Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pain and faithlessness.

Do you ever keep reading something you know you shouldn’t, that no good can come of it? For me, the topic is usually something awful that has happened to somebody; something I don’t want to ever happen to me. Today, I happened upon a blog by a dad whose daughter would have just celebrated her second birthday if she hadn’t died a few months ago. He started it when she was born and he became a stay-at-home dad. Now it’s somewhere for him to let out his grief. His wife has one, too. They are excruciatingly painful to read, but I couldn’t stop. They are trying so hard to keep moving forward in their lives.

No matter how painful it is to read about, it can’t be anything compared to experiencing it. I have one old friend who lost a daughter when she was only six months old, although I didn’t know him when that happened. When he told me about it, I could appreciate that it had been an awful experience for him and his wife, but I was unable to truly empathize; to feel it viscerally. Not ever having spent that much time with children, I didn’t have it in me yet to truly appreciate the value of a tiny little life, only just starting to be lived. Now that I do, I’m embarrassed by my old self.

Of course, when I go down the road of my newfound empathy with other parents, it can be tough to watch or hear about all sorts of things. I haven’t yet learned to steel myself completely against images of children starving to death; their mothers swatting flies away from their dull, listless faces, or from photographs of small children smiling from their hospital beds; machines and tubes and teddy bears everywhere. It could all be so overwhelming if we didn’t have some built in mechanism to shut it out and continue on with our own existences. And we do, although I don’t expect that mechanism to do much good when it’s our own child who has suffered.

I have such a hard time understanding how people can believe in a benevolent God. It's all well and good when you're thanking him for your game-winning touchdown, but when he's taking your child away? What's so benevolent about that? The only faith I have is in the inherent goodness of the people I've been lucky enough to surround myself with in this life. Beyond that, I can't comment.

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