Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Received rather than Taken

Sometimes I'm not really sure what I should write about on the blog- I feel like the times that I feel like writing are the times when I am the most upset.  So I hate that all I write is depressing- so please know that I am not so depressing most of the time in real life!  Or at least I hope not....

I went to a grief support group today.  I'm not going to share about the other people in it for their privacy, but the leader said something that really spoke to me today.  She said that we all need to decide whether we believe that God "took" our loved ones or whether God "received" them.

Wow.  What a wake up call.  I have definitely been needing an attitude adjustment recently.  I firmly believe that we are able to choose our attitudes, and honestly I have been choosing a pretty bad one. Little things have been setting me off and making me spiral into a pretty mean and depressed person lately.  Isn't it funny how one small, insignificant remark that someone makes can just ruin your whole day or week?  I have been letting these little comments just take over in my head.

So I choose to believe that God received James into heaven.  I typically get pretty angry when people tell me that "God just needed another angel" or "It was God's plan" or "God knew from the day James was born that he would die on July 16, 2011."  Because in reference to the first response, God doesn't "need" anything.  He is, by definition, God, and needs nothing from us as humans.  Secondly, God didn't need to "take" James to fulfill some worldly plan to promote research or awareness or to make other people value their children.  Those are great things that can come out of James's death, but they aren't the reason why he died.  Thirdly, I just can't believe this one. I'll probably get alot of backlash for this one, and I know I am probably going to tick some people off, but I just don't believe it.  Because if everyone has an expiration date written on them, than what is the point of life? 

(I don't mean to offend anyone about these phrases- and if you have said them, I'm not calling you out.  I would just avoid saying things like this in the future to anyone who has lost a loved one because I think the general consensus from people I have talked to going through this that these sayings tend to do more harm than good.)

My friend Whitney, from high school, recently said (in response to something I wrote) that she wasn't sure whether "Everything happens for a reason" or whether "stuff just happens",  I don't know that answer to that either.  I used to believe that in the end, things worked out the way that they are supposed to.  But I don't know that it was true for James.  I certainly don't know that it is true for children in the Darfur region of Sudan who go to bed hungry and see their parents killed before their eyes.  I don't think its true for people who are murdered or die in car accidents- is that really how things work out in the end?  I don't know.

Maybe because we live in a corrupt world, we all do the best we can until we make it to Heaven.  And God receives us and maybe that's the end that works out.  So maybe the attitude I should have is that In the end, we are reunited with our loved ones.  The parts in between allow us to give light and make the time from when we are united with our Heavenly Father sweeter.  I don't know, just my random thoughts tonight!

 And as always, I know the pictures of James are random.  These were taken at the arboretum in February when James was almost 4 months old.  And the video below was taken when he was a little over 3 months old and he was playing with the piano in his crib.  Gosh, he loved that piano.  He used to kick that thing the entire time I was in the shower- which was great because I could take a shower and he entertained himself!  Please ignore my horrible accent- Oklahoma + Texas = quality entertainment. 

“Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent” Mignon McLaughlin


  1. Well put. I've always been leery of throwing around the phrase "Everything happens for a reason" for the exact reasons that you said here.

    Even Solomon says observed in Ecclesiastes that some bad people lived a long time with everything given to them, while some good people had horrible circumstances and died young. It's not Karma. There's no pattern, and there is no formula. Things just happen sometimes, and they're just not "good."

    But of course, we have hope in Christ...and that changes everything.

    Also - thanks for the healthy reminder of what "not" to say to people who are grieving. It's true we (on this end) all need to be a little more thoughtful and strategic when it comes to saying what we think is the most helpful thing.

    Hang in there - God bless.


  2. Thanks for sharing where you are so openly and honestly. Writing is very therapeutic for most people. Keep it up. Don't let that stuff sit in there and fester.

  3. thank you for posting this, Kara. I love the quote at the bottom and the pics of your beautiful boy! God bless you, prayers....Laurie

  4. Hi Kara,
    I read your blog every day and wonder how you are. I agree with you that those platitudes are not helpful. Nor are they comforting. I am glad that hearing that God has received James rather than took him helps. You are very brave and strong. No one could or would blame you for being mean and feeling angry. You are very lucky to have a strong faith at this time. Thinking of you. xxxx

  5. Kara,
    Like you, I loathe the phrases "Everything happens for a reason" or "It was God's will that (insert bad thing here) happened. I truly don't believe my God makes terrible things happen in our lives. I love the phrase that God has received James, however. What a fabulous homecoming full of giraffes that precious boy must have had! I'm continuing to pray for you and your family. xoxo, Erin

  6. Oh how I love the first picture. There just aren't enough words to describe what a stunning boy James was.
    I too loathe when people suggest bad things were planned and happen for a reason. I believe life is fluid, one moment leads to the next and builds, adapts, changes as we do. Of course who knows why this happened to your sweet James, because not once have I gotten the sense you took him for granted or were ungrateful. Senseless seems too trite a word, but it really is senseless to me.
    And no one could blame you being short, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. We all do the best with what we have.
    As always, you're in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. James is in your future and God has him. Jesus plays with him and, someday, James will judge angels. You are a brave woman, Kara Sikes. A very brave woman

  8. I agree with you. I don't think God knows exactly when something is going to happen and to who. If he did he would essentially be taking away our free will which sort of defeats the purpose of life right? I think he receives people when they are ready to be received and for some reason your James was one of them. He must have been one special boy!

  9. I am not fond of the cliche phrases that often accompany grief and sadness. Sometimes, I think, it's okay to say, yanno what, that was a really crappy thing that happened, it sucks!

    Losing James was a terrible thing, I cannot even begin to imagine how painful life is for you right now. I feel so honored to walk (type?) with you on this journey as you share James with the world. Seeing his crazy hair, the adorable smile and the love that surrounds him always brighten my days when I stop by your blog.

    Always praying for your broken heart and your arms that no doubt ache to cuddle sweet baby James.

  10. Bellismoom -
    Just a clarification...I'm not an expert, but I believe that God DOES know when something is going to happen because He is all-knowing. Nothing surprises Him - ever. However...we live in a fallen world full of death and disease. He ALLOWS this. But he doesn't "kill" people. He does recevie them once they pass on. Just a thought.

  11. Kara, Excellent post and insight. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  12. Hi Kara,
    I know we don't know each other, and I know our situations are very different, but I feel like sometimes you take the words right out of my mouth. I went through a time right after my son died when I was so angry at God. I was angry that he would "take" away my son. But God didn't take my son, and he didn't cause my son to die. I believe that God allows bad things to happen, but I don't think they are his will (and that is one of the comments that I hate too!). God is a loving God and he hurts for us, and he knows what it's like to lose a son. I was talking on the phone to a long time family friend, and she told me something similar to what you learned about your group. And that was a huge turning point for me.

    I think a lot of times people don't know what to say, so they say a lot of cliche things that feel like something they are "supposed" to say. I don't think they do it out of meanness or that they aren't being thoughtful, I think they just really don't know what to say. But, thank you for posting this so that more people know what is helpful for someone grieving the loss of a child! Your family is in my thoughts and prayers constantly

  13. I think the best thing people can say is, "I'm sorry." No matter how true or untrue anything else that someone might say may be. I want to wear a sign that says please just tell me, "I'm sorry and I'm here for you." And mean it :). My prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  14. This reminds me of a song I listened to for 3 hours straight recently. :) (Does anyone else still do this as an adult?) There is so much that we struggle to make sense of that we just can't understand for now. But I love the refrain that we WILL understand and know all about it...just farther along. Of course, the whole song does not apply to everyone's situation, and I have no idea what kind of music you enjoy. But here's a link to the song (you can even own it for free) if you'd like it.


    Here are some of the words, anyway.

    Farther along we’ll know all about it
    Farther along we’ll understand why
    Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
    We’ll understand this, all by and by

    Tempted and tried, I wondered why
    The good man died, the bad man thrives
    And Jesus cries because he loves em’ both
    We’re all cast-aways in need of ropes
    Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope
    In a house of mirrors full of smoke
    Confusing illusions I’ve seen

    And one day when the sky rolls back on us
    Some rejoice and the others fuss
    Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
    That the son of god is forever blessed
    His is the kingdom, we’re the guests
    So put your voice up to the test
    Sing Lord, come soon

    Farther along we’ll know all about it
    Farther along we’ll understand why
    Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
    We’ll understand this, all by and by