I have spent a great deal of time wrestling with God, not physically like this scripture suggests but mentally and spiritually. The "whys" and the "hows" of Taylor's death have haunted me, and I suspect they will again. Nevertheless, I wanted to try to convey what I think I have been given as I have wrestled with my faith and my God who has continued to hold me up when I have offered nothing, at times, but a furious heart.
Evil walks into all our lives, but why? Scripture tells us that "the prayers of a righteous man availeth much". Naturally, one of my first conclusions was - "I wasn't good enough." However, that flies in the face of "For it is by grace that we have been saved and not by works that no man should boast." Then you wonder, "Could this have been God's will? Was she only meant to spend twenty years on this earth?" I suppose the answer to those questions could be 'yes', but that answer left my heart restless. As followers of Christ, God gives us the "desires of our heart" and he offers us a "peace that surpasses all understanding". The answer could not be yes and let me have peace. Moreover, one of the precepts of my faith allows for we, as followers, to practice our free will. He doesn't force our obedience; he asks for it. God wants us to willingly give it. If her death was predetermined, her free will would be limited. Still, He is omniscient and all-powerful. He had to have known this would happen. Why would he allow it?
This is just part of the circular conversation God and I have had. Largely, I do the talking or the screaming in the shower, in the dark hours of the night, in the car by myself, or in the chair beneath the zebra blanket.
Here's where I ended, what I think I have accepted. I offer it only as marker on this journey. I don't know that I am right; I just know I don't wrestle as much with this conclusion.
"All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, for reproof, correcting and training" so there are pieces of all of the questions listed above to which I have to answer 'yes'.
Did God know this would happen? Yes, he did. However, my God is not a cruel God. He didn't take her, but he did allow the wreck to happen because he loves us enough to let us have our choices. It isn't one of Taylor's choices that led to this tragedy. Perhaps it is one of mine. Perhaps it belonged to another believer. One of us had the opportunity to influence a heart that could have influenced the driver of the car. Had we made that decision perhaps the driver's decision to drink and drive would have been different. One of us didn't make that choice. Or maybe, one of us did and the driver chose not to be influenced. We suffer the natural consequences of our choices - the ones we make and the one we fail to make. When we don't use our faith, our influence to share his love, to light this world, we let evil in. Ultimately, the driver is solely responsible for her decision, but we as His children are responsible for her - even if we don't want to be. I can accept that God loves the driver of the car that killed Taylor as much as he loves you and me a great deal more easily than I can accept that Taylor is gone, but I am only human.
God is omniscient and all-powerful. Could he not have stopped this tragedy? Yes - most definitely he could have. However, if he saved us from every evil we embrace, we would not be able to practice our free will. The only way we have choices is by having consequences as well. The only way we see the light is to walk in darkness. The only way we know we walk in darkness is to have seen the light.
I prefer the other world I lived in. The world where I prayed every night for my children's safety and every night I heard the garage door open as they arrived home, I whispered, "Thank you, Lord." I liked those consequences. I want what I used to have. Looking back, struggling to be "content in all things" was so easy before Taylor was killed.
If I could, I would choose not to "know" any of this. I would stay blissfully unaware of the kind of pain other mothers have endured..
I have lived that last 161 days in defiance of the choices in front of me. Yet, as I look back on the last year, I see a loving God that gave me the whole summer of 2013 with my daughter. She was home after tearing her ACL early in June. I see a God who used that injury to introduce Taylor to Liz the physical therapist who would serve Josie in her recovery. I hear a conversation at my aunt's pool when Taylor told me that she was never scared of us as parents. She recounted the fears of her peers and what their parents might do to them if they ever.... and then she offered that she only feared disappointing Joey and I - never what we would do to her. She knew the safest place she could ever be was with us even if she screwed up. Finally, I see Sandi's face when she read what I wrote on December 7th. I wrote about "The Words of Others' and quoted thoughts from a calendar I had been given. I liked the thoughts that were juxtapositioned on December 7th and January 26th. (DEC) "Her heart believed...and she sparkled from head to toe." I thought those words captured Taylor so perfectly. Then January' 26th says, "In hard times she had learned three things- she was stronger than she ever imagined, Jesus was closer than she ever realized, and she was loved more than she ever knew." Sandi looked at me incredulously. Didn't I know the significance of that January date? Isn't that why I wrote it? I was lost and said so. My friend Sandi, the principal of the elementary both my kids attended, my colleague at work, looked at me with glassy eyes and said, "January 26th is Jeff's birthday." Jeff was killed in an accident ten years ago and Sandi has been a pillar and guide for me since she learned Taylor was in ICU.. I was speechless. Those gifts those are from a God who loves us and provides for us even when we are screaming at him.
Some of the most comforting words shared with me were, "God cried too that night." I believe that today. I believe he has been loving us all this time. Do I wish he would have decided to intervene? Yes. Yes. Every. Single. Day.
I choose to see his love, because when my heart remembers the four of us together, I remember whispering, "Thank you, Lord."