From my journal dated October 5, 2002:
Janice M. stopped by the other day before heading up to Whistler for a few days with their son and three of Jason’s other friends. The last time they went up skiing Jason went with them. She told us she is concerned that a lot of the “kids” still haven’t dealt with Jason’s and Alina’s deaths.
I talked to Jenna some about that today. She said that she is aware that she hasn’t dealt with Jason’s death, either, and that she distracts herself from dealing with it by staying busy with school, work, dance. I guess I see it as a good sign that she’s aware that she does it. I guess I do the same thing to some extent…I just don’t have as much to keep me busy. I don’t know how to deal with it, so I just keep on walking and doing what I know how to do.
Jenna’s theory is this: Christians don’t handle bad around them as well as non-Christians. She said that Christians feel like no bad should happen to them and that they should always be happy. They don’t know what to do when something horrendous like Jason’s and Alina’s deaths happen. They have to mostly ignore it. She said non-Christians are more used to bad things happening so they are better equipped and less afraid to deal with it.
Maybe her perception comes from the lack of support from Christians we know or the fact that non-Christians have done more (like arranging the Westin getaway), said more compassionate things to us now and then, or avoided us less when they see us. The Christians we know have caused her a lot of heartache on top of Jason’s death. It’s no wonder she’s questioning her faith.
I know there’s a general feeling that Christians put on a “show” sometimes that everything is okay even if it’s not…and that Christians sometimes shoot their wounded. We don’t want people to know we struggle…we don’t want to be judged for a lack of faith. We get tired of other people struggling…can’t they just move on already?
But Christians shouldn’t be so insulated from the world or things that happen here, within the Christian community, should we? Should we be so insulated from how things affect people, both Christian and non-Christian, that we are impotent when “bad” things happen? We don’t know what to do so we ignore it…and them.
If we expect God to heal the hearts of the grieving and brokenhearted (especially when it’s over an extended period of time) and that lets us off the hook, then what are we here for?? If we stand back and adopt the attitude that it’s all up to God and we aren’t really required to do anything to meet the needs of the grieving and brokenhearted, then what good are we to this hurting world? If God is supposed to take care of it all, then He wouldn’t need us to witness, to pray for others, to feed the poor, to help the hurting. He wouldn’t need us for anything!
Do we think of the “mission field” – of those needing help or ministry – as some far off land where we probably will never go? Those poor people over there somewhere. What about those within our acquaintance and sphere of influence that we are supposed to be helping…those we have the ability to help if we only made the time? What about those right in our line of sight who are bent over with burdens or grief? Who comes along side of them and holds up their hands until the battle is won?
Are we so concerned, as Christians, about insulating ourselves and our families against the influence of the world that we are no influence in it?? Are we so focused on making sure we are blessed – that God is helping us, protecting us, guiding us, whatever we want Him to do for us – that we are ignoring those around us? Are we so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good, as the saying goes?
This whole lack of support thing has bothered me, and I have struggled with it a lot. I have felt abandoned and alone. But it bothers me a whole lot more to see how it’s affected my family – Joe, Jenna, Eric. It’s like a physical pain to see my family hurting. It bothers me when Debra* proudly tells me how her daughter used Jason’s death as a platform for speaking on a youth mission trip…and yet the daughter (who has known Jenna since they were 1) does nothing for my precious daughter. I hate to see Eric (who hasn’t been to church in a long time) reaching out to a Christian mentor…only to have a “too busy” schedule take precedence.
Oh, God! Forgive me when I’ve responded that way. Help me to remember, to notice, to act, to help! I don’t want to be like that any more.