How Experiencing Loss Can Change Our Faith: Choosing Courageous Growth in Trials

By Amy Debrucque

God's Brave Women - Amy's Story


“There is a difference between having a childlike faith and being a childish Christian.”


While leaving our friend Mike's funeral, I felt somewhat conflicted. Mike had passed away from a brain tumor in his mid-20s.


Walking away from such sadness, yet having the ability to walk away because it didn’t directly affect me left me feeling both awkward and relieved. I even remember saying in my head at the time, I could never imagine anything like that happening.


Even now, when I repeat that thought I had almost 30 years ago, I can't help but think what a huge red flag it was in my faith journey. Not just because of my naivety in thinking my family was invincible, but also because it showcased how unprepared I was should something devastating ever happen to me or my family.


 

"I can't help but think what a huge red flag it was in my faith journey. Not just because of my naivety in thinking my family was invincible, but also because it showcased how unprepared I was should something devastating ever happen to me or my family."

 

It was a sign for sure, but I ignored it, even though I felt uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. I brushed it off as being a normal reaction to witnessing something for the first time in my life which seemed out of order. Older people die, not young ones that I know.


Although it’s true we can’t understand a loss we’ve never experienced, it was also an indicator that maybe my faith wasn’t where it needed to be.


I would love to say leaving the funeral prompted me to reflect a little deeper into my faith walk, but it didn’t. I had the luxury of just walking away because the grief didn’t directly impact me. And so, I continued on in my own world, praying on Sundays and at funerals.


Blocking out the possibility of something devastating ever happening would soon become a huge stumbling block for me. Toby Mac had a quote that became personal for me in a hospital years later – “He had to make you uncomfortable or you would have never moved…”


I always identified as a Christian from the time I was little. My parents took us to church, we said grace, and said our prayers every night. What I didn’t realize as I entered into adulthood was that I was still riding on the coattails of my parents’ faith. Faith they had laid out for me as a small child.


I was practicing my faith in a matter of traditions rather than trust. Not investing the time to learn how to live it out, because I assumed my parents’ faith was strong enough to cover me. Pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ independently from them and how that could affect my life wasn’t even on my radar.


 

"I was practicing my faith in a matter of traditions rather than trust. Not investing the time to learn how to live it out, because I assumed my parents’ faith was strong enough to cover me."

 

Most of us aren’t intentionally excluding God out of our lives, however, when we aren’t intentional about including Him either, that’s when life becomes harder than it needs to be.


 

"Most of us aren’t intentionally excluding God out of our lives, however, when we aren’t intentional about including Him either, that’s when life becomes harder than it needs to be."

 

Less than a few years after our friend’s death, my oldest brother received a similar diagnosis of a brain stem tumor that would ultimately take his life. The consequences of my unpreparedness and unformed faith would be spotlighted in the hospital after his initial diagnosis.


I still remember my brother tearfully expressing concern for his wife and son to my mother, should anything happen to him. Like most mothers I know, her response was nothing less than a desperate display of reassurance of protection towards her child.


My mom responded with conviction in her authoritative manner as she always did, but also with a devastating lie that shattered me into a million pieces. She told him, “I am not going to let anything happen to you.”


Those words devastated me not because I didn’t appreciate her compassion and protection as a parent, but because it was the realization of 2 things for me:

1. My parents' limitations and humanness.

2. The depths of my dependence on them in my faith, even as an adult.


When you believe your strength and faith come from anyone or anywhere other than God, your weakness is exposed.


 

"When you believe your strength and faith come from anyone or anywhere other than God, your weakness is exposed."

 

It was a standout moment that forced me to face the fact that even though I always identified as a Christian, I unconsciously expected my parent’s faith to cover mine, without having to do any of the work on my own. Immature faith at its finest.


It felt like time stopped. Immediately, I felt fear begin to weave its way in my heart, and it felt heavy… I feared uncertainty and didn’t know where to lean for assurance.


Between the time of my brother’s diagnosis and his death, I got married, pregnant, and had my first child, a son named Alexander. Alex was a great distraction and true gift during one of the most difficult times in my life. It was also a way my shaky foundation of faith could be put on the back burner once more.


However, 16 days after my brother’s death, my son Alex unexpectedly passed away. The experience felt unbelievable. It left me floundering, causing my already unstable foundation to completely cave in.


Although life went on and I had 4 more healthy children, those 2 deaths, along with my stagnant faith, would foster years of anxiety until my 40th birthday.


I normally say that when other people are planning their mid-life crisis at 40, I was planning my treatment for a cancer diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.


Life can be hard and almost cruel at times, but sometimes we receive things we need, even if we would have never prayed for them.


 

"Life can be hard and almost cruel at times, but sometimes we receive things we need, even if we would have never prayed for them."

 

Without sounding flippant, or undermining the seriousness of the word cancer, this diagnosis was my awakening moment. It was an opportunity for growth…and I took it. Moving past my immature faith and growing into a more mature one, I learned how to develop a personal and everlasting relationship with God. To trust Him first before everyone and everything.


 

"Moving past my immature faith and growing into a more mature one, I learned how to develop a personal and everlasting relationship with God. To trust Him first before everyone and everything."

 

It finally allowed me to surrender my will for God’s. It taught me how intentionally seeking Him could strengthen my faith and ultimately give me peace through His promises.


It helped me learn how to prepare a stronger foundation while living in this unstable world, for the very first time.


Once I began to develop my walk in a more mature way, my life dramatically changed. It gave me the courage to live with purpose instead of fear and helped me to do things that I would have never considered doing before.


Now I’m leaning into what God desires for me instead of what I desire for myself. I offer hope and healing to others through my pain and prepare other women in a better way than I was.


I learned that being hidden and comfortable for too long doesn’t produce any growth or needed change. And it definitely doesn’t strengthen your faith and confidence. If anything, it slowly and sometimes subtly, begins to hinder you, leaving you feeling completely isolated and unprepared for life.


 

"I learned that being hidden and comfortable for too long doesn’t produce any growth or needed change."

 

It’s a true blessing to follow God’s prompting to move and grow.


Living in obedience isn’t easy, but it is the only way to truly live our lives on purpose. And, it can only happen when we allow our faith to transition into maturity. I still have much to learn, and I’m grateful for that. There is freedom in knowing I don’t have all the answers but God does.


 

"I still have much to learn, and I’m grateful for that. There is freedom in knowing I don’t have all the answers but God does."

 

I always say FEAR IS NORMAL BUT COURAGE GETS THE FINAL SAY.


What fears might be interfering with your confidence in Christ? Have you prepared well?


I want to encourage you to ask yourself these questions.


What are your biggest fears?

How solid is your foundation?

Who do you put your hope in? Is it yourself, your spouse, your parents, or God?

And, are you willing to see and act on the signs and indicators that God may be presenting you with, to strengthen your faith into something greater than you could ever imagine?


 

"Are you willing to see and act on the signs and indicators that God may be presenting you with, to strengthen your faith into something greater than you could ever imagine?"

 

I pray you don’t wait to be intentional in your faith walk and rely on others to do it for you. Instead, be courageous and proactive so you’re ready when difficult times come. Because at some point in life, we are all going to need it.


 

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story

And by the way...


You are Brave!


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About Amy


Amy is an author, speaker, cancer-survivor, believer, and host of the Life On

Purpose Podcast. She encourages both women and men weekly with her

newsletter and free resources on her website. Amy has been featured in various

publications including Womenencouraged.com, Darlingmagazine.org, and

ThriveGlobal as well as many podcasts. Her first book, Embolden, was released

on April 23rd 2021. This 4-week reflection journal is meant to meet women

where they are but not leave them there.


In addition to her professional roles, her most cherished roles are being a wife to Ron, mom to Blair, Sam, Ethan, and Adeline. You can connect with her on her website amydebrucque.com and follow her on Instagram @amydebrucque.