By: Chip Carter, MA, LPC
Have you ever had a moment when you know you’re going to relive it, retell it and recite it over and over again? Nowadays, when those moments occur, we bust out our phones to take a picture or video and then post it on all the socials for our world to see.
But back in 2003, the ‘socials’ weren’t around. Unless you count our friend Tom from My Space and now, he’s just a meme himself. So, this retelling has no pictures and no emojis to go along with it. It has just my memories to rely on.
Twenty years ago, I was in my last year of graduate school. I was hopeful and scared about my future as a therapist. At the time, I was convinced I wanted to work in a church setting. I would wear cardigan sweaters and have a wall of books behind me so without saying a word, I would appear smart. I also had a genuine interest in spiritual development, mine, and others, so I helped start an informal chapel service at my school.
One day, I asked one of my fellow students to speak to us. Her name was Donna Davis. I can’t say she was a close friend of mine. She was a little older, a Mom of four, and had recently been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. I remember thinking I wanted us to pray and encourage her, but I also wanted to hear how she was handling her diagnosis and how God was in the mixture of all of this.
Donna was a humble person by nature. I would call her introverted, a devoted Mom who decided in the midst of life to go back to school after her children had reached an age of independence. She was smart, insightful, and strong. And now, she was dealing with the worst diagnosis and outlook. I wanted her to have the floor to say whatever she wanted to say.
That day, when asked by someone her thoughts on God and how she was feeling about Him allowing her to deal with this, she said the following - “God is a God of mystery. We are not supposed to know everything. And I don’t want to worship a God I can figure out.”
She said more than that, but this is what my brain and heart remember. That God, our God, isn’t meant to, nor doesn’t have to explain everything. That we aren’t meant to, nor do we have to, know everything. And we shouldn’t want to worship a holy God that is a paint by numbers deity. Figuring him out would, in itself, lessen His holiness.
This is surrender, and the act of surrendering may be one of the hardest things we humans do.
I have told this story dozens upon dozens of times. In therapy sessions, in one-on-one conversations with friends, in small group settings. I think about it all the time. It has become a bedrock statement for me, and something I rely on often.
Donna lived this faith the rest of her life. Eighteen months later, I attended her funeral, and it was unlike any other service I had experienced. Those four children I mentioned earlier – they led worship during the service. Her husband – he read from his journal entries he made while his wife dealt with such a horrible disease. They all modeled the words Donna spoke that day. They made the choice to worship and honor a God that didn’t provide all the answers here on Earth, and still believed He was good.
Testimonies live on, and Donna’s certainly has. I hope and plan to retell it again and again and again.
Legacy Strategy Blog
Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.