project Jason
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