Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where Are You God?

**Have you ever felt that God just wasn't interested in your problems?
**Have you ever felt God was distant and unaccessible?
**Have you ever thought maybe God is just a myth, because He just doesn't seem to care?

I have.

I am sure that somewhere in the world right now, there are people that:
  • feel alone
  • are scared
  • are unsure of God's existence and love for them
  • can't figure out what God's plan is for them and doubt He even has one
  • hurt
Are you one of them? You are not alone. Others have felt the same way. I know I have and I know my sister, Simone, did while she suffered through horrible cancer for five years.

I remember growing up thinking that God would answer my prayers if I prayed hard enough, believed enough, or did enough good things. But, when I messed up, had little faith, or didn't pray that God wouldn't help me. This childish attitude about God's love for me carried into my adult life, which meant my faith stayed small and misunderstood who God really is and how He loves me. My perception of God was warped and this warped perception made it easy to keep God out of my life. But, some people never gave up on me. One of these was my sister, Simone.

Simone never stopped trying to help me know God's love. She always wanted me to experience at a deep and personal level. Even when she got cancer five years ago it didn't stop her from loving others. Even when it disabled her, she never stopped loving.

But, she also felt far from God through it all. She felt dryness and pain in her emotions, spirit, relationships, and her body.
She threw every question she had at the feet of Christ:
  • where are you?
  • why won' t you take the pain away?
  • do you hear me?
  • are you even there?
  • can't  you make this all stop?
  • don't you care?
  • do you really love me?
  • etc.
My sister, Simone LeJeune, died on November 16.
She knew what it was like to feel distant from God. She also knew what it was like to have God wrap her up in his arms and console her, love her, and heal her.

Simone loved life before she got sick. If you ever met her, you wouldn't forget her. She had a HUGE personality (she made me seem dull). This personality was either loved or hated by others because she could seem overwhelming and loud. You either couldn't get enough or had too much of her at all times.

Simone was one of my heroes. She was a modern-day Mother Teresa. She worked in youth ministry, counseling, social work, and as a special ed. teacher. She worked with the severely disabled, the imprisoned, the elderly and those society gave up on.

About 12 years ago, Simone started working with a group of special-needs children living in a group home. She fell in love with all of them. Matthew was a 2 year-old in the home. He lived there until the caretaker of the home grew very ill and Matthew was going to be put into foster care. Simone knew he would probably bounce from foster-home to foster-home for years, because black toddlers with special needs rarely get adopted. So, she took him in and adopted him herself.

Simone befriended those most would reject. She met an elderly Jewish woman several years ago who lived in her apartment complex. This woman hadn't left her apartment in years, so Simone and Matthew would go visit her, help her clean her apartment and bring her some human comfort. She left her apartment for the first time in years to come to Simone's funeral. This woman was torn apart, because so very few people care about her and she lost one of the few who did.

Simone did retreats in prison for hardened convicts. She would get so excited to see the changes in men who had never known God's love and forgiveness.

Simone would teach a wheelchair-bound child to feed themselves at age 14, when nobody else could seem to break through.

So, what gave her such a passion? She had the belief that God lived in every single person, loved us individually, died on the Cross for our sins, and had no greater desire than to have us love Him back.

The only one she sometimes doubted He loved was herself. In her moments of honesty, which I was blessed to be a part of, she confessed that she sometimes struggled with doubts of God's personal love for her. But, who wouldn't ask tough questions of God when you can't hold down food for months at a time. When your hair falls out. When you are in constant agonizing pain for years. When you felt that some friends and family abandoned you because you got sick. When you lost your job, possessions, independence, etc.

Simone was in many ways like Job. She had everything stripped away until all she had left was faith in God. This faith, lived in love, is what I believe saved Simone. Which is why I have not had too much difficulty in seeing her die.

You see, Simone's prayers have been answered in full. I have full hope that if she isn't already in Heaven, her purification will be short, and she soon will be. Simone suffers no more but answers the questions in the following way:
  • where are you?
    • I have been right here all along.
  • why won' t you take the pain away?
    • I know it hurts, I too have suffered. But, suffering is my way of salvation for you and for many others. Combine your suffering with mine and great good will come of it.
  • do you hear me?
    • Of course I do. I hear all of your cries to me.
  • are you even there?
    • Yes. I am always here for you. When I seem distant I want you to rely on me even more. The feelings of my presence may come and go, but I never will.
  • can't  you make this all stop?
    • I could, but I allow it in order to make you strong. Just as gold if purified through fire, so you are purified through suffering. My love is a burning fire.
  • don't you care?
    • Yes, I care so much that I suffered more than anyone else ever has.
  • do you love me?
    • Yes, more than anything else I have ever created. I love you enough to become one of you. I love you so much that I would suffer and die for you - individually. I love you with a never-ending love and want you to be with me forever.
Simone please pray for us!
To all who read this - please pray for the repose of Simone LeJeune and for her family and friends who miss her.
"Then Job answered the LORD and said: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you." - Job 42: 1-5
"I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody to no one."
-Mother Teresa
I love you Simone!


Amanda Borenstadt said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.
I'm sorry you lost your sister. She sounds like an amazing woman! May God bless you, your family and Simone's soul.

Lori said...

this is beautiful and so incredibly heartfelt. thank you for opening up your heart to share with us...and Simone continues to share Christ through her story even after death...what an amazing person...
and what an amazing person you are! Keep shining that light of

The Ironic Catholic said...

Beautiful. I bet Simone would be proud of this post.

Frank said...

Lord, hear our prayers.

Peggy said...

I recieved a very powerful sign when I had a 'dark night of the soul'. It changed things for me forever. Early in the day of Easter Vigil 2008, I told my mom that I felt God had abandoned me. That night we attended the Easter Vigil Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Arriving early, I seated my mother and went below to look around. I found a large alabastar startue of Mary and decided to light a votive and say a prayer. I went back up stairs only to find out that my mom and I had been selected to bring the gifts up. Granted this is a very populated Mass with dignitaries, political types etc. That we were picked (while I was downstairs in prayer) demonstrated to me that not only was I in God's care always but that He wanted me to participate in His Feast. I hope this gives you comfort during this time Marcel. My prayers for your family are with you!

Ed Sousa, Sr. said...

What a wonderfull post. Thank you so much for sharing this story of your sister. I posted your story on my blogsite which is
God Bless

Faith said...

Love this post. I've been there; done that. I've linked to it, too. Thank you, glad to see I'm not alone.

A'Esquecida said...

I spent the full day in the ER yesterday, w/a skin affliction sent straight from hell.
Having had eximma until I was 13, it was deeply traumatic to see my entire torso covered w/bites of some sort.
As I do animal rescue, & have a feeding station w/winter shelters here @ the farm...&, as we became rat-invested this summer...I deemed to break down all old shelters some weeks ago. This made it very possible that I had mange....& although it could have been fleas, or spider bites, I could not take the chance for the sake of my family.

I spent 8 hours in the ER in abject misery,..wanting to tear my skin off...w/no one there w/me save the Lord, as no one knew I had gone to the hospital ER.

It was a moment w/out God knowing God was there.

Here it is. Part of me KNEW that Jesus wanted me all to Himself in my hour of affliction,...& part of me gravely lamented the complete lack of human companionship.

Ebeth said...

Marcel, this is absolutely beautiful! Your parents must be proud and amazing people people themselves to have such spiritual children!

Peggy, I hear ya, that is a wonderful story, too. Bringing up the gifts at Mass is such an honor. Offering up all the transgressions, pain, and shortcomings along with the thanksgivings of the community to the Lord at His feast.

Our God is truly the most perfect, loving, and mentoring!