The Email


This year I have been doing a internship with the Anglican Church, alongside working for a charity.

During the last intern training day, several weeks before my mum’s death, we were asked to leave an anonymous note in the box at the front saying what we had learnt about God during the internship and what difference the internship had made to us. I wrote something along the lines of, “This year I have seen teenage girls suffer and struggle with abuse, I have sat with people who have tried to kill themselves, and I have known one of them to succeed. I am tired, and I wonder where is God in the midst of this? I joined this year, excited and ready to change the world for God; now I wonder if he even exists.”

I thought the box was anonymous, apparently not. The next week I received a message from the course tutor telling me he was concerned, and would I like to talk?

This was my reply:

Hi Dan,

Thank you, I appreciate it.

I’ve just been accepted for an apprenticeship in administration for a small family business not far from my hometown. My mum’s best friend runs the company and she offered me the job. I’ll be doing an NVQ in admin whilst covering for a girl whose on maternity leave for 12 months, but even though it’s an apprenticeship, they’ll pay me minimum wage.

It’s great because it gives me some financial security of my own for the next 12 months, but it also gives me more time to work out whether I want to pursue ministry or not.

We had a meeting with the doctor last week, who told me the average time between cancer spreading to the brain and death, and we will definitely receive the life insurance which will cover the mortgage, so that’s one less worry. However, my mum doesn’t believe in God and the more time stretches on, the less she reasons like herself and the more I feel that any commitment she makes to God now would not be fair as she is often not in her normal mind. She cries randomly, reasons like she has aspergers, and she can get nasty. It’s not just the emotional effects of cancer, her personality is changing. My Dad isn’t feeling well and is sleeping on the sofa so I am sharing her bed, in case anything should happen in the night, and nearly hourly she sits up, puts the light on and writes. It’s really weird, but I can’t reason with her.

2 years ago, I prayed that God would make sure someone would be with my Nan when she lost consciousness before dying. She wasn’t particularly ill, but being in the city, I thought it a good idea. She died of pneumonia the night I went back to the city, being robbed by a drug addict. If that’s what happened with my Nan’s death, I don’t feel I can trust him with my Mum’s death.

I already struggled to trust him because of the girls I’d worked with who had such a rubbish ride; some were abused or raped as children, and several tried to kill themselves. One of my friend’s died of a heroin overdose in February. If God is all-loving and all-powerful, how could he watch these children and young people suffer and not make himself obvious to them? How could he watch as those Korean school children drowned? It’s horrific to imagine what drowning would feel like to a frightened teenager and yet that’s how God killed all the people in the great flood. Every man, woman and child. It makes me wonder, what kind of God am I worshipping?

God’s watching all that’s happening with my family now, and I feel like when I believe in God, that he is real and good and powerful, it is so important that my mum comes to know him before she dies, and although I know it is not my responsibility, I find my mum stops being my mum and becomes my mission and that’s an awful pressure to hold. In those time’s, instead of being able to appreciate the time we have together and using it to make memories, I worry and try to find opportunities to talk about God. When he’s not real, it’s not a problem, we can just relax and enjoy the time left with no agenda. I feel frightened that she may be so close to finding him but that he’ll kill her right before she meets him. That I won’t be quick enough, or worse that the quicker I try, the quicker he’ll kill her off because he doesn’t want her to find him.

I’ve been trying for weeks to get my mum and Donna to meet up and every time I set it up, something got in the way, be it other visitors, my mum being ill or nurses coming over. Last week, after telling me that God’s not real and if he is, he’s a shit, she admitted to Donna that one day, she would like to talk to her about God and dying, but not yet. My mum think’s she’s got a year, but it’s really more like a month or two. The cancer’s like a ticking time bomb in my mum’s body, but God has the ability to slow it down long enough for her to find him. The idea that he may choose not to, makes me angry with him, but I don’t want to believe in a God who isn’t loving, so I’m not sure I believe in him at all.

On the flip side, all of this past year can’t be enough to destroy everything I’ve already seen and experienced of God, can it? I’ve got to believe that God is an all-loving, all-powerful God. I’ve seen and heard too many things for it not to be true.

So I’m not quite sure whether to believe in God or not, but I think that’s okay. I’ll work it out in the end and this apprenticeship will give me time to think about it.

That’s a really long and ranty message, I only meant to say thank you and tell you I’d got a job :-/ Nevermind, sending it anyway.

See you next Thursday,



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