Friday, December 18, 2009

Faith when you don't feel like it

This is Robbie.

It has been a long time since I have felt like blogging, and I still don't really feel like it, but I wanted to check in. It has been hard for me to write here because I'm never really the one who has direct updates about Jake. I have been toying with the idea of starting my own blog, but that has not materialized yet. So to work myself back into this blog, I'll just give you an update on myself as I am getting ready to go home for Christmas break.

This entire semester, the theme for me has been learning to live my own life again. I wanted so badly to not go to school, to stay home with my family, to help Jacob recover, to take a year off, to transfer... something. Slowly I have come more to terms with graduating from Biola. I have felt more and more 'empowered' to pursue my life apart from my family. A number of things helped in this, and overall there is still this strong urge to get out and do something else, to not get away from the feeling of being trapped at Biola.... but I am prayerfully exploring where this urge comes from.

After I began this process, I began to do some reflecting. Looking at my brother's situation from this new vantage point, where I am OK with not being a large part of his recovery and am OK to be away from my family as they go through this, it is as if I had to go through the grieving process all over again. I look at pictures of my brother before the accident and find it insane that he will never be the same. I look at pictures of him with his friends, hear stories of them, and realize that his relationships with them will never be the same. He is missing out on the bonding experience of his senior year of high school, and there is a huge difference between feeling sympathy for someone and actually sticking with them to the end. Very few people make the cut for this second type.

It is like the questions all flooded in again. Seeing an older picture of Jacob - comparing his former life to his life know - feels like there is a knife inside of me that is forcing its way out. Perhaps the only way to get past this is to focus on his life ahead - to focus on progression, and consider the past only in reference to what we have been through, not what we want to change. Immediately after the accident, I would have these weird dreams, and then throughout the days imagine myself watching Jacob's accident from a high vantage point, like I was some spirit hovering over it. Even though I saw it and strongly wanted to stop it, I was restrained. I got this sense that I could not stop it - not just that I did no have the ability to stop it, but that even if I did, it was useless. What happened happened, and what happened brought us to where we are now. There is no use ruminating about how things could have been - there is only accepting how things are and moving forward with a sense that everything has led up to you being at this point, now.

In the face of disillusionment, struggle, heartache, etc, the question is not if you feel like trusting God, but if you make the choice to. Right now, I do not feel like trusting God. There are too many questions and too many struggles to say that I want to trust God. This semester I took Modern Philosophy, and from that sprung some philosophical questions about God's existence. Philosophically, you cannot prove or disprove divine existence. You can offer convincing or unconvincing arguments in either direction. Many philosophers in the past have merely used God as a tool to explain some facet of their epistemological system. Whatever roles man puts God in, whatever reasons we offer for his existence or non-existence, it still all comes down to a choice to trust or not to. I just finished writing a paper for Ancient Political Philosophy, where I argued that true allegiance, true loyalty, does not involve just being persuaded to follow, but involves an entrusting of oneself to the authority - that yes we have reasons to obey, but true loyalty means we are also willing to obey even when there is no clarity, and reasons are not apparent. Is this blind obedience? Maybe. But how can we be truly loyal if we only obey when we can see the reasons and the way ahead? Yes, it is important to be convinced and for authority to have reasons for obedience... but there is always that moment of trust when we are exposed as loyal to ourselves or loyal to him whom we claim to obey.

All that is meant to say that yes, we must be persuaded with reasons to have faith, reasons to believe in a God, reasons to trust in the Spirit of Christ and what he did 2000 years ago as a man... but there will always be a level of uncertainty. There is a necessity to trust in the midst of murky waters and confusing, insufficient answers.

There I go again, nothing related to Jacob! I am looking forward to being home with the family. My brother's life and vitality is the only thing on my Christmas list this year (not so sure that Santa could pull that one off), and I am trusting that this gift has been given and will continue to be given.


Carol said...

Robbie - Please continue to post. You have discussed some relevant ideas, not only with what's going on with your brother, but relevant to issues Christian's struggle with. Today's post really hit home with me. You said, "......but there will always be a level of uncertainty. There is a necessity to trust in the midst of murky waters and confusing, insufficient answers." This is profound, more than you know. I have been a Christian for 13 years, participated in a number of mission trips, spent a year sending missionaries overseas, yet I still find myself going through periods of 'uncertainty' as you call it.

I can go on and on, but I will stop with this: keep posting Robbie - you have some amazing insights and you are affecting people whether you know it or not.

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Robbie -

I agree with Carol - please keep posting. Your insights are amazing. Many times you have deeper and more profound insights than I do!!!

Things are forever changed for you and your family. No one can deny that. But I've discovered that just because your life is on a different path than you expected doesn't make it good or bad. It's just unexpected and different. Down the road aways you may even discover that your life is richer and better because of the experiences you've had this summer.

I know it's hard to trust God. I've been there. But keep your heart open and soft. Remain teachable.

Thank you for being vulnerable and open here. God is using you, even if you don't see it.


Anonymous said...

I have read your family's compelling blog since early July, at times sobbing at my monitor.

I am not even close to being a Christian and absolutely detest blind dogma parroting in any form. So, I skip a lot of your quoted scripture and prayer. As much as I ultimately believe in their power, they aren't powerful to ME.

Robbie, I so appreciate your sensitive questioning, which is natural for your age AND natural for the circumstances in which your family finds itself. Please continue with your intelligence and honesty!

I have had a severely burned brother, who survived those injuries but who turned to drugs and alcohol to dull his physical and spiritual pain. He eventually died from the effects of those addictions.

Eric Maisel talks about "meaning making" as being what humans do. However you can make meaning and whatever framework(s) you hold it in are valid to me.

Carry on with your unbelievable work and words.

If you want to know who (like me) is out there reading, but not necessarily responding, hook up your blog site to Google Analytics!

Kari Harlan said...

Robbie, I read about your family although I don't know them, I have a facebook friend that led me to find you. Keep your honesty and perseverance. You're a great brother and man. It's okay to grieve the loss of your "old" brother while you embrace the new one. And it's okay to share what's on your heart. The parts that relate to Jacob and those that don't. I hope 2010 has blessing in store for you. Much love, Kari