My entire life I have performed to define my self worth, to gain the acceptance of others and to be loved by God.
I found it very difficult to accept that I was good enough and lovable just for being me.
I believed that if I acted the right way, lived a certain way and did enough for God, then my life would turn out the way I wanted it to and He would clear the path for me on Easy Street.
It’s a naive way of living, I know. I’m not sure when or why I started believing I had some sort of superpower to control God. Nonetheless, I believed my actions and prayers got God to do things I wanted.
My need for control—and eventual realization of my lack thereof—has caused an overwhelming amount of fear and anxiety. In order to keep bad things from happening, I tried to do all the right Christian things to keep God on my side. It might have made me look good on the outside, but I was a mess on the inside.
When my son, Jacob, died, I ultimately blamed God for it.
Most parents who have lost a child are angry to some degree. But in comparing myself to my wife, Brea, my anger has lasted much longer and negatively affected my relationship with God. I’ve thought a lot about why I’ve been so angry and I believe it comes down to this:
1. Life did not turn out the way I wanted it to.
2. God was not who I thought He was.
In both instances, I couldn’t control the uncontrollable.
Although, my life is blessed in many ways, it has been much harder than I wanted it to be. Experiencing my life out of control was paralyzing and I felt totally helpless.
Jacob’s accident totally devastated me and there was nothing I could do to fix or change it. For the first time, I was experiencing the utterly chaotic random brutality that life can be.
I feel like I’ve been in a fight with God for the last five years. I’ve been fighting against the injustice of our son dying and fighting against the reality of living in a world where suffering occurs even to the innocent. This was not a fight I chose, but it wasn’t one I was willing to walk away from without giving it everything I had.
It has taken years but I have, ironically, found that I’m thankful to find out God isn’t who I thought He was. It may have been a painful journey to get to this realization, but I’m thankful I don’t have the same theology I did before. I no longer believe God caused or orchestrated the events that led to Jacob’s accident.
For the last five years my emotions toward God could have been described as angry, feeling abandoned, disgusted, apathetic and desperate.
I hope one day I replace all of those with feelings of peace, love and trust.
All along, there has been a sliver of hope inside me that I would one day be able to not only say but actually believe in my heart that God is not against me.
I want to believe that God has been with me throughout the last five years holding me and my family together. That He’s been crying every tear with me, that He’s been yelling up at the sky with me and that He too feels the pain of Jacob’s absence.
This is the God who I have hope in and the one I believe loves me even in the midst of the doubts I still have.
Each day I work on shedding this hard shell of bitterness and cynicism I built to protect myself. I’m living in a space between faith and doubt that feels wider than the universe.
My hope is that the gap between God and I is closed each day by finding Him in the people I love, in the awe and beauty of nature and the mysterious tug at my heart that says, “I’m right here.”
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared at thisjasonjones.com.