Sometimes you have to just ask God ‘why?’ | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | October 30, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: October 26, 2016 at 12:10 pm

Due to illness, family obligations, and a little storm called Matthew, Widdle and I have been backsliders lately.
That’s right: We missed church for four weeks, literally a month of Sundays.
Widdle Baby is faithful; if he doesn’t make it to church, he feels guilty all day. I eat pancakes and get over it, because God knows I’d be there if I could. If I’m not, He understands. Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself to ease my conscience. (In college I did attend every week, but I had a lot more to confess back then.)
Widdle is a Methodist. I’m a third-generation Episcopalian. We attend his church for several reasons, primarily because it’s a block from the house. I suspect I’m like millions of other Baby Boomers: I go to church, try to love my neighbor, and I pray.
But I also doubt.
First, the praying part:
Sometimes I pray for the strength to accept His will.
Sometimes I pray from a heart overflowing with thankfulness.
Sometimes I pray in a hot bath drinking a cold glass of … water. Let’s just say water.
Sometimes I pray on my hands and knees, like I’m about to throw up.
Sometimes I hang upside down on our inversion table, stretch out my arms and pray aloud.
Sometimes I pray with tears flowing, because how could a loving God allow the horrors that we see every day?
Sometimes I pray perfunctorily, like, “Hey, Boo.”
Sometimes I pray with my hands clenched into fists.
Sometimes I pray as a plea: “Show me what to do, what to say, how to be.”
Sometimes I pray only for grace, from a broken place that can ask for nothing more.
Now, about that doubt: For many years, I didn’t doubt. I didn’t always understand God’s plan, but I didn’t question it. It’s how I was raised. When my father died, I praised God for ending his pain. I didn’t think, “This good man got a raw deal and died way too young.” It was God’s will, end of story.
Then, about a year ago, I read about Scotty McMillan, a red-headed toddler with a tremulous smile. In 2014 his mother and her boyfriend allegedly hung him upside down and, for three days, beat him with a piece of aluminum, a curtain rod and a frying pan. Emergency room nurses wept over his dead, broken body.
When children are afraid or hurt, they cry for Mommy to protect them. Who did Scotty cry for as his mother murdered him? Was it the God who promised refuge to all children? Or the Jesus who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me”?
As a former crime reporter, I know how people can hurt each other. But nothing ever affected me like Scotty McMillan. When I tearfully asked my husband why God allowed this, he said, “I don’t know.” When I asked a wise old man I greatly respect, he said, “I don’t know.”
I asked one other person who said, “I don’t know, but Scotty’s in heaven now,” which I believe to be true, but why did a three-year-old have to endure 36 hours of **** to see Jesus?
The suspects have not come to trial, but the DA is determined to see justice done.  I’m keeping up with this tragic story —and I’ll be in church Sunday. I’ll sing and smile and pass the peace… knowing that God still accepts me — tears, doubts and all.

(Julie R. Smith, who may start drinking martinis in the tub, can be reached at

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