What Has Been Born From My Miscarriages
This past year has been a full one.
Joyful surprises, wonderful new experiences, sweet times of growth and change in our family's life. It has also been the hardest year of my life.
After losing a baby in the fall of last year, we took some time to recover before attempting pregnancy again. It happened quickly and we were rich with expectation, bathing that unborn child in confident prayer and love and, that most dangerous little emotion, hope. But, when we were met with the ugly reality that yet another life had failed to thrive within me, my world -and my understanding of God- was rocked to the core.
I don't pretend to stand on some mountain-top of faith in this, like the darkness of the valley behind me is completely conquered, but I can at least testify about some things in a way that I never could have done before last year.
This is where "Bare Tribe" gets really bare. And these are the things that have been born from my miscarriages.
1. I have finally come face-to-face with my sin. I came to know and love God just before my 13th birthday, or just before I had the chance to get into high school and really screw things up. Ever since, I'd pretty much been like a spoiled child that hadn't seen much hardship or heartache. Even after that first loss, I quickly felt God's comfort and simply trusted his love for me and got back on my feet.
The second loss, however, was different. Like C.S. Lewis described in his book about grief, my "idea of God" had been shattered. I did not understand why he didn't intervene, why he allowed me to conceive, why he led me to hope and praise him for something he wasn't actually going to do for me. Never before had I felt so overlooked and forgotten, or more honestly, betrayed. The God of the Universe hurt my feelings and broke my heart. Where are you even supposed to go from there?
I remember singing at church one Sunday, "All our hope is in you." The chorus repeated it over and over until I couldn't stand it and had to weep into my husband's shoulder. I felt those words so hard that they hurt, because the truth of them was burning like peroxide on my wounds of distrust.
I had always read that I was a sinner in need of God's grace, but loving him came somewhat easy to me. My sin and need for God was something that I believed in. In this though, my sin was and is brutally apparent to me. I feel the tension between my spirit yearning to love and trust him while my flesh tears at me with confusion, distrust, and bitterness. I've decided that it's a good tension because I am finally aware of my own personal dissonance. Not just my love for him, but my need of him. I want things in my spirit and yet don't feel them in my flesh. It's strange. And the only solution is for God to wrap me in his love and heal me, empower me to be more like him, and cover all my imperfection with grace.
2. I have come to know what I once believed. Just like my awareness of sin finally became real, I've also can say that the truths about God that I once read and believed are now realities that I am experiencing. However, just like the tension between spirit and flesh, there is a tension in this because I am experiencing God's character only at a time when my understanding of that character has fallen apart.
I always believed when Scriptures said God was near to the broken-hearted, but now I can testify: He is near the broken-hearted. He is the Comforter and Counselor. When I was crying over my disbelief in his goodness and power, he didn't rebuke or punish me. He softened my heart and spoke comfort to me. He puts life into the places that want to give up and die.
I believed the gospel: Jesus gave his life so that we could be redeemed and have friendship with God. But I didn't even know what that "friendship" felt like until it was damaged. Now I feel I'm beginning to have a real friendship with God, one with baggage and conflict and hurt and healing and tears and laughter. One that gets better and deeper with time. My idea of him was shattered, so I hope this time we're rebuilding together.
3. I have considered the worst... and decided against it. Through the struggle of my heartache and confusion, I let myself ponder some of the reasons people push God away and wondered if I believed them.
I have begun to feel renewed strength and faith in these past months as God and I work our new friendship out, but in the back of my mind I could hear the judgement of an unbelieving world and I wondered: Is my religion just a crutch? Is it just the sigh of this oppressed creature - opium for the masses?
I easily knew that my Christianity was not a crutch to get me through the hard times of those miscarriages. No, my Christianity created the hard time within me. It was the one thing that didn't offer a reasonable hypothesis or explanation. It shined light on my infirmities and forced me to confront painful realities in my heart. Religion was more like a linebacker that slammed me into the ground than any "crutch" to make things easy. It was not a pleasing drug that numbed discomfort or eased my mind. It was not the blind acceptance of any illusion, it was more of a sobering, torturous shattering of previous illusions and slow search for Truth. (Like Lewis put it, God himself is the great Iconoclast.)
And besides, the idea that religion is our "crutch" can only come from the sad truth that the world has gotten used to a bunch of broken Christians that have tolerated their limp for far too long. I do not want a crutch, but thankfully God has not asked me to carry one. He has given me new legs instead.
My experience with those miscarriages was sadness, death, disappointment, confusion, and mourning. But, even though those things are still very real I can make another honest statement. I can also testify that my experience with those miscarriages has been joy, life, hope, healing, and rejoicing.
The birth of new and beautiful things within me and a brand new pair of legs.