This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Here, Chaya Rainbird shares a snippet of her story.
Grief and faith have both featured in many seasons of my life. Sometimes it feels like a tug-of-war, other times like I’m walking many steps of grief to get to a new “faith landing” where I can look out the windows and see how far I’ve come.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop looking at where I’ve come from. It certainly has shaped me and I’ve seen great healing. But I still carry a lot of grief from it, especially since becoming a parent.
I’m not really sure what to call myself… a child abuse survivor? Abuse doesn’t really describe the pain and grief. Terror, torture and neglect might be more accurate. To have my own parents hurt my body and my mind so greatly, I don’t know if there are even words to describe that. To watch my siblings beaten and starved was another type of torture; my mind screaming that this was wrong, but feeling utterly powerless to help. I’m sure they felt the same when I was on the receiving end of whatever implement my parents had at hand. I sure wondered where God was in those moments.
I will fast forward through my journey. I started going to church when I was 16 and committed my life to the Lord at that time. I had no doubt there was a God, I just didn’t believe he wanted me. But as a relationship is a two-way street, I needed to find out more about Him and in time I felt as though I truly had a father figure. A quiet, gentle, loving father, the opposite of what I had grown up with.
All I wanted in life was a family; a husband, children, in-laws, a community of people who saw me as a person. I am extremely blessed to have those prayers answered. Fred and I have been married over seven years and have three children, a cat and a dog. His family are close and cozy.
But below the surface, the grief and faith battle went on. Becoming a parent brought up repressed memories and self doubt; intense fear of becoming the monster I feared as a child. A miscarriage brought down the faith in my body I had built up. Between my body and my mind, I cried out to God to take what I had been carrying. Everything felt far too heavy and those grief steps seemed steeper than ever.
After the birth of my third child, I suffered a few complications. Within the year I needed a hysterectomy. I felt as though my picket fence dream of having four or five children was shattered and I was angry with God for allowing my parents to have eight children and torture them all, but preventing me from carrying any more, even though they would be loved and cherished. While I recovered from the surgery – eight weeks of light duties, meaning I couldn’t carry my baby, push a pram or carry a shopping basket – I pressed into God and realised God was giving me rest. Rest was something I needed to learn. I have faith there will be more children for us to love and cherish in the future, but right now we are content with the wonderful blessings God has given us. He has trusted us with much.
For a while it seemed I had reached a fantastic faith landing. Then my brother died suddenly, an act of suicide. I felt as though grief had pulled too hard on the tug-of-war rope this time. My mental health took a bad turn and all areas of my life suffered including my marriage, work life and my children no doubt felt the affects. I couldn’t pray in that time, I couldn’t praise, all I could do was cry and wonder numbly if there was anything I could have done. I thank those that uplifted me in prayers in that time. As the pain became a little less fresh I started to call on God, hoping to hear something, but I wanted a quick fix, to see writing on the wall, and often that’s just not how He works.
One day someone asked me how I could have faith in a God who let all of the pain into my life. My answer was simple: because I love God and I trust him.
I have many more grief steps ahead, much learning and many faith landings. But I know God is with me in every step.
Verses that have helped me
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
– Hebrews 4:16
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
– Philippians 4:12
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
– Isaiah 43:1-3
Read more FLAM Faces stories:
Aaron’s story: Bullied and teased to the point of despair.
Anna’s story: “God saved me from a very dark place.”
Oliver’s story: Through war, a new country & unplanned fatherhood.
Noel’s story: “I collapsed and died in the hospital ward.”
Eloise’s story: Confessions of a control freak.
Matt’s story: Indescribable peace in the midst of cancer battle.
Melissa’s story: “I was pregnant with our 3rd child when my husband died.”
Sue’s story: Beyond the brink of anorexia and back.
Karen’s story: “For 13 years after our girls died, I tried hard to have very little to do with God.”
Sarah’s story: “Trusting Jesus with my self worth is a daily decision.”
Emily’s story: Who are you Jesus? (said the Catholic girl)