if you read to the end of this post, you get two bonuses… an original song of mine, and a worship cover
I haven’t written as much lately. We’ve had a shaky last 18 months, and I’ve felt… well, unrested.
But not in an “I’m really tired” way. It’s been more of an anxiousness.
When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, I had this misplaced pride in the “fact” I never got stressed. Of course it wasn’t true, but as I look back at it, there was something to it. I had an average middle class set of issues, and of course I felt them all with the depth a young musician does. Since I was 15 years old, though, I’ve rested in my faith in God. Circumstances sometimes sucked, but I believed, deeply, I was loved by God. At the core of me, I knew joy and peace.
And I grew up, and my sons died. Two of them, in one year, 2010. I married a beautiful and ferociously caring woman, I watched her find herself as a mother, and I watched that ripped from her hands while neither of us could do a thing about it.
So my questions got bigger and scarier, and affected who I was in a deeper way. For a couple years, I just drifted, I think stunned that this had happened. Charley was hooked up to a bunch of tubes for the first year of his life, and it was hard for me to connect to him emotionally even the year after that.
I never lost my anchor of this core thought of God being real, and us all being loved by Him, personally, including me. I’m sure the line attaching me to that anchor grew taut, though, as I floated around. An anchored boat can still drift; just not as far.
The last 18 months. We’d gotten to a point we were starting to feel we could be happy again, and we were excited, in 2013 and 2014. We adopted Charles, and he joined us in October of 2014. But it was a mess. Charles had a hard and unfair life. And a lot of that came out when he was in our home, and not in a therapeutic, “let’s work out our crap” kind of way. It tore all of us up even more, and neither Charles nor ourselves ever felt peace at home. Since June of last year, he’s been in a residential treatment facility. I talk to him often, and visited him recently.
Getting to the point where Charles left was hell on all of us. Home wasn’t peaceful. It was tense, dangerous, and we were all dialed to 11 all the time. Making the decision to have Charles move where he is now was hard, but absolutely the right decision.
There was some PTSD involved there, and we were… shaky. Shaken? Our foundation felt less strong, and we were tired. Through that, we started a new business, which didn’t really go in the direction we hoped. Life felt shaky. People told us we were strong, heroes, inspirational, but we were broken and hurting. I noticed both Robyn and I were constantly anxious and tense. Because we were so physically consumed by everything going on, we felt we’d lost much of our community.
To today. Or, this week. I’ve been thinking about that confidence I felt as a younger man, in God’s love. The rest I felt in knowing that. In Matthew 11:28, we’re told “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I read a great talk by Charles Spurgeon on this passage. He mentions this rest is a rest of many things – rest of the conscience, rest of the heart, rest of the soul, rest of the entire being. I’d forgotten this, or at least I’d left that rest. I’d allowed the core of me to be unrested, and I don’t mean in the positive way that drives you to change terrible or unjust things. I mean in the way that makes you feel unsure of your direction, of whether the heart of it all is good, and of whether the point of it all carries worth.
I wrote the song below in 2008, with some help from Larry Wiezycki. This week, I’ve been listening to it and working to restore a core of rest. I still am incensed by injustice – I hope more now than ever before. I am even more passionate about the work we are doing, and driven to push it further and faster. But I used to do all that centered in peace, sure of my direction, precise and driven. I’m re-building that.
Today, I found a video from shortly after Ezra died, of me singing at church with a vulnerable and long intro at the beginning. It’s below. I’d encourage you to watch it, at least the talk. I meant the words I said, of God being our strength and joy. Of finding rest in the fact He calls us sons and daughters. There’s a lot of peace there as you research it.
I don’t understand why my sons died. I don’t understand why my wife must carry that, in a way even deeper than I do. Or why our fourth son is forced to carry the weight he does, and the effects it had on all of us. But I want to remain in that peace that I had for so long, and I need to say that. I need to put time into it, and I need to point my family to that same place.
I am more skeptical of so much now that I have seen more of the tragedy in the world, and how terribly all of us broken people treat each other. But I’d like to be less jaded. I’d like to keep seeing that you’re just like me, wanting peace and rest, and wanting to stand against anything that takes those away from anyone. I’d like to be more genuine and dogged in my search of God’s heart. I’d like to be more intentional again about building our community. None of this is good without caring, passionate people around you. And I think, like the Great Gatsby, I’d like to be known as the single most hopeful person you’ve ever met. I’m tired of anything else.
Beautiful, powerful song. I remember that moment in church. Second time it has brought tears. God Bless you and your family.
Good words Kyle. I don’t understand why we have to experience so much pain either. We have had a challenging 7 years as well (nothing compared to your loss) but I am with you and your family in the curiosity and wondering of the whys of life. Thankful for your transparency and vulnerability. My prayers are with you.
And mine with you and yours. I know when things are hard, finding that rest and remembering to be purposeful about building our community has been great for me.
I was one of the extended community of prayer warriors, kneeling before God on behalf of you, your wife and your son Ezra when he was fighting for his life. Ezra’s death rocked my faith, but not in the same way it rocked yours. I’m sure. Mine was to come…
Last year, we lost our son. In the second trimester. We were devastated. We had four healthy children, Never even a miscarriage before. It made no sense to me. We named him Ezra, too. In honor of your Ezra, and on behalf of the prophet/author of 2 Esdras. I highly recommend poring over that book (in the Apocrypha. My NRSV has the Apocryphal books, but most Protestant Bibles do not). This Ezra went before God with the same agonizing questions, and was granted Divine audience. 2 Esdras details what he saw and heard.
It didn’t solve the problem of death and suffering for me, but it helped me to know that so many faithful have wrestled with the same questions.
After losing our Ezra, I went to Seminary. And was metaphorically crucified. Then we lost another pregnancy… We’ve been living in our own version of hell. But I believe that there is a Divine purpose in allowing such suffering into our lives. An Eternal purpose. One that we finite folks struggle to see from our place in time and space. Much love to you and yours. I still keep you in my prayers whenever the Spirit brings you to mind.
I think of your family often- you’ve always had a special place in my heart from the moment I became aware of you and particularly what you were walking through in 2010. My family adopted two children, both older than me, who came from abuse and neglect of every kind. I was two, they were almost 6 and 7. I have one biological sister who was 9 at the time. The impact on our family has left a lifetime of challenging situations, difficult relationship dynamics, but joys and triumphs that are still unfolding over time. I didn’t know much about your personal circumstance since 2013, but knowing you adopted an older child, and reading your posts, left me aware enough to know to pray for you all. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I love your honesty. Your great love for one another as a couple. The desire you have to keep reaching forward and searching for purpose, value and hope… No matter what the circumstances. Your transparency is appreciated and refreshingly authentic. Thank you for sharing- and updating us.
I just spent the last 2 1/2 hours reading your posts , I was originally googling 3F8 as my friends grandaughter Natalie is fighting for her life with Neuroblastoma in a hospital in New York . I cried most of the time as I read your posts. This disease is horrid and I’m so sorry for your loss.I too feel like I had a glimpse of knowing your son Ezra a beautiful boy . But I couldn’t help seeing the similarity of treatments and protocols that are mirroring Natalie’s and I’m left with a question to ask you . Would you have done it this way again if you had too or would you have done anything different ? I am looking into your organization and passing that info on to my friend as well. Thankyou for posting it was a lot to process though I’m not gonna lie …. In Christs Love Diane