Tuesday the 4th marks the one year anniversary of the day we lost our first baby. As the day grows closer, I’m reminded of the myriad of emotions and feelings that you go through when you lose a child, which you can read about in this blog post: Rollercoaster. It is hard to believe that it has been that long, but at the same time so much has happened since then.
I just finished reading a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In the book, Ann explores the idea of daily thanksgiving as a way to grow closer to God. She is challenged to write down 1,000 things she is thankful for to keep her looking for God’s beauty in everyday life. At one point in the book she writes:
“When your memories have… an ultrasound screen [that] stretches still and you’re sent home to wait for the uterine muscles to contract out the dead dreams? … Remember to give thanks? For what? What if remembering doesn’t kindle gratitude? What if remembering just leaves third-degree burns?
In the wait, memories blister. And in the still, Spirit comes and He whispers a name. Christ. He gave us Jesus… If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?
When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ’s safe arms, true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust! We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust! We can give thanks in everything because there’s a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust!
Sometimes we don’t fully see that in Christ, because of Christ, through Christ, He does give us all things good– until we have the perspective of years.
Wasn’t it too that way with Moses? “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back” (Exodus 33:22-23 NIV).
Is that it? When it gets dark, it’s only because God has tucked me in a cleft of the rock and covered me, protected, with His hand? In the pitch, I feel like I’m falling, sense the bridge giving way, God long absent. In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is the true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by… God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. Then He will remove His hand and then we will look. Then we look back and see His back. (p 153-154 excerpts)”
That’s truly what it feels like. The death of a dream. And despite knowing better, you feel alone and abandoned and wondering why something like this could ever happen to you. Gratitude seems the furthest from what you’re feeling.
However, looking back with the perspective of a year, it is so clear to see that God was there in the midst of it all. That God was weaving my life and Stephen’s life closer and closer.
And so, a few days shy of one year later, here are the things that I am thankful for after this loss:
- Our marriage, tested with tragedy, is so much stronger now. I’ve had to grow as a person and so has he. And while I was an emotional wreck and was more prone to show my sadness, disappointment and shame, Stephen stepped up as leader of our home and constantly sought out God to help us. God has used this to grow us as individuals and as a couple.
- I am even more convinced every month that we try to have a baby (and so far, every month that we fail to do so) that Stephen will be an incredible father to our children. He continues to show patience. He continues to comfort me at every obstacle we face. He tells me with words and backs it up through actions how precious this is to him.
- God was able to use me to minister to a friend who went through the same experience just two months after we lost our baby. I knew that God would use me in this way some day, but I wasn’t expecting it to be that soon. The emotions were still so raw and I didn’t think I was ready for it. But God knew I was. God was able to challenge me to be His hands and help do His work.
- I have realized that I must choose joy. I’ve never really had to do this before– I’m generally a joyful person. I found a site called Naturally Knocked Up, and her blog posts on miscarriage are so incredibly spot on. I couldn’t phrase this any better, so I’m borrowing Donielle’s words:
“For my life is no less blessed in trials as it is when I can easily see that life is good. And this one very small and seemingly insignificant child has taught me so much in such a short amount of time.While difficult, I’ve seen growth in myself, my marriage, and my family. I’ve learned what it means to be held and comforted.
Some days are not easy, and I’m sure some of you have these days as well. I lash out. Where the pain is raw, where my heart aches, and my arms crave to hold. Where I want to disappear, to hide, to spend time alone.
To choose joy is not always easy for me.
But I must choose peace in my here and now. That this is my life. That this is where I’m supposed to be – learning, stretching, growing. Opening myself to His goodness and grace.
Finding joy in my every day life. Even when it’s difficult.”
- Life does go on. Not that we ever forget. I think of our sweet angel baby daily. I see his/her little framed ultrasound picture every day and I thank God for the immense joy that tiny little person brought us for those few short weeks. And it was true, beautiful, all-encompassing joy. But, life is still worth living. And life is still blessed. We have so much in our lives to be thankful for, still. We have an amazing family, incredible friends, a comfortable life in a beautiful house and a love that defies the odds (this is what happens when a Raiders fan marries a Broncos fan 🙂 ).
- We have hope. Hope that God will bless us with a child (or two… we’ll see about more…). Hope that he will remember me as he remembered Ruth, Rachel and Hannah.
I am blessed and I am thankful. One of the major themes of One Thousand Gifts is that thanksgiving always precedes the miracle. So, I will continue to give thanks, knowing that God has a miracle in store for me.