March 17th will forever take on new meaning for me. No green, no pinching, no tradition. Just cold, and sterile, and numb.
I remember lying in that hospital bed in pre-op, this date last year, looking around at the nurses moving back and forth, no one was wearing green. Maybe it wasn’t really March 17th. Maybe this all wasn’t really real.
I didn’t even tell people that I was going to be out from work. It was exactly two weeks from the first procedure: a failed attempt at “naturally” passing the pregnancy. When I returned to school the first time, there were no cards, no flowers, no hugs from my colleagues and friends. Well, I remember one hug from someone so unexpected that I will forever look at them through different eyes; forever grateful they took the risk to share a moment of sympathy. Five young ladies, my beloved yearbook editors, had little offerings of condolences, sprinkled with their own heart-felt acknowledgements of my loss. But, I didn’t cry. When you are numb, you can’t cry. Instead I carried on, allowing the pattern and comfort of hustle to propel me.
So March 17th was just another school day. Sharing my grief had only been met with deafening silence; a double dose would not have helped. So, not sharing became my armor and shield, a guaranteed way to protect myself from the disappointment of expectation. The disappointment of not being known and seen the way that I had hoped my beloved friends and colleagues would have seen me: broken, devastated, lost.
I have learned a lot since last March. I have learned that through the brokenness, I have felt God more keenly. I have learned that you cannot seek comfort in others; true comfort only rests in Him. And I have learned that when you place your expectations on others, they will inevitably let you down. Yes, because they are imperfect, but also because that is God’s design.
I also have learned that there are so many who have walked this season and yet even more who have not. For those of you who have not, I want to encourage you to choose your words wisely. During times of loss (regardless of the type of loss), those in mourning are raw, like pink skin from a fresh sunburn. Aloe only soothes in the moment, true healing takes time.
Here are five phrases that people said to me in my most vulnerable state, words I pray you never repeat.
1. “Now, that you’ve had a miscarriage, you’ll get pregnant right away.”
There were so many promises of impending pregnancy that every month was another loss, another reason to mourn, grieve. Even my doctor, breathed lifeless promises of “I’ll get you pregnant.” Empty promises are just that . . . empty. I have since been to two other doctors whom I both respect and here’s why. Neither of them made these promises. The looked at the data and gave it to me straight. That data has been hard to swallow, but I am grateful to be filled with the truth rather than false expectations.
2. “It just wasn’t God’s timing.”
Every time I hear this statement, my heart cries out “No shit!” (sorry, mom). I know this! My heart knows this. My mind knows this. That does not mean that His timing stings any less. That does not mean that His will is any less painful. It’s like when your parents spank you and they say, “I’m doing this because I love you.” Yeah, yeah, we get it, but why does love have to hurt so badly? But let’s be technical here. Let’s be biblical. Biblically, this loss was God’s timing. My pain, was His timing. Giving my heart and my life fully to him in my most broken and vulnerable space was His perfect timing.
3. “God will provide the desires of your heart.”
Ok, friends, let’s be real. Where in the Bible does God state he is going to provide our wants? Nowhere. Go and check. “Desires of our hearts,” should reflect God’s heart. God’s heart is set on bringing people to Him, not making sure my life is so comfy cozy that I never want to step out of my bubble to bring people into His kingdom. No one witnesses on vacation. Why? Because you are too at ease, and when at ease the calling of Christ is easily pushed under a rug. Even Jesus did not have all his “desires” met by God. Go back and look at Jesus in the garden pre-crucifixion. He cries out, “Father, take this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42) But read it again, two qualifiers (sorry, grammar terms) are inserted pre and post this request: “if you are willing” (pre) and “your will be done, not mine” (post). That means it might not be God’s will to grant me the “desires of my heart” because my heart is selfish, my heart is deceitful, my heart is vain. I might never be a mother. And as painful as that reality is, that might be God’s will. And if that is the case, then I will gladly accept this fate because ultimately I want the desires of my heart to reflect His.
4. “You don’t have to be a mom to have a ministry.”
Yeah, sister, this is so true. I get it. You got me. I know that I have a ministry with my students and former students. One unlike any of my colleagues. One where I love on them, mentor to them, drink coffee with them, Vox them (have we not talked about my favorite app, Voxer?), celebrate with them, cry with them, dance with them at their weddings. But, telling a woman who just lost a child to focus on “ministry” is like telling a child who just lost a puppy to cling to stuffed animals. Yes, I can love on my students now and from afar on social media when they graduate. But, I will never open my door to the sounds of them filling my home. I will never snuggle them so tightly that I breathe them in. I will never hold their tiny hands knowing that God allowed me to create their life.
5. “Just go and adopt.”
This is probably the most common statement and question that I receive. Almost weekly, even. Sometimes I can handle this question. Sometimes I know it’s coming and can deflect. But sometimes, depending on who and the context, tears erupted so suddenly; they’re like a surprise attack from the fountain at Mall of Georgia. The reality is, adoption is not in everyone’s story. I can’t explain it and I don’t really feel that I should have to, but I know that so many people want to know. The truth is, Jason and I just do not feel called to adopt. We love those that adopt. We support those who adopt, But I am not willing to step out of God’s will and act on my own simply because I want something so badly. Uh, been there, done that. Didn’t work out for me. God’s will is His will and if he calls us to that act then it was be His calling, not mine. Yes, I want to be a mother so badly that my heart physically aches, but I want to be a faithful daughter of God more.
If you have never walked in these shoes, you might now be paranoid as to what to say. Here is my simple advice, at least say something! Knowing what I know now, I will never not say something to someone walking through loss. Silence only breeds insecurity and shame. Friends, regardless of your loss, you have no reason to be ashamed. God called this to be a part of your story, so use it for His glory! Remember, “your mess, becomes His message.”
My very dearest friend said something to me (over Voxer) so profound that I wrote it down immediately."I am mourning with you."
It was that simple. No one wants to feel alone. So don’t let those you love ever feel this way. It’s just that simple. Speak.
You know I said that over the last twelve months, I’ve learned a lot. Well something else I learned is that Saint Patrick was not Irish (I know, right?! Every holiday is a lie!). He was British and as a teenager he was kidnapped and forced into slavery for six years in Ireland. One of his tasks was to tend sheep and while he tended, he prayed. I identify a lot with this. I tend. I pray. I wait.
Eventually he escaped back to Britain but as a changed man, one sold out for the cause of Christ. Man, do I want that to be my story. Escaping the shame, selling my life out for Christ!
Allow me to end with Saint Patrick’s constant prayer; one that I have tucked away in my heart as I tend and wait.
Christ, shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
Friends, I am truly humbled by those who reading, sharing, commenting, and reaching out regarding my words. I have always felt called to write. I am finally acting on that call. His calling. I know that in this waiting, God is working. Thank you for allowing me to share that work.
If you are inspired, encouraged, or affirmed, please continue to share, comment, and subscribe. I have some goals in the works and every reaction takes me one step closer.
See you next week, friends, where I promise to say a lot of “yes.” In the meantime, I continue to pray for "Thy Will."
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation