Baby Braden Petska

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Purpose in the Pieces

Six years. What’s life like six years after your child dies? How is life lived again once the wheels fall off & debilitate you physically, emotionally & spiritually? How can your life ever be “good” again? How is it the same? How is it different? The scripture that continues to come to mind lately for where our life is at six years later is Romans 8:28 - “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” *What good, might you ask, can come from death? *What good can come from loss? *What good can come from pain & suffering? *How does faith rebuild from a crumbled mess? *How does one overcome anger, bitterness, envy? *How can brokenness mend into something whole & beautiful again? ---There was a time in my grief where I felt toxic; every thought that crossed my mind came from a heart that was bitter. What was once a grateful heart was now replaced with a void that longed for what was lost & envied those who had it. My heart hurt & I felt like I could physically feel the pain, the ache that longed so badly to see, hold, touch, hear, & smell my son. The anger would rise & inside I would feel enraged about this new life I was living. I was mad at God, I doubted Him, I lost my hope in prayer & didn’t want to hear scripture that told me different. The most common phrase people would use was, “He will not leave you, He will not forsake you.” Although I never voiced this out loud, I remember screaming inside of myself, “Yeah, well where was He “that” night, where was He the night my son died?” Why didn’t He protect him? Why didn’t He spare MY son’s life? Where is He NOW? Where is the relief in the pain I’m feeling? ---There was a moment in the “thicker” stages of my grieving where I remember thinking about my faith as a foundation of my life and there it lay in ruins. I remember thinking to myself, I bet when this “thing” gets rebuilt, it will be stronger than ever – I just wasn’t sure how, when or IF that would ever happen. ---It’s only NOW that I feel equipped to answer the questions I wrote above & it’s only NOW that I feel confident in how Romans 8:28 has been highlighted in my own life. ---What good can come from death & loss? Just like how a tornado or any natural disaster can destroy a town in a matter of minutes, death can cause destruction to many lives as well. A town will lie in ruins no matter how you look at it & it will take years to fully recover from such devastation, but someway, somehow life continues to stay in motion. Most often times, you see the beautiful hearts of many coming together in unity to support & assist one another; signs of new life, blooming flowers & other forms of normalcy return. The town will never be the same, but in the rebuilding there was something special formed among the people that nobody can take away. I know I often blogged about the Tommy Group at school; the group of women who would make sure every Monday morning my desk had something to greet me, to allow me to bare the pain for another week - pretending I was okay, trying to smile & hide the fact that on the inside I was dying. In addition to this group, other bonds of friendships formed resulting in an unexpressed understanding of grief & the lasting impact it had on them. So many amazing people were devoted to helping me keep the flame of hope from ever becoming extinguished in my life. Nobody is ever the same for experiencing grief, whether you’re wearing the shoes or walking alongside someone who is. The people – God had been there all along through the support, love & kindness of others. ---What good can come from pain & suffering? I would never wish this type of pain on anyone – the sharpness that would take my breath away & the heaviness that laid on my chest, the pain was both emotional and physical. The moments of reality & “forever” that would snap me out of denial - it was a shock to my system every time my heart would remember. But somewhere in the midst of the pain, I re-discovered the meaning of joy & how to delicately balance the two together. Things that once held fret or stress in life were no longer significant & priorities became realigned. Life became simple again as the focus became narrow & daily survival is what was prevalent. Strength was found in unexpected places & an odd sense of survivorship was felt after I realized what no human heart should ever have to endure, I’ve now survived….days, weeks & now years... ---How does faith rebuild from a crumbled mess? God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Somehow I feel like I’ve been called to live “this” life, this exact life. Psalm 139:16 even says: “Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” As unfair as that may sound given the suffering I’ve had to endure, I feel as if these past six years God has continued to equip me for the next stage of the journey. How? Like I had mentioned in the above passage, He placed people in my life to walk this journey with me & support me along the way; He gifted me two more beautiful children to raise, nurture & refill our hearts; He introduced me to a career opportunity that has allowed me to rediscover myself & my strengths; He highlighted my writing ability, a gift I was unaware of until I used it to purge & honor my grief at the same time; He showed me where to find strength in places I never knew existed; He extended grace to my bitter, angry heart & forgave me for the hatred I harbored for so long. ---Before Braden’s death my faith was not as strong as I had thought. I was a believer in God, fate, in “there’s a reason for everything,” the after-life (heaven), and on most Sundays I went to church. After Braden died, I had SO many questions & little to no answers. I was confused & heartbroken that the good & faithful God so many would speak of could take my Braden away & cause suffering upon us. I began to not believe in prayer, and going to church no longer mattered any more. I started to resent the fact that I had been a good person for most of my life & here I stand with my life in ruins, unable to figure out how to take the next step. I was envious of those who received answered prayers when mine weren’t answered that late evening in March. I was far from understanding others who had a stronger faith than me & stopped reading “healing” books when they spoke of scripture, God’s blessings in the midst of their grief, and other things that made me think I should feel different than how I was feeling. Sometimes you get to a place in your life when sinking lower is no longer an option & the only way out is up. That moment, that pivotal moment in my life came from a simple quote….”Sometimes God wants you to witness the miracle & sometimes He wants you to BE the miracle.” That pivotal moment taught me so much. Although I will never understand why Braden was called “home” so soon, so suddenly & unexpectedly, I felt at that moment God was calling ME for purpose, for a reason I didn’t understand & still don’t fully grasp. It was a moment He was confirming that all of this grief, sorrow, pain & suffering that I had faced (and was continuing to unravel) was to be used for something more, for a plan far beyond anyone’s comprehension. So here I sit, writing not only about the yuck, the grief, the void, the destruction, but about the hope that has been interwoven in all of these moments - the hope that beauty can truly rise out of ashes. I envision the rebirth of brokenness to look like a shattered object & its intricate pieces delicately put back together again. Some pieces fit together smoothly where others have larger gaps signifying the space between. If you look closely between each crack, each crevice where the pieces come together, you will see the beauty of God’s love, grace, & strength holding each piece together. ---So, the good isn’t the result or the outcome of the late March 16th/early morning of March 17th, 2009 – there will always be a void in my heart for the loss of my precious B. Like spring blooming after a long, cold winter or a rainbow being cast after a rainstorm, joy will come…it might not be tomorrow or the next day, but it will come. "Your grieving is among the most sacred and the most human things you will ever do. It will unfold to you the mystery of life...and death...and rebirth. Honor it."


Blogger Pat said...

You again amaze and touch my heart, with your grace and an indescribable ability to write.

Thank you so much Steph, for sharing such deep and personal insights into your heart, mind and soul. You and your family have touched so many lives with your love. The depth that you reach, with such raw emotion, is incredible. Mr. B will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

My love to you all,

8:34 PM  
Blogger Mary Lou said...

Thanks Steph! This really touched me.
Love, Mary Lou

7:46 PM  

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