Monday, November 04, 2013

Questioning My Faith

I don't often say much about my belief system because I know that it can be a touchy subject. What I want to say right up front today is that while my belief is in God, I want this post to apply to all faiths and belief systems. We are all one in my opinion, if only in that we have loved ones with schizophrenia and we are all filled with doubt and wondering more often than we care to talk about.

Last year at this time, Thomas was fresh out of the hospital on a very low and very useless dose of Risperdal. He was quite sick and completely in denial about his illness. I had talked to him on the way home from his second hospitalization and I told him that the doctors said he had schizophrenia and he stared straight ahead saying nothing. I asked him if he knew what that meant and he said that he didn't. I then asked him if he wanted me to tell him a little about it and he agreed to listen.

Then, there it was, the moment in which I had to start explaining to him the realities of his shiny new diagnosis. He listened intently as I told him that it was a serious lifelong illness and that what that meant for him is that he would have times where he would be quite sick but that there would also be times where he would be functioning quite well. It was one of THE HARDEST talks I have ever had to have with him. We talked a lot about the symptoms that make up schizophrenia and what symptoms he was showing and I looked over at him as I drove and he seemed to be taking it in ok. As the conversation died down, as it inevitably always does, I looked to the sky in front of my car and I silently asked God why this was happening to my sweet boy who has such a good heart and didn't deserve this.

So many things had been happening in my life at that point. My dad had had a serious stroke just a couple months before and my mom followed that with a serious mental breakdown not to mention prior to all of that my beautiful niece who has serious Bipolar disorder had attempted suicide and darn near succeeded. Now, my only child had one of (and I would argue, THE WORST) diagnosis that could be given to a young man in his prime. I had every reason to look to the heavens and question, "why me, why my family?"

What I came away with was not an anger at God but more a wonderment about what He had in store for the future. Deep down inside I knew He wasn't done with my family yet and I had every reason in the world to turn away from my faith and place blame on His plan for me but instead I made a different choice.

One thing I knew for sure was that life now was completely out of my control. I couldn't take away Thomas' schizophrenia, I couldn't restore my dad's brain to it's former beautiful glory, I couldn't bring peace to my mom and I certainly couldn't save my niece's life. The one thing I could turn to was trying to understand God's plan in my life.

My response to all of that was that certainly, in amongst all of the heartbreaking things that were happening, there must be something good happening. So, I began my daily hunt for the light in the darkness. I was surprised as I practiced this how many truly wonderful things were happening all around me. Sometimes in the darkest hours all I could see was the bird in my backyard singing it's song or that the stars above were amazing dots of light shining for millions of years. They were small things and yet so very big. They were reminders that, yes, there are good things all around us even in our darkest hour.

While outwardly to my sister and my close friends I would say things like: "SERIOUSLY God? You're going to throw that at me NOW?" it was more a cry out in despair, not in a loss of faith in what was meant for me and my life. So, did I question my faith? Did I collapse in defeat because of the onslaught of injustices that were being thrown my way? No, instead I chose, yes, it had to be a choice, to find the blessings in each day, the light in the darkest hours. To me, there was no other choice. With all that was happening, and it's true for all things in life, I had a CHOICE to make and I chose my faith and kept walking into my future.

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