It’s my worst fear, and God has called me to live it every day of my life.
Usually when God gives me a story to write, it flows out from my heart onto the page rather easily. This story has taken a while. It has come in splintered, tear-stained shards and I fear it’s not going to be pretty. But I feel it must be told. Suffering for the Christian is never irrelevant. Suffering allows us to share with others, learn, and gain wisdom so that our suffering not only makes us more like the Savior, but also allows others to gain from our suffering if we are willing to show our raw, ugly, passionate struggles. I have often heard that the church does not know how to grieve or that the church does not know how to deal with emotional and mental struggles. To some extent I totally agree with these statements, however, I strongly believe that the church is that way sometimes because of me. If we want the church to be transparent, real, and more genuine, if we want God’s people to become the community we crave, then we need to be willing to be the one weeping in the pew. Or in the hallway in front of the nursery. Or in front of the greeters right in the front foyer. And yes, those are all places I cried in church today.
Two days ago our sweet baby girl left us to live with biological family members out of state. After eight precious months of knowing her, she suddenly is gone and the three nice, neat little divisions of my heart are now two. Bleeding and raw, a triangle cut right out of the middle, unable to be sewn back together. I could never imagine the grief. I had ideas of maybe what it would be like but it is by far the deepest grief I have ever felt. Our sweet girl suffered neglect for the first six weeks of her life so she usually was happiest being held. She became a tiny extension of my arm, hip, and soul. The bond between us was instantaneous and now she is gone.
A week ago I sat in a courtroom determined to keep it together- instead weeping- for a whole fifteen minutes while person after person decided her fate. I was hopeless, helpless and nothing I would do or say could change the fact that her life was about to change forever, and so was mine. She sat in her safe place-my lap- and giggled, chatted, and waved at the judge, carefree and unaware of her Mama’s tears. I will never forget those fifteen minutes. They are burned into my memory.
Eventually I will stop peeking into an empty room to check on a sleeping baby who isn’t there. Eventually I will get out of the car and not open the back door on my side to get her. Eventually I will be able to breathe normally again. But until then, my grief has become my fight song.
My grief is my fight song. I sure don’t feel like singing, but my grief will be my fight song. A song of victory.
My husband needs me.
My son needs me.
God loves me.
And I will continue on.
I was recently reading a blog post about Elizabeth Elliot. Talk about an incomprehensible level of grief! This is one thing she had to say and it has become the lyrics to this fight song.
Trust God. Obey him. Do the next thing.
One thing that stands out to me is the lack of emotion in all of those statements. Like Isaiah in the wilderness. Just eat. Just sleep. Just do. I think this is the only way to get through this kind of grief. There are extremely wavering feelings of trust and obedience, if I am honest. I have no desire to do the next thing. “I just want to wallow, wear leggings and eat ice cream ok?! I just lost a child… I just lost a child. “
Get up. Do the next thing.
I really think that one of the most gracious aspects of God’s design of human kind is that he made our minds so finite and small. There is so much grace in not knowing the future. There is mercy in not knowing the darkness that is about to stretch out ahead. God allowed us to be led to believe that baby L was going to be ours. He led county workers to ask us to hire lawyers and pursue adoption. This actually allowed us to love sweet baby L in the best way possible. I saw her- and still see her as “my girl.” In fact those were my husband’s first words when I shared with him the decision of the court. “My girl…….” We could not have loved her any more if she had come out of my own body. Not knowing she would be suddenly taken from us was God’s grace.
Mamas, love your littles today as if today were the last day you had with them.
I am scared of some things like we all are; spiders, snakes, the dark, the garbage disposal… we all have things we are scared of. But most of us have one deep, dark, intensely visceral fear that grabs at our hearts and squeezes. One fear that, if messed with, causes us to lash out in anger and desperation instead of jumping and squealing. Mine is losing those closest to me.
Three summers ago, my husband-to-be was traveling the country. He left to travel the country and I was convinced he left to leave me behind. I struggled with intense anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, night terrors and migraines. I had lost the one closest to me and my mind could not handle it. Every time he called, I berated his very character because my deepest fear was being messed with. I received counseling, some horrible and some wonderful and still nothing helped. Those months were darker for me than my life ever was before accepting Christ.
Three summers later, God has called me to live my greatest fear every day of my life. As a Mama my children are the closest people to my heart. They are my life, my world, my identity. I live every day wondering if it is my last to smell them, to hear their little voices, to watch them grow, learn and discover the world. This past weekend after the baby left I fought hard in my mind if we were going to be able to continue foster care. I could not imagine suffering this way over and over and over again. I read in Shauna Niequist’s book “Bittersweet” this statement;
“When you stay with something instead of walking away it builds something new inside of you, something solid and weighty, something durable…”
Friends, that is the kind of faith I want.
Faith that is so durable generations can sit on and it not fall apart. Faith that is so weighty it can hold a ship in place.
This grief is intense but “If you can just stay standing… and trust the one who made you, who called you who empowered you who equipped you to use you he will! “ –Liz Curtis Higgs
So today I vow;
To just stay standing
To do the next thing
To sing my fight song.