Anne LaMott

I went to two Memorial Services last week. One was for Tom Swift who died from complications of ALS. You can read a commentary I wrote about him here: I also attended a service for Dean Bush who lived homeless, was hit by two cars and was caught under a third and dragged several miles.

Then on Monday morning, Aimee Buchanan a 44-year-old Presbyterian minister, died from complications from the flu. Her death has stunned everyone including myself. Here is an article published in the Asheville Citizen-Times about her. All three deaths have affected me greatly.

I began thinking of all the folks I know who’ve died from brain injuries or who have many more challenges than I do because of them. Why did God save me and not them? I asked myself. Of course these thoughts snowballed and I could feel myself spiraling into depression. In rehab, I learned how my emotions tend to snowball and the best way to handle this is to have a behavioral approach. I have to say to myself loud and clear, “STOP.” If I catch it early enough, it works.

A wise friend wrote me an email reminding me that the question, “Why her and not me?” has no answer. Evil is real and it is random in nature. We don’t know why but the best we can do is to live our lives working for peace and justice which honors God as well as honoring the concerns of our loved ones who have died. I’ve learned I can waste a lot of time when I let myself spiral into depression. This time, I’m not going to let it happen.

In her book, “Help, Thanks, Wow” Anne Lamott writes

“There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing. This is where restoration can begin, because when you’re still in the state of trying to fix the unfixable, everything bad is engaged…..It’s exhausting, crazy-making.”

Before one reaches this place, however, one must not be afraid to cry out to God. Today I pulled out the Psalms and looked at Psalm 13 which begins, “How long, God? Will you forget us forever? How long will you hide your face from us?” (I changed the “me” to “us” because there are many, many folks struggling right along with me) This is my- our – question exactly. Why did God let this happen? Why did God let me sustain a brain injury? Where in the world is God anyway?

Rev. Steve Goyer, a pastor in Atlanta, dealt with many of these same questions after his wife died from sustaining a TBI in a car accident in 2001. In the first sermon he preached after her death, he shared the following from Peter DeVries book The Blood of the Lamb.

“The main character of the book loses his daughter to leukemia. On the day of her death someone had left him a cream pie which he was carrying when he found himself standing before a crucifix outside the church next to the hospital.”
He looked into the eyes of the crucified Christ hanging on the cross, cursed his name, and flung the pie squarely into the face of Christ. He stood there defiantly thinking, ‘Take that you SOB!’ Christ did. Christ took it, and then giant tears began streaming out of those holy broken eyes of that Christ causing the whipped cream to slide down his face.”

This is the Christ I know. Through the tears of Christ, through my tears, through all of our tears, we can reach out to Jesus and Jesus will help us stand. Although I’m getting close to reaching the place that LaMott calls the “great unknowing where restoration can begin,” I’m not there yet. And that’s okay. Christ is crying with me and with us all until we do get there. And we will get there.

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