After burying my fourth friend, the fourth victim of suicide, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. I grew up in church, knowing and believing that God is in control. He is love. He is good. But after so much loss, those truths begin to hollow out. That is, until I decided to do something about it.
After Thanksgiving break in 2013, I came back to school angry. I walked out of classes, walked out of worship. I couldn’t sing about God’s love and mercy. I knew these truths. But I also knew what had happened. I couldn’t ignore it. These people were so distraught that they felt no safety, no love in this world. How could God stay silent? So I left worship and found myself in the stairwell, crying the heaviest tears of my life. Then I went outside to the back alley to scream at my Father. But I couldn’t do it.
In that moment, I felt the grief of my Lord.
“My child, do you really think you grieve this loss more than I do? They are my children. They are my creation. They are of me. Do you truly think you have the capacity to be more merciful than me?” No. I don’t. I am just lost, God. I don’t have theology for this. And after that moment, I felt the weight fall off me with one simple instruction from God: “Then find it.”
I decided I was going to let my tears cleanse me, rather than let them derail my trajectory. I started my Christian Literature class as a broken vessel, with no strength to find the glue. But one book changed it all.
The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, carved open my eyes to the mercy of God in the context of loss. I found freedom in the truth. Over the semester, I fell in love with the writing and literary interpretation of the God I’ve known forever. In that class, I wrote a paper that changed my life. It was entitled, ‘Misplaced Mercy;’ a confession of my clumsy journey through death and pain. Somewhere in the middle of that semester, I decided that I needed to go further. I had to learn the truth more deeply. I had to interact with it on a graduate level. So I found a masters program at Houston Baptist University. I am now studying Cultural Apologetics, the application of faith through the imagination (books, music, movies, art, etc.).
My studies don't replace the sovereignty of God. He is, above all, the source of my peace and the rescuer of my soul. No amount of knowledge or theology can replace the steadfastness or reality of His love in my life. My human eyes simply needed a medium of seeking Him that was constructive. My tears can now cleanse me. They don't have to erode a mote around my pain and hold me captive. I've found a way back to freedom. At least for now, until I lose my focus again. Luckily, He is patient.
I don’t know what will come of this degree. I don’t know if my career will be shaped around it. But God told me to find my theology through my pain. Now, I can remove the emotion, put the truth in place, and re-apply the emotion so that it is applicable and productive. Now, despite my lack of answers, I can say with confidence that the truth of my God is enough. I don’t need pity, and I don’t need to wear my story on my sleeve. I simply wanted to be free. I do not live without pain, anxiety, depression, or grief. I live with them every day. Only now, I can see the Kingdom clearly and I have the freedom to say, “It is well.”
- Naø, You The Few