Twelve years ago, my daughter was born with complex congenital heart disease.
This is sort of a blanket diagnosis doctors give because it is more politically correct than saying, “This ticker’s a hot mess,” which, when it comes right down to it, was the truth of her situation. Most folks, I imagine, while watching their newborn struggle for life, might run in one of two directions—either towards God, or away from God.
I would expect that even the atheist would turn a thought or two on God while watching the vitals monitor record every heartbeat, flash changes in the blood-oxygen saturation level, beep with every fluctuation in blood pressure, temperature and breaths per minute. The intricate dance the different organs do with one another is more wild than anything ever witnessed on Dancing With The Stars. I didn’t realize it then, but I had turned away from God.
After my daughter had her last open heart surgery, I began writing a book for her—a book about what it’s been like to be her dad; how wonderful and awful it has been; how I’d change many things, and yet can’t imagine anything different.
I also thought it would be a perfect book for other parents whose children face death…the situation not only turns your world on its head, but also shakes bits of sanity out of you like loose change from your pockets.
You see and hear the change fall and scatter, yet all you can do is let it happen. You convince yourself that no one can possibly understand what you’re going through, all the while you desperately search for someone who does understand. While writing, I found myself reliving many emotions until I finally needed a break.
I shelved the project for a few weeks, and when I returned to it and read the rough drafts I noticed something unexpected. Every chapter ended with some thoughts on God and faith; questioning, doubting, feeling angry. And, boy, was I angry.
How did I not notice this anger for nearly ten years?
Once I recognized it was there, I noticed a nagging feeling, a betrayal, a sadness and desperation. I realized I had questions; questions that I just didn’t bother asking for nearly a decade. The short of it all was that I was bitter and angry for what my daughter has faced in this life.
I wanted to know why. The doctors had no explanation. Her condition “just happened.” But it didn’t just happen; it happened to my baby. I wasn’t comfortable with it all being due to random chance, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea that God intended (or perhaps allowed) her condition to happen.
When I realized that this was how I truly felt, I began to ask all sorts of questions on faith—questions that led to ever more questions, snowballing into something huge, heavy, and overwhelming.
That’s where this story begins.
I imagine there will be people who get offended by the random thoughts I publish here, but my hope is that I can connect with folks who, like me, have more questions than answers.