Sunday, September 16, 2007

Have Faith and Quit Your Whining!

I almost took down that last post because it was so negative in parts. Plus I feared that readers were thinking I was referring to their previous comments as being flippant or unhelpful. Not at all! You guys have kept me sane! Not one single person has said anything I would consider insensitive.

The more I've thought about it and the more I've read, I'm finally realizing I'm being too hard on people who love us and have no idea how to comfort us or help us at this time. Most people don't have a manual handy that explains how to comfort loved ones in the midst of various types of turmoil.

On the other hand, I'm still struggling with a certain family member--the one who told us not to give the surgery a second thought.

We were barely awake on Saturday morning--sitting in a dark living room in our pajamas--when I noticed someone was staring in the small window in our front door. I was startled that anyone would be watching us, and even more shocked that it was family who live in a neighboring state. We all know how much I despise surprise visits, but this one ended up being a good one despite the surprise aspect. Ironman has asked this relative not to be at the hospital on the day of surgery because the relative tends to open his mouth and asinine things fly out.

Who am I trying to protect? Okay, my father-in-law visited. His heart is almost always in the right place. I have no doubt he adores his children and wants desperately to protect them from their own stupidity. Never in my life have I seen a person fail so miserably while trying so hard to convince others he's superior in every way. He does have many talents, but imparting wisdom is just not one of them. He has a habit of stating the obvious and then looking at me as if he just revealed a secret of the universe.

Today's lesson was empathy and sympathy. Ironically he did the poorest job of demonstrating either with the conversation that followed, so I don't know why he chose to begin with a lecture of the semantics of each word. Because I knew what was coming, I interjected that it has been VERY frustrating (hint, hint) to have people tell us how we should feel about what's taking place in our lives when they've never been in our shoes.

I was ignored, and the rest of the lecture continued including examples of a friend's daughter who always has a smile on her face and a song in her heart even though her child has leukemia and has spent the past year and a half in the hospital.

Translation: Quit moping around because your child is having open heart surgery. If a mother of a dying child can be so optimistic and upbeat, so can you.

My thought: Good for her. Seriously. If she hasn't had a dark period in a year and a half, more power to her. Personally I think:

A. She has a really good doctor who has given her excellent medication.
B. She is seriously good at putting on a facade of peace and tranquility when others are watching.
C. She has lost touch with reality in order to cope with what's happening.
D. She's come to terms with it and has given it over completely to God who has given her peace that passes understanding.

I hope for her sake that it's D.

D has not happened for us yet. I'm still praying that it will. To some extent, it has. Before I go on with my rant, I'll tell you what the rest of the lecture consisted of...

My father-in-law and mother-in-law tag teamed us on how we simply can not allow ourselves to feel fear or worry because there's no point in it. They went on about how we have to rely on our faith to see us through.

How many times have I thought that or said that in my life? I totally believe it. But I feel like writing a book for Christians who lay an unintentional guilt trip on their brother and sisters in Christ in an innocent attempt to keep them focused on the almighty God. If you would just keep the faith...

Ooooh, so it's my lack of faith that's causing all of this? So it's my fault? Great.

I honestly don't think I would be having the trouble with depression that I'm experiencing now if I hadn't gone along with what my fellow Christians who were promoting the faith in God and expect a miracle mentality. I was even given a book for Christmas (that I only read half of to tell you the truth) that tells Christians they already have the healing from God. You just have to know how to pray about it. To be fair, I should have finished the book before ragging on it, but I was so frustrated by the thought that God would only answer my prayers if I knew the tricks of how to go about it that I tossed it aside. I don't believe God plays games.

Don't hear me wrong. I believe God can and still does perform miracles for some people some of the time. But the power of positive thinking and faith that the next echocardiogram would show she was healed did not work in our case. So each time we got more bad news, I sunk a little lower. Not only was I crushed because I wasn't prepared to hear bad news since I was only focused on what God could do for her, but I also blamed myself for not having enough faith, not being a good enough person, and not praying the right prayers.

I think God would like to tell us sometimes, "YOU'RE TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT!" There have been many times in my life that I felt like God didn't answer prayers, but time showed me he did answer them in his time in his way. I don't doubt this will be the same way. I feel like God has given us insurance and competent doctors among many other things like supportive friends, strangers who are offering to help us in any way, and the list goes on.

It's not God I'm angry with. It's the well-meaning Christians that are driving me crazy. God never said we can't be afraid. We're humans. "I am weak, but he is strong..." And telling me I've got to have faith just implies that I'm not showing enough faith. The last thing I need right now is people making me feel guilty for not being stronger or happier or more positive. I'm scared! I AM praying about it! I AM trying!

Despite all the faith in the world, bad things happen to good people. That's why there's a saying about it. Humans make errors. I can have all the faith in the world that God will protect Lindley, but nothing can change the free will a surgeon has to foul up. It happens. It just does. Saying it won't happen and being a positive thinker isn't going to change how capable the doctors are or how Lindley reacts to the anesthesia or how her body responds to the heart and lung machine. There's a million tiny things that could go wrong. And while I'm HOPING AND PRAYING everything will go smoothly, and I don't want anybody else dwelling on the fact that the surgery may not go as planned, I still have to think about those things. If something goes wrong, I'll blame myself. Not Ironman. Even though we both feel the surgery is our only option at this point, I'm turning over our baby and praying that nothing goes wrong.

"Fingers crossed! Hope you weren't out drinking last night! You look distracted and maybe even a little sleepy, but here's my baby! See ya in 6 hours! "

"Oh, Jennifer! You just have to have faith! It's just Satan putting those fears in your head. Don't give the surgery a second thought. You can't worry about it."

I wish I had the power to say to them, "You're fired." "Your show has been cancelled." "You're cooked."

I don't know. How do you balance the faith it takes to believe in miracles with the reality that God may have another route for you to take? I just don't have it in me to go into yet another situation believing whole heartedly that things will be wonderful and come crashing down if they don't. I'd rather go into it realistically and be emotionally prepared (as much as one can be) for set backs. I wasn't always cynical.

I think my rant is over because Bub is awake. I feel a little better venting once again.


  • vent all you want, you are supposed to be's your kid.

    By Blogger flutter, at Sun Sep 16, 04:18:00 PM  

  • It's like Faith is a condiment, or a supplement. Here, have a little more faith, that makes everything better. Too bad you can't buy it at the store. Course they'd always be out of stock.

    You really did a great job of explaining the confusion that so many people feel about sickness and faith!! I am so sorry you are having to wrestle with these super deep thoughts.

    Also sorry that your father in law "just doesn't get it" as Dr. Quickdraw McGraw would say. So can I be the bouncer if he dares darken the door at the hospital? I would so love to alert security!

    By Blogger headless chicken, at Sun Sep 16, 04:37:00 PM  

  • It's easy to say those things about someone else's trauma and stay neatly uninvolved. Just being there and crying together is harder. Your father in law sounds kind of heartless.

    By Blogger Julia, at Sun Sep 16, 08:17:00 PM  

  • I think you understand more about God than many, many other people. Well-meaning Christians who lay guilt trips drive me nuts too.

    By Blogger skape7, at Sun Sep 16, 08:23:00 PM  

  • As always I admire and love your raw honesty. You put it all out there in a way that makes people understand and your faith to me, as you know an ex drug addict topless dancer,( haha) has never once wavered throughout any of this.
    You always talk about turning it over to God and praying, to me that means you have faith that he will do what is best for the master plan, you just may not like what is best. I will pray for you and hope for you.
    However I think that your FIL and MIL have a right and a need to be there when she has surgery. Regardless of what he may say. He needs to be there to be supportive, just like your parents, you guys are still there babies and they know the two of you are hurting. Besides if he steps out of line it would give you the perfect opportunity to cuss him up one side and down the other and tell him exactly what you think and you can then feel better having said it to him and be easily forgiven because of your stress level!! :)

    By Blogger Deb, at Sun Sep 16, 08:24:00 PM  

  • I've been reading for awhile now and when I first read about your daughter having to have open heart surgery my first thought was how awful for your family to have to go through this. It is a big deal, your child whom you love dearly will be put under anesethia and then cut open and her precious organs that give her life will be touched and repaired. You can have faith, you can believe and put it in God's hand, but it does not stop you from being human, humans get scared and worry, it's mostly human nature, and its your kid. The child that you wanted so badly and grew in your womb. I don't understand what people aren't getting? It is a serious big deal, not something to take lightly.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this at all, but I think you know that there are those of us out here that do get it. My children were born 2 1/2 months early. My mother does not get it. She does not understand the pain and fear we went through. She always says "well there here and fine" it drives me crazy that she down plays the pain we all went through. She didn't even come and see them in the NICU because she said she couldn't handle it. That tell you how out of touch with it she really was.

    Ok sorry about my rant I got a little carried away there. I will be thinking positive thoughts for you all. Especially on Oct 2nd and awaiting an update.


    By Blogger Butterfly Girl, at Sun Sep 16, 08:31:00 PM  

  • ok Jenn, Im really really good at one thing in life, like it was almost MY "gift" from god. And that is, kicking old men in the balls for being heartless old school thinkers. I voulenter to come over, And weather it be the power of satan, or the force of god, swing back and kick that old goat. I know hes your father in law, but honestly there is only so much you can take. If you want to cry, then cry, If you want to scream, then scream, If you want to hit, HIT HIM HARD DAMN IT! (kinda like in steel magnolias) But dont take his crap. What do you Really care at this point what he has to say. Its your house, its your kid and if he dosent like it, tell him bluntly to stay the hell away. Im sorry but everything that I have ever read about him makes me so crazy, as always We love you, and we love your family, Our prayers are with you.

    By Blogger Marcia, at Sun Sep 16, 09:06:00 PM  

  • Faith

    But your right, its folks like your FIL and other well meaning christians that give faith a bad name. They take themselves out of any responsibility in a matter, which if you examine it, is kinda scary...becasue they fail to remember God also said, "God helps those who help themself."

    You cant do that if you abdicate responibility.

    Your the momma bear, and they worry. To brush aside those worries like people are trying to wrong. You have to try and balance out teh worry by thinking positive....but not ignoring it like folks are trying to do.

    We've talked about have well meaning folks say stupid ass things. It happens. People are, well, stupid sometimes when these kind of things happen.

    I just shake my head on what folks say in the name of trying to be helpful....

    By Blogger carmachu, at Sun Sep 16, 09:13:00 PM  

  • I am glad you can and do vent here. It is perfectly normal to have fears & doubts. I'd be concerned if you didn't! What came to my mind while reading your post was a similar situation Job had. When things got bad, it was people closest to him that gave him the hardest time. So it is with you - a striking parallel.

    At the risk of sounding rude, your father-in-law (I hate to say it) is a narcisstic twit. Maybe a well meaning one but one nonetheless. Setting and keeping tight boundaries with him is the only way to limit exposure and maintain one's sanity.

    I agree whole heartedly with you about prayer. God answers in His own way and time. We can do all we can but somethings are just beyond anyone's control - except His. I like to think that God worries and frets over us all the time and He is God. And if He does feel that way about us, then I think it is Divine to feel that way about our children.

    Keep venting Jenny, we are listening!

    By Blogger LeRoy Dissing, at Mon Sep 17, 06:14:00 AM  

  • You are being totally normal!!

    I swear. This is normal.

    You feel how you feel.

    I was just a bag of emotions and that's okay. We are human beings.

    By Blogger Terri@SteelMagnolia, at Mon Sep 17, 08:56:00 AM  

  • Oh... (sorry for the spam again)

    someone once told me that "worrying was like rocking in a rocking chair".
    It doesn't get you anywhere...

    I still worried ... but I did think about that comment while I was worrying.

    *shakes head* I don't know Jen...

    it's just going to happen ...

    you're going to worry your ass off.

    By Blogger Terri@SteelMagnolia, at Mon Sep 17, 09:01:00 AM  

  • How come people who can't explain why why this happened to you, are such experts on how you should respond to it?

    I'm pulling for you.

    By Blogger Merle Sneed, at Mon Sep 17, 09:21:00 AM  

  • One 4th of July, I was at a multi-family BBQ in a friend's yard, and some neighborhood teenagers begin lighting firecrackers. It scared a little boy at the picnic, and he ran in the house. His dad pulled him out of the house and said to him, firmly, "YOU NEED TO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FIREWORKS!"

    If only it worked that way.

    By Blogger Kurt, at Mon Sep 17, 11:46:00 AM  

  • I'll be praying for you regarding this family situation as well -- you have every right to tell him not to be their that day...this is your family, and you have to protect them physically and emotionally however you can.

    By Blogger jayfersgirl, at Mon Sep 17, 01:21:00 PM  

  • Wow. That is certainly opening up your heart and your mind.

    I think you ask some good questions - for which there are no easy answers. People are all different, and they handle things differently in certain situations.

    I seriously doubt the woman which the child suffering from leukemia has not had a "down" day in the last year and a half.

    By Blogger RWA, at Mon Sep 17, 02:15:00 PM  

  • Hi F&D!

    I really really really hope everything turns out ok with your child's surgery. I too have often remarked on what you wrote about in this post.

    I wanted to just also pop in a quick note to thank you for following my blog all these many many months. You did a very Christian thing encouraging me and helping me and giving me advice as I tried to find a wife and get married.

    It made a big difference in my life. You must be an extraordinary person to be able to help people throughout cyberspace!

    I have finished my blog. But I will pop in from time to time just to say hi. BEST OF LUCK in the future! And I hope hope hope everything works out ok with your surgery.

    Your friend in cyberspace,


    By Blogger guygm, at Mon Sep 17, 08:00:00 PM  

  • P.S. You were one of the first ones to visit my blog so you and Ched are like my best blog buddies.

    By Blogger guygm, at Mon Sep 17, 08:00:00 PM  

  • Proverbs 25:20

    Singing cheerful songs to a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing someone's jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in a wound.

    By Blogger Sarah, at Mon Sep 17, 09:09:00 PM  

  • Oh, the comments of others can really sting. Vent away! That's what this forum is great for.

    By Blogger Jen M., at Tue Sep 18, 01:43:00 AM  

  • I am just so sorry you are going through any of this.
    I hate it when people point out someone whose pain should be worse than yours, as if that is a comfort. So her child had leukemia...that is tragic and heartbreaking...but how does that lessen your pain?
    I remember after my miscarriage, a friend asked me how I was doing. His father had just passed away from brain cancer. I said that I shouldn't even be talking about loss to him, with all he was going through. He told me, that pain was pain. We are all dealing with what is on our plates. He said that his pain was not lesser or greater than mine. It was one of the most comforting things anyone has ever said to me.
    The words you have written about- struggling with faith and the things well-meaning Christians say, really hit home with me. My step-father passed away 3 months ago. The things people say just astounded me. Other Christians especially. Holy moly. I received the words of most compassion and understanding from our non-Christian friends and even strangers.
    It is ok to be afraid. That doesn't mean you don't have faith. It means you love your daughter. You and your family are in my prayers.

    By Anonymous mel from freak parade, at Tue Sep 18, 02:21:00 AM  

  • I have so many thoughts running through my head right now. Just thinking about what you are going through is tearing me up. I hope that I can articulate what I am thinking.

    Webster's dictionary says faith is...: (1) firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust.

    Having faith in God doesn't make you not worry, it doesn't make your mind stop working, it doesn't make all your problems go away, it doesn't make your heart not ache for what your precious daughter is going through.

    Having faith is trusting and believing that God has Lindley in His ever loving care. You are exuding faith.

    Before Jon's 3 surgeries I prayed every day that God would protect him from harm. I also prayed for every person who came in contact with him. From housekeeping to the "big guy" doing his surgery. I prayed that they were in the best of health, well rested, happy, compassionate, etc.

    Like many others I am praying for you and especially for Lindley. I will be here to rejoice with you or weep with you. Sometimes those even go to together!

    By Blogger Mary Fran, at Tue Sep 18, 09:20:00 PM  

  • Aww... Mary Fran..
    you're such a love!

    By Blogger Terri@SteelMagnolia, at Wed Sep 19, 04:45:00 PM  

  • Only an ignorant and crass Christian will hold against any one their lack of faith for their misfortunes.
    Even Jesus told his disciples when he was asked of an unfortunate man that it was not the man's or his parents' sins that was the cause of the man's misfortune.
    Of course you worry and worry is natural when some one close and dear to you is to undergo high risk procedures.
    However there are productive worries and non-productive worries. If I am afraid of flying and because of that worry, I spend time searching for the most reliable airline, then it is a productive worry. A non-productive worry just ties you up into knots and freezes you in place.
    In this case I'll worry about making sure that the kid does not suffer too much during the post operative care and making sure that the nurses don't slip up in any medication and making sure that there is no chance of developing secondary infection.

    Here's hoping and praying for the best outcome.

    By Blogger Random Thinker, at Thu Sep 20, 03:32:00 PM  

  • Faith....

    Hmmm. I just wish you father in law would leave you alone.

    We can choose our spouses - but not the inlaws.

    Believe in yourself.

    By Blogger Ryan, at Fri Sep 21, 09:33:00 PM  

  • Vent away, love. You're entitled. Thinking of you daily! xo and sending prayers.

    By Blogger Ann(ie), at Sun Sep 23, 10:59:00 PM  

  • I'm doing a bible study called "Get Out Of That Pit" by Beth Moore. You might want to check it out. I love Beth!!!!

    You need a staple gun for that FIL of yours;)

    By Blogger EE, at Thu Sep 27, 09:59:00 PM  

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