**Trigger warning: cancer, sexual abuse, expletive**
A beloved family member, our “rock”, has stage 4 cancer. It sucks. I hate cancer. I have a dear friend who recently challenged me through tears to “not allow yourself to go numb” in the process. She also journeyed through cancer with a loved one, and did go numb. She shared that it was a mistake. I realized as she shared that I was so angry about the cancer that I had started giving God the silent treatment. I would sing to Him, I would pray to Him, but I wouldn’t look at Him and fix my gaze in honest intimacy and worship anymore. I couldn’t, and I didn’t know how to step closer to Him. So, I muttered, “I am giving you the silent treatment, and I don’t know how to stop. I am pissed off that you let cancer into our lives again.”
This morning, He kept reminding me of something that transpired recently. We moved to the Eastern part of the US, and it was a very spiritually dark transition. I went to a job interview one evening, and as the two people came in to interview me, they sat perpendicular to me in folding chairs, blocking the only exit out of the room. I was initially surprised at the forceful rage it produced in me. I rejected their insulting offer, and left politely, controlled, yet very firmly. That night, the flashbacks began. I thought I had grieved all of the humiliations from my first marriage already.
I was wrong.
For 13 years, the final memory of his horror was buried deep. Now, the memory of a drugged drink at a party, the three males; two sitting in chairs to “watch” from the Living Room doorway… the humiliation of that night, all came back to me. I remember sobbing the next day with James as I shared everything. We pulled over, exited the car, and I sobbed like a baby under a tree. My questions were running rampant. “God, what the #$@%? Why am I remembering this NOW? WHY?!”
I cried on and off that entire day, wracked with disbelief. I kept praying/yelling at God, asking Him what good could possibly come out of this memory now. That night, I had a dream where I was carrying my grief over the memory. In the dream, I was walking around on a winding path, sometimes overcome with my grief. I would sob, regain composure, and walk a little further until I was overcome again. Eventually, the path took me closer and closer to a hill. Our of the corner of my eye, I caught a graphic glimpse of a naked man. I shielded my eyes and turned away, continuing to walk and grieve. Again, in the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a graphically naked man. Again, I diverted my eyes and covered that side of my face. I walked on, and a third time, it happened again. I was embarrassed that I had to keep diverting my eyes, and realized that Father God was next to me, and had been walking next to me the whole time. I was even more embarrassed, and He asked me why. I explained, “Father, I am trying to simply grieve, and keep my eyes pure. Why are you allowing this graphically naked man to be here in my eye sight?”
He replied, “Child, no one realizes that my son was graphically humiliated and put on display. He was willing to be humiliated graphically so you would not grieve alone.”
Since admitting that I have been giving God the silent treatment, I have been getting these memories of that dream, and me diverting my eyes. I keep feeling the near-ness of YHWH as I walked the pathway of grief in my dream.
Whether or not I am able to talk to Him, there is no denying that He literally endured Hell so He could have proximity to me in my grief and humiliations.
I am learning that proximity doesn’t depend on vocalizations; it just requires a willingness on my part to allow Him to be near me. Some of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced are the ones with loved ones when we have simply stood or sat silently in proximity to one another. This is the season where I treasure the proximity of my grief companion more than ever… without needing to say a word, or when I do.