Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mediums: Does The Child I Lost Speak Through Them?

Last week I wrote a post about the afterlife. Today I'm continuing the conversation, and I wanted to focus on psychics. This is part of a series, so will not be exhaustive regarding Christianity and loss. 

Again -- heavy topic. Not for everyone. If you aren't Christian, this is going to be a bunch of crazy talk to you. If you aren't ready, this may seem cruel to you. Choose wisely.

It may seem innocent to allow ourselves to believe our children are communicating with us through others who claim to have "gifts" which allow them to communicate with "the other side".

Mediums who make this type of claim have become commonplace. They have their own television shows, write bestsellers, etc. We think of them as a fun diversion. We don't often consciously connect them to the occult, however, they definitely fall into that realm. The Bible clearly speaks about the occult in both the OT and NT-- and they are always spoken of negatively.

Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them."   Leviticus 19:31

That's a bold statement. You will be "defiled". It doesn’t really fit in with our modern attitudes either – who thinks of their fellow humans as “defiled”? Do we even use that word anymore? It's so negative... 

This theme continues into the New Testament:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."   Galatians 5: 19-21

While this seems cliché: when we dip our toes into the stream of mysticism (which communicating with the dead certainly is) the chances of being swept away are much greater than if we had not wandered near the water at all.

We are talking about a presumed relationship with the children we lost, after all. How could we not get swept away when we believe we are communicating with them? 

There is nothing we hunger more deeply for than a connection to our children, but any effort at connection which runs counter to God's promises will always fall short of the connection we receive through the redemptive love of Christ.

We make the decision to pursue after-death theories contrary to His promise because we are attempting to turn the promise into something we have control over. We want to turn our children's absence into something we can manage. We have a difficult time accepting "no" from anyone -- especially a God who has "taken" our child from us.

But does this type of communication make them any less gone?

And how is God's promise honored when we refuse to acknowledge the reality of death?

Death is part of the Christian redemption story. Our entire belief system rests on the truth of the resurrection. The resurrection is meaningless without death. Without it, our religion crumbles and becomes myth. Without death there is no resurrection of the body.

In addition, we will also pass away. Like I detailed in my last post, anything short of heaven means eventual, permanent separation from our children. If we insist our children are still here in the temporal world, we are directly denying the promise of a God who said to the thief on the cross "today you will be with me in paradise". That God promises eternity.... But He promises eternity away from this world.

We also don’t know where/from whom a medium is receiving information from. Because of the power of the internet it would be relatively easy for them to get enough private information about you to make your session seem fruitful…. And that’s the best case scenario – at worst, many teachings indicate that the messages mediums receive are not coming from our lost loved ones, but from supernatural beings who don’t have our best interests at heart.

Last, I can't decline to mention the financial issues involved. The misinformation shared by psychics can be overwhelming to a loss parent. They give us “secret” messages from our babies and help us make the connection we so desperately desire to make with our children. The well of knowledge they share with us could be bottomless -- after all, psychics make a living telling us what we want to hear. The more often we come to them the more lucrative their practice. When they tell us our baby is near and is speaking to us, it is easy to believe this is true, and they hold out the information we seek like a carrot on a stick. We will continue to use our resources to make more visits – resources God has given us to provide for our families and perform acts of charity. Resources we could use to be honoring our babies.

(Psychics also often promote other Counter-Christian practices, which they could encourage us to participate in. The more we open ourselves up to their manipulations the more they will take advantage of our sorrow.... And the farther they will lead us away from trusting in God's plan.)

We are all tempted to look away from the cross. This life seems so long, and the grief is just so deep. 

Just hold on momma. What He's got planned for us is so much better than anything we could imagine ourselves.

Next {and last} portion of this small series will be "All About Angels", about the nature of angels. I'd love to hear what you have to say about this, or any other subject related to grief, child loss, and Christianity.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What Christian Child Loss Moms Need to Remember

{Disclaimer— what I am writing comes after a lot of soul-searching and going through the worst part of the bereavement process.

It's been five years since my daughter died. I have not always felt this way, and in the early stages of my bereavement I was very antagonistic to information like this. Please note that I am not attempting to guilt or push anyone into a premature reconciliation with God when they don’t feel open to this yet. See HERE and HERE for some early (poorly written) posts regarding the anger and mistrust I felt in my initial grieving period. Do not read this if you aren't ready for a conversation about deep theology. Don't read this if you are in a sensitive stage where every comment stings. You may not want to read if you're having a bad day, depending on where you are in your grief and how you practice your faith -- some may find this initially harsh but ultimately very comforting. Some may not.

This is a brutal honesty post. Last warning. }

I've been trying to work out some thoughts about the nature of death for the believer. This is what I've come to understand in the five years since my Beatrix left.

There is a big difference between Christians and others when it comes to the disposition of a soul after death.

While there are different Christian teachings regarding some of what happens immediately after someone dies (purgatory, resting state, etc.), we all believe that our faithful dead eventually end up in Heaven.

Because of this, finding comfort in some of the common themes shared by baby loss writers and artists can be difficult for devout loss moms. Our belief system doesn’t allow us to imagine our child as a butterfly landing on our shoulder, a feather on our doorstep, or a favorite song played at the moment we needed it most. Some Christian faith practices allow for a concept commonly referred to as “God-winks”, the claim being that God is sending these small messages to you. However, that concept is suspect and debatable – and even if your faith practice accepts this concept, the claim is still that God is sending the messages, not our babies.

We also can’t imagine stars opening holes in the heavens so our loved ones shine down on us, we have no belief that our babies become angels (this is actually a belief unheard of by virtually every world religion – angels are separate beings from human in almost all faith practices, Christian and non-Christian alike), and babies aren’t coming back in future pregnancies.

Once our babies are gone they are gone.

So what does Christianity have to offer the grieving mom?

In the immediacy of our initial grief it seems as if we would be left bereft of comfort. Christianity and God seem like heartless realities to those who don't understand them. Often, we are so blinded by our emotions that even we lose sight of the big picture – the picture which gives us a {perfect} antidote to our sadness.

Sometimes we forget that true comfort only comes at the foot of the cross.

The cross promises us tomorrow – eternity – unlike the here and now centered beliefs elucidated above.

The cross promises:

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." {Rev. 21:4}

I read a quote long ago by Pope John Paul II which even non-Catholics could identify with:

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”

Would we give up the forever of Easter, for temporal comfort here?

This is a harsh truth, and it doesn't promise to get any easier over our time on this earth. We may rationalize this love of Christ, but the human part of us just wants our babies.

I know I want my baby back.

But I want her back. I want her back forever. I want her back the way I was promised her -- perfect and alive.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." {Phillipians 3:20}

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." {1 Corinthians 42-44}

While no one must believe this {truth} who chooses not to, for those who do believe it holds more promise for the one thing which every single one of us loss moms want -- time.

While I could believe my daughter to be reincarnated in another pregnancy, doing so binds her in a finite life-cycle. It means she will die again, and this could be during the course of my lifespan, because we aren't promised a limit on suffering.

Reincarnation {her being born in a subsequent pregnancy} means I could lose her all over again.

In this dynamic we could both also be reincarnated into other families, or as a fox, or a fish, or a supernatural spirit, never to see one another again.

It also means I am not promised eternity with God, and in turn, with her.

If she becomes part of the natural world -- a butterfly or a symbol we see in rocks and trees -- she can be destroyed by wind and rains. Something as simple as a bird landing could disrupt whatever form she was in. If she were a star she would eventually burn out; her light would be permanently extinguished, and eventually her absence would be detectable to this world.

Being born into Heaven, even though I must wait to see her, holds the most promise. The promise of Heaven only seems cruel because we must wait to reap the rewards for our faithfulness. We want immediate gratification, but the promise offers eternal gratification.

In 2 Samuel 12: 23, after King David’s son died he stopped his weeping saying, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me”. This is a rough story, but it brings to point the reality of what our God promises. He promises those who have faith in Him an eternity in Heaven. Long after the world stops turning we will be with Him. I do not want my daughter to come to me in this world, because that means the promise is a lie. My daughter in this world means eternity does not exist. It means the Bible promises, the love of Christ, is just another fairy tale.

Because we can’t have it both ways.

God promises us heaven after death, not an amorphous existence hanging around the earth. If this promise is a lie, so is everything else He says.

Our loved ones will not return to us in this world. We will go to them…. and more importantly, to Him. That promise is better than anything this temporal world could ever offer me.

In my next post I will be talking about “Psychics and signs in baby loss”. I hope you join me in that discussion too!

Please leave any thoughts you may have about this post. Respectful dissension is always welcome and encouraged. We only learn by exploring together.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Heaven Is For Real

Over the last five years I have often described my journey with grief as having one foot in Heaven and one on Earth. My faith in Beatrix’s residence there is immutable, and my faith in my Christian belief system is equally strong.

This has made much of my baby-loss journey solitary. The vast number of child grief writers are loss moms themselves, and as such are sensitive to the suffering of newly bereaved mothers. They recall their own dealings with unwelcome religious advice, and because of this most of the more popular bloggers on this subject refrain from making definitive statements about religious practices and death.

We hear vague affirmations of our children becoming angels when they die.

We see images which imply our children are part of the natural world.

We read blog posts about miscarried babies not being ready, and hopefully coming again in a subsequent pregnancy, and we see images of “rainbow” babies wearing clothing implying that they were “chosen” by their sibling in heaven,

These concepts are problematic for those who are Christian because none of them speak about the child-loss experience of the Christian mother.

For the next few weeks, I will be sharing my thoughts on the promises faith has for the grieving mother.

Please join me with comments on how your Christian faith has comforted you. I look forward to hearing from you.

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