It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged.
About 3 weeks.
Here’s what happened:
Week 1- crazy busy with school work and reading.
Week 2- went away for the weekend to run the Disney Princess half-marathon (more on that later).
Week 3- my friend, Jeaneen, passed away.
On Tuesday, February 28th, Jeaneen passed away. After 11 months of fighting cancer, she finished the race, and God called her home. When I was a lowly little college freshman that didn’t know her head from her tail, Jeaneen took me under her wing. She always listened to my juvenile problems. Jeaneen was one of those people who manage to empathize with you while telling you to suck it up. It’s a rare gift that I thoroughly appreciate. Jeaneen had grace and an incredible amount of strength. Though she would swear that she wasn’t, Jeaneen was the Proverbs 31 woman that good Christian girls strive to be, but never are. (My theory on the Proverbs 31 woman is that the more you try to be like her, the more you fail at being her. ) Jeaneen loved and mothered me when I was still figuring this whole Christianity thing out. Most importantly, she helped me cope with Savannah’s death.
Almost four years ago, my friend, Savannah passed away. Savannah was only 17 years old when she died, and when I found out she had gone, I felt as though all the happiness had been sucked out of the world. It has only been in this last year and a half that I’ve stopped expecting Savannah to walk through the door and for my life to hop back on the correct track. When you lose someone as suddenly as we lost Savannah, you feel as though you’re living in an alternate timeline. All you need is for the person you lost to step back into your life and set things straight.
A few weeks pass.
And they don’t.
Maybe a year or two or four passes.
You realize that they really are gone.
Jeaneen was the one who sat out my tears without looking uncomfortable. She was the one who let me sit in silence without judging. When I needed Jeaneen, she was never that far away.
One thing I didn’t share with Jeaneen was the fact that after Savannah died, I made a little deal with God. Well, less of a deal with God and more of a “me sitting God down and having a stern talking to with him.” Basically what I told God was, “Ok, listen. I lost Savannah. I’ll live through that. I’ll trust you and I’ll accept this. I won’t get angry with you, but I don’t lose anymore friends, got it? That doesn’t happen to me anymore. Once was enough.”
So when Jeaneen got sick, I thought everything was going to be fine.
God and I had a deal.
A couple of months went by and Jeaneen’s treatment was going well. I got updates every couple of weeks and she seemed to be doing fine during her chemo. I prayed often and thought that soon I would hear that she was cancer free. Everything was going to be fine.
Until they weren’t.
Jeaneen took a turn for the worse.
And then she passed away.
But God and I had a deal.
I’m not allowed to lose anymore friends.
That’s not freakin’ fair.
I’m 23. My friends aren’t supposed to die.
On Tuesday I started grading papers to keep my mind off of things. I did homework and looked through some possible thesis books. On Wednesday I emailed professors to let them know I might miss class. I told people at work, went home early, and slept. On Thursday I sorted out time off at work. I went for a run, graded some more papers, got depressed, went shopping, and then studied for a midterm.
During those three days I told God, “I’m ok. This is fine. I trust you. Everything’s going to be ok. I’m not going to break. I know your way is sovereign.”
On Friday I finally made eye contact with God and said, “No. I can’t do this. I’m really, really angry with you.”
Perhaps that last sentence shocks some of you.
Others may be saying, “See, I knew she was evil.”
However, there comes a time when you have to choose between putting on a brave face for God or being ugly and human.
I choose ugly.
Right now I’m in a very weird place. I’m stuck between wanting to run into my God’s arms and wanting to do all that I can to hurt him. Remember, I’m not supposed to lose anymore friends. I’m terribly angry and terribly hurt. I want to make God take it back and give me back Jeaneen.
I miss my friend.
What you are probably realizing now is that my faith is weak and my understanding mean. While I am holding tightly to what I know, the ugly in me is lashing out at God. I know Jeaneen is with God. Absent from the body is present with the Lord, but my ugly is too mad to find any sort of comfort from that. This place between faith and anger paralyzes me to the point where being in church makes me want to spit, but I long to be with God every second of the day. I want his voice to give me an answer. If not an answer, then at least a faith that is stronger than the one I have. I want my heart to say, “It is well” and mean it.
By writing this I may be breaking the number one rule in the “How to Be a Good Christian” manual: do not admit the things you’re currently STRUGGLING with. We prefer the past tense. Typically you admit the things you’ve STRUGGLED with. When you give your testimony you tack on the happy Jesus filled ending that lets the audience know “c’est fini.” It’s finished! You no longer struggle! Well, I’m in the struggle. I don’t have a happy ending for this one yet. I may serve a beautiful Lord, but he never said life was gonna be pretty. Right now I’m trying to make sense of this, and I can’t.
Right now, all I know to be true is that Jeaneen got her happy ending.
Yes, she died.
Yes, she was young.
Yes, she shouldn’t have gone the way she did.
Yes, her family is heartbroken.
No, I’m not saying that death is a good thing. I am not saying that death is a happy, bunny rabbits and marshmallow peeps type of occasion.
What I’m saying is that I honestly believe that what I believe is honestly true.
Absent from the body is present with that Lord.
I can’t find comfort in that yet.
But I know Jeaneen does.