Thoughts On Faith
As I have written about a lot over the past month or so my mother has been rather ill. (In all honesty, her health has been declining since October.) Her most recent hospitalization began on June 5th and ended on Jun 22nd when she (reluctantly) went to a rehab facility where we hoped she would get stronger. Like many people she hated it. She started to have difficulty breathing (even with oxygen) and was sent back to the hospital on June 28th. She had been in rehab for less than a week when she went back to the hospital where was diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis. This past month has been an exhausting roller coaster ride of her being near death and then popping back up and being relatively healthy. It sounds crazy but it's true! (I don't think I'd believe it if I hadn't been living it)
I have received several calls from the hospital where I was told that she was near death. This past Wednesday afternoon was one of those times. So on Thursday I drove down to meet with some of the doctors to discuss treatment with them (and with my mom if she was able to participate) and ostensibly sign her up for in hospital hospice care.
It should NOT have been surprised that despite what I had been told earlier that morning that when I saw her just before noon that she was doing relatively well. Yes, she was weak, but she was very coherent. When three medical professionals came in to talk about her treatment and I think they were rather surprised at how alert she was. Although she had some difficulty with words and hearing (no surprise with all the background noise and having oxygen tubes up her nose and a bipap mask over her face), she was a very active participant in the conversation.
We discussed treatment options and we discussed comfort options. One of the treatments that I thought my mother would not want to do she said she would like to try if it would prolong her life. Her statement was: "I want to live. I'm afraid to die."
Who isn't afraid to die? Death is a scary thing. It's unknown. That's frightening as hell. But what my mother was afraid of, or at least what she said she was afraid of, was not necessarily unknown but her fear that she would not go to heaven. (Something that I would never have considered) She stated that she feared that she was not a good enough person and that God would not accept her
I've known my mother for over 50 years. Like just about everyone on this planet she has done some good things and she has done some bad things. No one on this planet is perfect. We all do "bad". We all do "good." In general, I feel that for the most part we try to do more good than bad. (We can all think of historical figures who have done more bad than good, but that's not the path I'm taking with this post today.)
My mom want to speak to a friend on the phone who is a retired pastor. Unfortunately we were not able to reach her at the time. I left a message. Then I decided that as a "good Christian" (heck, as a good human being) I could do pastoral care even if I wasn't ordained. After all I have taken the pulpit at my church several times. I may not be ordained, but as layperson who has served on the all of the major boards and committees, I think I know a little bit about comfort.
If I have to be honest, I don't know if I believe in heaven. I've never really thought about what comes after life. What I do believe is that while we are here (on this planet), we should try to be "good" people. By that I mean we should try to help our fellow man. We should do what we can to make this world a better place. We should comfort those who need comfort...and when we ourselves need help we should be unashamed to ask for it and receive it
It was on that note that I spoke to my mother. I said the following:
I am not an ordained minister or pastor. What I am and what you help me grow up to be is a Christian. As a Christian I believe that God loves all of us no matter what.
One of my favorite phrases is when a minister says "you are a precious child of God." Mom you are a precious child of God. I truly believe that God loves you and everyone no matter what. God knows that you are human. God knows that you will do stupid things. God knows that you will do dumb things. God knows that you may do mean or bad things. But God still loves you.
God is a mother/father. I know that you as my mother would never turn me away if I did something wrong. No matter what I did good or bad I know that you would welcome me back into your house and into your heart with open arms. You have never stopped loving me. You will never stop loving me. And that's what God is. God is our mother/father, loving us no matter what. God always welcomes us. God never turns away from us. God is there for all.
God will not reject you. God is there to listen even if we don't hear God's answer.
I can't tell you not to be afraid. I don't know what happens after death. But I have faith that God is here for all. Do not be afraid of God. Know that you are loved just as I love you.
That's what I believe. That's what I shared with my mother. I think it brought her some comfort. (I know that the call that she received from her friend/retired pastor a half hour later did.) Writing this and thinking about it has brought me comfort. If you need it, perhaps it will bring you comfort as well.
Have faith; trust in God (or whatever you want to call the higher power). Know that you are loved...no matter what.