Grace Michaelson

Who Owns the Bad Stuff?

Sep
14

As I was writing in my journal last night, I began to realize that what I was writing was the beginning of a good blogpost.  It is, in fact, a truth that people struggle with all. the. time.  Who takes ownership when bad things happen to good people?  Some of us take ownership ourselves.  Some of us try to make God own it.  Some of us force the ownership on other people.  Sometimes the ownership does belong to ourselves or other people.  Like if a person steals from you, then ownership belongs to the person who took from you. If you’re late too work too many times and you get yourself fired, then the ownership belongs to you.  What I’m talking about here, though, is about bad things that happen because we live in a world that is broken because Adam & Eve chose to break it when they ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Bad things that no one can own–like a natural disaster, a death of a desperately wanted baby, or; like in my case, the injury of an innocent baby that left a child scarred for life.

Let me tell you Caleb’s story:

Caleb is now 16 years old.  He is well-adjusted, smart as a whip, and dreams big dream.  He doesn’t let anything stop him.  He believes he can do anything anyone else can do.  He has a Totally Involved Left Sided Obstetrical Brachial Plexus Injury.  What that means is that he has paralysis in his left arm and part of the left side of his face (Horner’s Syndrome), and it happened during his birth (Obstetrical verses Traumatic).

I remember his birth as clearly as it was yesterday:

There came a moment when the doctor said, “Uh-oh, we have a problem!”

Michael remembers looking down at Caleb and seeing that his head and neck were out, his cord was rapped around his neck, and that the cord was white because it was pinched off and not giving Caleb the life-giving fluid he needed to get through the rest of his birth.

The nurse called, “Code Pink!”, and the room filled with more people than I could even count.

Some were up on the gurney with me, some were holding my legs.  The doctor had three minutes to get my son out before he passed away.  Nurses were pushing on my belly.  I was screaming in pain, even though I had an epidural.  My husband was bending over me trying to calm me down.

I kept screaming, “God please help Caleb.  Don’t let my Caleb die!”

Then the two and a half minutes were done.  He was out.  No sound came from my baby.  His first Apgar scores were so low.  Then came a soft cry and I knew he was alive.  The neonatal doctor came over to my bed and leaned over with Caleb in his arms.

“I have to take him, but here he is.  There is something wrong with his face and arms.  Otherwise, we think he’ll make it,” He said, then he was gone.

I turned to Michael and said, “Go!  Go with him.”

I was left wondering what had happened, shivering from loss of blood, and my body broken.  Later I found out that I would need extensive surgery to repair my pelvic floor.  So who owns this tragedy?  I could blame the doctor, and yet my son is alive because of her quick thinking.  The truth is I spent a long while after Caleb’s birth blaming God.  How could He allow such a bad thing happen to an innocent baby?  I slowly came around to the truth that God was not to blame.  The truth is that He was instrumental in delivering my son from his death, or even brain damage due to oxygen starvation, or Cerebral Palsy, or many other possibilities that could have come out of a birth like that.  God, when allowing bad things to happen to His servants, always puts boundaries around those bad things.

Then I turned my attention to myself.  I blamed my body.  It became apparent that I had never dilated to a full 10.  Doctor’s could never explain why, saying only that I must have had a “man-like” pelvis.  So I told myself that I had injured Caleb.  I told myself I somehow controlled my womb and my pelvis and it was my fault.  Do you see how silly I was?  I had no control over this situation.  Only last month I finally found out the exact truth of why Caleb was injured.  Through the advancement of the last 16 years, we have a new CT method that shows a clearer picture.  They were able to see my pelvis and womb and found that I have both a tilt and a heart shape uterus, making it impossible for me to ever be able to dilate to 10.  The truth is, that if Joshua my oldest, had been only a few ounces bigger, he too would have been injured or possibly would have died at birth.  God, instead of doing something bad to our family, did many good things.  He has allowed our children to be alive and only allowed the worst to be a disabled arm that doesn’t even stop Caleb from doing anything he wants to do.

I would love to be able to assign blame for every bad thing that happens to me.  It feels like closure.  It feels then like it has purpose.  The truth is, though, as I have worked through the realization that there is no ownership to be given to anyone in the case of Caleb’s injury, I have also come to realize that there is no less purpose in bad situations that happen to people where ownership can’t be established.  Things that happen to us find their purpose when we allow God to do His thing in us.  That’s when the tragedies of our lives start to become purposeful and have true meaning–when God makes them into something for His glory and honor.

The Bible says that our world is broken and waiting for the renewal of creation.  Romans 8:18-22 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”  Someday God will fix His creation and there will be no more of this brokenness and sorry.  We can look forward to that day.  Until that day, we can find solace in knowing that we can trust God to give purpose to the things that don’t seem to make sense or that no one can own.  Bad things just happen to good people sometimes.  That’s just the world we live in.  That’s why we look to the future.

Revelations 21:3-4, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

 

Grief, How Angry Thou Art

Feb
23

What is grief?  What grief in it’s raw, real, natural state?  Does it just happen when someone dies?  No, I don’t think so.  Grief is loss.  Loss happens with all kinds of stages in life.

What does grief feel like?  For me it feels like a sob stuck in my chest.  It feels like the worst anger I have ever felt.  It feels like betrayal.  It feels like helplessness.  It feels like chaos.  For someone who is a type A personality like myself, grief is the last thing I want to experience.  Therefore, it is the one experience I must let myself experience and complete in order to stay healthy.  I can’t be the best mom to my kids or the best wife to my husband, or the best writer unless I allow myself to process grief.

I am going to lay myself bare here:  I am currently grieving.  As I write this article, my son is going through an experience that is totally grieving my heart.  I feel helpless to help him.  It is the last thing I wanted for his senior year of high school.  He is supposed to be enjoying his last year of high school, making friends, looking forward to his senior prom, graduation, making plans for college, dreaming for his future, making good grades.  Instead, we’re trying to fit all those things around a huge health problem.  This is not what any good mother wants for their child.  Therefore grief.

I think what has hit me hardest of all has been anger.  What happened to “do not let the sun go down on your anger”, Dear Grief?  Haven’t you heard of that?  You’re making me into a very bad Christian, do you know that, Dear Grief?  Wow.  Everytime I go through grief, the anger, and the intincity of the anger, surprises me.  Yet, this too is normal.  This too is the process.  This too must be allowed and must be owned.  It’s not owned as who I am, but as something that is OK to experience as part of grief.  The more I fight it, the less I will be.  I can’t stop grieving until I’ve allowed myself to be angry that I have lost that which I expected to keep.  

It’s OK Christian brother or sister, God can handle your anger.  He knows your angry anyway.  Trying to trick yourself so that you hopefully trick God is like trying to trick your mom that you didn’t eat the cookie when you were little.  Just calm down the mind games and admit it.  Your feeling anger and it’s OK.  That doesn’t make you a bad Christian.  It just makes you human.  Remember, Jesus felt anger, too.  He was grieved by the way his Father’s Temple was used for bartering and he took a whip and beat the crap out of everyone and overturned tables while being very angry.  God considers his son perfect and without blame.  Yet, his son was angry and grieved.  Interesting.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that, I’m learning through grief that I am not my feelings.  I am learning that anger is not something to be scared of, but part of the process to health.  I am learning that grief is probably one of the most painful things I will ever experience, but one of the things that I have to let run its course.  If I try to pretend I’m done with it before it’s finished, or if I try to stuff it, or if I try to impede its progress in anyway I can kiss my mental or physical or even spiritual health good bye until I allow the grief process its due process.  Therefore, to all my grieving partners, carry on.  This too shall pass, but let it pass…leave no pebble unturned.