Sunday, June 7, 2015

Why are you here?

In November of 2011, a week after my wife and I had lost our baby less than 24 hours after his birth I was sitting in church. It was a rough time. I was barely holding it together most of the time. I ducked into the bathroom so that I could cry in semi-private between classes.

To tell you the truth, this was the one and only time that I can remember feeling abandoned. I know that I wasn't. But my emotions were so out of control, and so intense that I couldn't feel the spirit. I couldn't feel someone listening on the other end of my prayers. I felt alone. I felt a lot of other things too. Sorrow. Grief. Anguish. But what I wanted to feel was the comfort of the holy spirit. Something that I was and am use to feeling on a regular basis.

Instead, I felt like I was locked in an echo chamber of my heart. I tried to pour out my soul, but all I could hear was my grief and pain in my ears. It was the single worst time of my life. I hope never to experience this type of pain again.

But I'm getting off track. I was sitting in church. And one of my friends came over and asked me a question. He asked, "Why are you here?" Well he started with, "Wow, you and your family have just gone through hell. If anyone is staying home from church it should be you. Why are you here?"

And he was right. I was in great pain. My family was all in great pain. If we had a living new born baby, I would probably have been home taking care of the new mom and baby. And no one expected me to teach a class or perform any of the tasks that lay members of my church perform.  Everyone, including me, would have felt I was completely justified in staying home. I don't think even God would have held it against me. Its not like I was feeling the spirit or anything by being there. I was just numb.

And he was wrong. I was damaged. Spiritually damaged. I needed to get as close to places where the spirit was strong so that I could heal. I had no intention of trying to lead my family through their grief and pain without the guidance of the holy spirit. What could I have achieved by staying home? Getting used to feeling numb? Not a real solution for me. I rely on the guidance of the Lord through his holy spirit just for normal husband and father stuff. I was way over my head without it. And so avoiding anything that was going to help me heal spiritually was just not an option.

I had to choke out an answer. And then blink back the tears. I said, "Where else can I go?" He understood, and those around us understood. When you need the healing balm of Jesus applied to your soul, there are few better places to start than to go to church.

I'd love to say that after this angels came and brought my son back to life. Or that I became endowed with great wisdom. Or that my wife and I were able to conceive and have another child. None of these things happened.

What did happen is that after a few weeks of plodding on I suddenly realized that it was back. The spirit was back. I cried again. It wasn't odd during this time, but for a different reason that most of the others. I was no longer alone.

When I read in the Bible the account of the crucifixion, and I read the words that the savior speaks when the Father withdraws his spirit from Jesus. And he cries out, "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" My heart breaks for him. This never touched me as it does now.

Not that my small pain of loss was anything like the atonement. But it was all that I could bear. And not that my unworthiness of heaven's blessing is anything like Jesus's perfection befor the Father. But in a small way, my heart is recognizing the feeling of aloneness.

And in a small way, I understand the atonement a little better.

I love Jesus. And I love my son Freddie. And I can't wait to be reunited with them again.

When I think what might have happened if I had stayed home. If I had turned from God and never gone back. Would anyone blame me? Probably not. But how much I could have lost if I had just stayed home. It makes my heart ache for my friends that have let themselves get lazy about their faith. Or some that have just turned away to explore some other path.

I want to shout, "Hey, come back. You're going the wrong way!"

So I write my witness this day. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that he loves me. I have felt his love and I know that it is true and has the power to make the pains of this world bearable. And it makes the joys of this world sweeter. And in the end, we can return to him. I know this is true. I have felt it and know it just as I know there is a sun and moon and stars in the sky. I feel it in just as sure a way as I can feel when the wind blows on my face. And even though I can't share my experience of seeing the stars or feeling the wind. I can invite you to join me and feel it for yourself.

Or if you felt it before. To invite you to feel it again.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. May God bless you.


  1. Thanks Roy. That's one more thing we have in common. God bless you on this difficult journey.

    1. I remember not knowing how or what to say about Ford. This is not a club I wish either of us had joined. God knows that both of us are stronger that we wish we were when it comes to things like this.