Why Ask Why? Touching the Depths in the Valley of Suck


Kids ask it all the time when they do not get what they want.  It is one of the most basic questions for learning.  At times, it will also eat away at your soul.

"Why?" doesn't fit easily into any of the Dr. Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief ( denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), but if it fits anywhere, I think it tends to fit at anger.  In my journey through the valley of suck (before, during, and after the death of my wife from colon cancer), I have not really dealt with "why."

Those who have been through the valley know these five stages are not easy to track.  They are not stages that go "step 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5." They hit you coming and going and they will take advantage of everyday life.  Sometimes it feels like a Three Stooges skit.  Grief is always Moe, to our Larry and Curly, you never know if grief will pull your nose, poke your eyes or kick you in the rear.

But "Why?" hit me, not surprisingly, at the "happiest place on earth."  One of my wife's wishes had been to go to Orlando before our kids both finished High School.  We did it this past week but on the day we went to the Magic Kingdom I came to the place of asking "Why?"

Oh, nothing was Disney's fault.  It was just the reality of seeing families being together.  I'm sure there were other single parents around but I never saw them or it didn't register.  We made the best of it for sure, it was a good day in the end but the nagging question finally came...

Why God?

I've noted before that I've wrestled with God throughout this journey.  I have been angry at God and let God have it many days.  So what brought it out now?

I think, maybe, I got to the end of things.  At the moment the contrast of my life was most stark - all the moments when Heather SHOULD have been with us and was not - the wall I was trying to hold up - crashed.

But there is no answer to "Why God?"  I knew this to be the case which is what led me to fight against it all this time.  We live life and in living, we all face the same things - those who are good and those who are evil.  It is not lightly that Jesus says, "God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45)  If you read the context, it is in regards to our facing persecution for our faith but it points to the larger truth we all will face difficulties.  The question is: will we face difficulties with faith or without faith?

From what I have observed, we will face a "Why God?" time in our lives; most likely, it will even be more than once.  Like building muscles, these times provide resistance to our faith; they cause us to "push back" or "stretch ourselves" and thus, stretch our faith and trust in God.

We keep finding ways to get out of straining ourselves in life, though, haven't we?  We're so innovative in coming up with automation and robotics to do the "heavy lifting" of our lives.  We laugh at the humans in the movie "Wall-E" for how they can do nothing on their own, yet we are moving in that very direction.  But when it comes to faith - our spirituality - the condition of our souls - there is no automation.  There is life and there is death.

So why is it we don't ask God more often about life rather than death?  Why do you not wake up and ask - "Why God?" when you get to live another day?  Or after you make it through another day..."Why God?" What do you have in store next?

I'll tell you why: you and I take health and life for granted.  We care about it less because we have the luxury of taking it for granted.  But the truth is, you can't - not really - death is always there.  For some "Why God?" is a silly question altogether because faith and spirituality seem pointless.  Asking "why?" even seems silly, and I would agree...to a point.

This is why I fought it.  Call it a practice of "practical atheism" maybe - I never believed there was going to be an answer given.  I didn't get one when I asked it this week and I do not expect to get one.  But I needed to ask it anyway if only to take the next step in living.

"Why?"  Because we are living beings and in this world, living things die.  Call that being a "practical biologist" or a "practical human" even.  Asking "why" leads to conclusions and, hopefully, more questions.  These are the questions which lead me back to being a "practical spiritualist," that there is something far more noble in the inner journey of the world's religions.

Please don't take this to mean I am a universalist for I am far from that.  It is simply my observation that the majority of human beings are wondering "why" about a great many things which leads them to seek after the divine and the spiritual.  My observation is when we ask "Why God" in relationship to the death of a person who we love unconditionally, we may find ourselves as close as we may ever get to the bottom, to the place we can truly know mercy.

I have no idea if any of this makes sense to you, my friend.  If you leave with anything, I hope it is this: Go ahead and ask "Why God?"  BUT, fight it as long as you must for when you come to the place of asking it, you have earned it.  You may not get an answer, in fact, I suspect you won't.  What I hope you find is what I have have found - a place to stop; maybe the bottom; maybe just a place to catch your breath.  And when you have found this, you have found mercy in the valley of suck.

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