Monday, July 30, 2018

Come Sit at the Table

Its July 30, 2018.  Today is the day that I thought I would be done.  I thought I would be done having kids, done being pregnant and done with the childbearing stage of my life.  Yet here I am and I have no idea if our family is complete as it is right now, Jake, our two sons, and me, or if there is more in store for us.  I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to get pregnant again, whether through IVF as with our first son, or naturally, as we did with our second (and third). 

There is a trickiness to being a c-section mama.  You see, I know without a shadow of a doubt that this would have been the day we would have met our third child.  I could tell you what time we would have woken up to go the hospital, the exact time pre-op would have started and the approximate time that the baby would have arrived.  As a result, there were certain times of the day today that stung more than others.  4 a.m. when the alarm would have gone off, 6 a.m. when we would have been expected to arrive at the hospital, and 7 a.m. when pre-op would have begun.  If all had gone well, the baby would have been here around 8:30 and by this time we would have hoped the boys would be arriving to meet their new sibling.  But here I am, sitting at home, writing while my sons nap and tears welling in my eyes. 

There is a release for me today.  A release of the expectation for things to work out on the timeline that I expect.  A release of what the redemption of this hurt should look like on this side of heaven.  And as a result of this loss, a release of my expectations of how God heals me and changes my heart.

There were a couple of months that I expected God to grant us another pregnancy because, well, that might ease the pain or distract me from this loss.  I’m not trying to sound insensitive or diminish the impact of the miscarriage; I’m just being honest.  There were other months that I thought God would work things out in a different area that would be to our family’s advantage in continuing to pursue His will for us.  Yet, none of those things have come to pass.  I am not pregnant.  We are still very actively working through some things for our household and our budget and I know that I need to stop putting God in a box outlined by human outcomes. 

I’ve tried to negotiate my way out of this pain in so many different ways in my walk with the Lord.  I’ve tried to negate the pain or distract myself from my hurt but that is when God has drawn closest.  I now realize that it is in fact during our times of greatest weakness that the Lord can press in and fill in spaces of our heart that we thought were unfixable. 

I now know that in this rawness and vulnerable heart space that the Lord has such immense love and longing for each of His children.  I consider it my greatest purpose to simply show people how much he loves them - just as they are.  Not because of anything they have or haven’t done.  Not because of a specific level of strength or weakness.  Not because they know the Bible by heart or sing well during worship.  Just because.  Love has been my most powerful lesson because that is exactly how He has healed me. 

There have been moments in the last six months that I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t pretend to be ok.  I couldn’t pretend to feel fulfilled or know how to move forward.  I couldn’t sing or worship and I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t upset with God that things worked out the way they did.  Don’t get me wrong, I know where fault lies in all of this – this isn’t a debate on theology and spiritual warfare.  Its an honest portrayal of walking through and battling for faith after loss in my life.  Its coming to the jarring realization that no matter how you’ve served or what your faith walk looks like – bad things still happen to you, bad things happen to anyone.  And yet, here I sit – knowing I am deeply and passionately loved by Jesus.  I know just how true it is that he will leave the 99 and pursue me.  I know that I will not be abandoned by Him. 

Grief can make even the most connected person feel lonely and isolated by humans but with Jesus, healing is possible.  I miss this baby with everything in me and unlike anyone else ever will but I can’t neglect to highlight exactly how far Jesus has gone to pursue my heart over and over and over again in the last six months.  He has shown me and unearthed a level of compassion and love for others during this time that I would have never known without being broken apart and slowly put back together again. 

It is so very hard to walk through difficult times and it is even harder to press into faith and Jesus during those moments but when you do – there is a level of love and surrender unlike anything you’ll ever know. 

My heart is broken but it has finally been broken by Jesus.  I can confidently say that I know the Lord is going to use this broken heart for bonding with others through brokenness and building stronger faith.  Our table has seen and felt heartache this year that we never knew before but because of it our table has new seats of understanding and compassion.  With each new journey, God expands my empathy and it will be used for His glory.  So please, don’t ever feel alone - come to the table – I pray we never tire of serving His grace, love and forgiveness through the sharing of heartache, brokenness, joy and laughter.   

Monday, July 9, 2018

Humanity in Emotion

Throughout the last few months I’ve wrestled with an expectation of myself in that I assume that when I grieve I lose joy.  Slowly but surely I am realizing that is an absolute lie.  Just as healing can only come from Jesus, the same is true about joy.  Joy is considered a fruit of the spirit and its something gained when you are in right relationship with God regardless of the earthly circumstances you are walking in.  It is not something that is of our own strength.  It can also be present during the most unusual and difficult times.  The presence of grief does not mean the absence of joy.  In fact, I would even argue that grief opens up a new level of joy that wasn’t realized before because of the gratitude that comes during the grieving process.

Think about the times that you have truly grieved something in your life.  It can be a season that you grieved such as ending college or changing careers.  It can be a person that has passed away or a relationship that ended.  In each of these circumstances, the grief over what has ended or been lost does not negate the joy that existed or exists as a result of that season, person or experience.

I feel that this is often a misconception about faith and relationship with Jesus as well.  Just because someone is in relationship with Jesus does not mean that they have all the answers, nor the ability to be carefree.  The presence of faith does not mean the absence of doubt.  The presence of faith does not mean the absence of human emotion or even sin for that matter.  It does, however, mean that there is a direct line of information, spiritual gifts and forgiveness available to you through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit that will bring healing and wholeness through Jesus.   

I think that often we set ourselves up for failure in thinking that we can only experience one emotion at a time, which is absurd.  It also frustrates me that when a person is open and honest about the tough emotions (anger, sadness, grief, jealousy) society assumes that those are the only emotions that person is capable of feeling and sometimes they become ostracized.  The fact of the matter is that when someone is open about the tough stuff it simply makes other people uncomfortable and that’s on them not the person trying to be honest in processing their emotions. 

Jesus did this so well.  He walked this earth and challenged the common way of thinking and he made people uncomfortable for all of the right reasons.   There will be times in our own lives that if we are really allowing God’s light to shine through us – others will be uncomfortable.  At the end of the day, that is on them – not us.  If something you are walking through or experiencing in your life or your faith walk makes another person uncomfortable it means that they have some digging, processing and healing to do on their own time.  It does not mean that we need to coddle their discomfort, mask our emotions, and/or play a part of some kind in order to fit in. 

We have all been created to experience the full range of emotions differently and to do so in community and in love.  As I continue to read the book of Job, I see that Job’s emotions and wrestling with God made his friends uncomfortable but why?  It is because they had their own preconceptions and ideologies of what being in relationship or in favor with God meant.  Even Job had to wrestle through and question what he defined as God’s favor. 

Ever since the loss of my own naiveté of what it feels like to live without suffering, I have come to realize that the depth and breadth of my own personal emotional understanding and relationship with Jesus has vastly been changed.  I now have such an appreciation for what it meant for Jesus to walk the earth, deeply engage in relationship, experience loss as well as opposition and continue to treat everyone with grace and love.  And while I am not called to sacrifice myself for any of you, I am willing to sacrifice myself for Him in an effort to show just how deeply loved you are.  Plus, the simple fact that he himself experienced all of the hard emotions that we walk through here on earth deepens my love and appreciation for him and the effort He put in to saving me. 

I’ll end with this.  Today when I felt myself beginning to feel sadness and grieve our angel baby I simply allowed the spirit to pray for me and in that moment I was overwhelmed.  The Lord spoke to me and said; “you know the tears you’ve shed over your lost child and the joy you have in your other children – imagine the tears I shed over all of my lost children and the joy I have in those that are found?”  I wept.  I simply wept.  If the world only knew how much God loves us!  If you only knew how cherished you are – goodness, would your life change.  I realize a lot of my Jesus talk and God moment stories and Holy Spirit references make people uncomfortable, but if even just one person can sense, feel and turn to the grace and open arms God has for them, this is all worth it.  Today I pray that you know God’s heart for you, I pray that you realize that He knows EXACTLY how you are feeling and He loves you just as you are.  Don’t be ashamed to feel – God created you for just that and when you feel that its time to know Jesus – don’t be afraid of that either.  He is waiting for you.