Friday, October 12, 2012

30 Days of Authenticity- Day 4: Gut-wrenchingly Painful

In many ways, today's post is further exploration of the "bad" highlighted yesterday. Sometimes life is more than bad or difficult. Sometimes it's pain, sorrow, heartbreak, death, etc. Sometimes calling something "bad" just doesn't paint the picture with the proper shadows and darkness. That's where we are today: being authentic when it hurts. Allow me to be very personal with you here.  I'm about to get rather transparent. 

Some people don't struggle with this at all, but some have a hard time allowing others to see them in their darkest, most vulnerable days. Personally, I tend to be in the latter category. I consider myself to be a pretty strong person. I can usually handle things (note the usage of usually rather than always) better than some would expect. God has been with me each time I've been in the wilderness. Knowing He was with me in those seasons has truly strengthened me.  I've been through those fires and come out fine because He was there.  I'm usually okay when it's over. Usually...

In spring of 2010, we learned we were expecting another child. We were thrilled and everyone we knew was excited for us. It was still very early in the pregnancy when I had a little scare. It wasn't anything terrible, but it still needed to be checked. I went to the ER that night and was diagnosed with a threatened miscarriage. That doesn't mean you're guaranteed to miscarry, but it means your odds are higher than most.

I remember spending time praying, reading my Bible, and preparing myself for the possibility. Even though I totally believe that your thoughts have power (see Proverbs 4:23), I still felt like denying the very real possibility of miscarriage would ultimately hurt more than help.  I remember hearing words that Sherri Burgess shared at a women's conference a few months before. Sherri and her family lost their precious baby boy Bronner to a horrible accident and started sharing her family's testimony soon after. I remember Sherri saying that God kept saying to her that He was enough. I remember how those words encouraged me when miscarriage was so likely.

It was a waiting game for sure, but it finally happened. My actual miscarriage started the night before Mother's Day. I remember that moment of acceptance vividly. James and Matthew brought me my Mother's Day gift that night-a sweet necklace that I cherish to this day- and let me have some time to "relax." I wasn't really "relaxing," but we hadn't quite decided how to approach the news with Matthew at the time. A more honest look at that moment would show a time of processing and grieving.

It hurt. We wanted another baby. It took us years to become pregnant again. It was finally happening, but it slipped away so quickly. I love(d) James and Matthew more than words can say and I was still blessed more than I'll ever deserve to have them in my life. I remember having those thoughts that night. I turned to Psalms 30:5 that night. Could there be a more perfect verse? There was surely sorrow that night, but being Matthew's mother would be especially celebrated in the morning on Mother's Day.

I held on to that verse much longer than expected. That night of sorrow lasted for five months, but my days, for the most part, were filled with joy. I was okay, I was handling it well, or at least as well as could be expected. I didn't understand it though. I was fine all day long, yet each night I'd dream of a baby or pregnancy. I would awake each morning to the realization that it was all just another dream. It was heartbreaking and I never told anyone I was struggling with it. After all, I was the strong one. If the strong one struggles, it affects everyone who relies on that "strength." 

I don't know why it took so long for it to click. I just don't. After one especially bad night of dreams, I knew I had to ask God to take this desire away. I thought I had moved on. If you asked me at the time, I would've told you with sincerity that I was content to trust God with this. If we had another child, that would be such a blessing. However, if we were only supposed to have Matthew, I was still beyond content.  After all, that sweet child is such a blessing all by himself. I don't know how I came across it, but I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's "Beauty Will Rise" that morning. I sobbed and sobbed. This hidden, unknown heartbreak and desire finally surfaced.

Later that morning, I went to the alter and I turned it over to God. I prayed for Him to take those dreams from me. I prayed for emotional healing. I prayed to never again experience miscarriage, even if that meant never becoming pregnant again. I remember how relieved I was to release that heavy burden.

I promise I'm going somewhere with this. Stick with me.

I finally talked to James about this private battle I fought. I even somehow talked about it with two dear friends from church later that night. The thing was that, those ladies, unbeknownst to me at the time, had walked that road of heartbreak. We talked openly and honestly about how much it hurts to lose a pregnancy (and child). We were in Arby's with tons of folks around, engrossed in their own happy conversations, being gut-wrenchingly transparent about one of the hardest things we had ever experienced. They were bold. They were honest. They were authentic. It was everything I needed to be able to truly let go. I needed to talk to someone who had been there. I didn't need to hear what scripture would help me. I needed fellow believers who would talk openly about their experiences and remind me that God would carry me the same way He carried them. God put them there for me that night.

Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."  That's what Kim and Pam did for me that day. They took the comfort God gave them and they shared it with me.  It was what I needed more than anything.  I'll always remember that. 

I can guarantee that miscarriage and loss are not among their favorite topics, but they went there with me that night.  It's also exactly what Sherri Burgess was doing earlier that year at that conference,  only before I even knew I needed to hear it.  Even though it had to have brought back painful memories, they were all authentic and transparent.  When I learn of someone else experiencing pregnancy or child loss, I have to be available to share with them now.  The opportunity may or may not present itself, but I have to be willing.  When someone else is experiencing a change of plans because a newborn is in the NICU, I have to be available to share our experience with Matthew.  Those are just two things God carried us through and we have to be able to comfort others with that same comfort we received, just as we are compelled to do here in 2 Corinthians. 

What has God brought you through in your life?  There's so much more than good, bad, and the in-between.  We've all experienced true pain in our lives. Some immediately think of death, some think of ended relationships, some think of financial struggles.  Whatever it may be for you, share it when you see someone else experiencing something similar.  If it's hard or even painful to think and talk about, it's probably even more important to share.  Think of it as paying it forward.  It makes such a difference to those who are going through the fire.  You can't get more authentic than that.

On a positive note, when you hear us refer to Lucy as our rainbow baby, this story is why.  In the midst of all of those rough days, God sent a rainbow.  I took a picture of it because I knew it was for me.  I knew it was a promise that I wouldn't experience that again.  We found out we were expecting Lucy in Spring 2011 and she'll be one on December 1.  We are honored and humbled to have Matthew and Lucy; they are our greatest heritage. It is my joy to serve them in motherhood.

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