Joy for My Sorrow

Ok, my friends, this is the big one. This is the post that has been on my heart for over 2 years now, that I have been feeling called to share. — p.s. it might be a tad long, but I apologize for that! — As I write this, my palms are sweating, and my heart is racing. This right here is the essence of vulnerability, but I feel God is calling me to share my story and His hand in it, so I will share. I don’t share for sympathy, for attention, or to perpetuate sadness, but for hope and for healing — I hope that what I have experienced will help bring you to an understanding of how God can heal grief and turn sorrow to joy!

Over the past few months, you have read as I occasionally write about my daughter, who is now 9 months old, but the whole truth is that I have 3 children. Evelyn is the only one I am able to hold in my arms here on this earth; the other two, I can only carry in my heart.

My oldest child was a son. It is still painful for me to share all of the details along the journey, and so I will keep some of them private; my son would be 3 this year in April, and nothing in the world could have prepared me for the devastation I felt when I found out I would never be able to hold him. The possibility of a miscarriage had never ever crossed my mind, and I felt like my whole world imploded the day I got the news that my son was gone.

It took me a very long time to realize that to have a baby right then was my plan, and not God’s. I said, “now” and God said “not yet“, and that was the hardest thing that I had had to go through up to that point in my life. I thought that I was ready, that our marriage was in a place where we were ready to become parents, and that we were financially stable. I had crossed all of my t’s and dotted all of my i’s and my plan was going to happen right on my schedule. But God’s plan for my life is sovereign, and ended up being different than mine. I did not understand, and was heartbroken, but God never says we need to understand His plan, just accept it as His best for us, in love.

With my second child I was never able to know if I had a son or daughter. He or she would be 3 in September this year. Unexpectedly finding out I was pregnant again was summed up in one word: fear. The day I found out, I was just stunned – I was just shaking and couldn’t think about anything else! The fear was a lump in my throat and a tightening coil in my stomach and I was so afraid to let myself feel any joy in case the worst happened again. Every twinge, every weird feeling and every second of that pregnancy was filled with fear. I tried to be joyful, and I desperately wanted to feel happy and hopeful, but my heart was firmly clenched in fear. The worst did end up happening, and as I was taken to the hospital in the middle of the night, I saw my dream for a family slipping further and further away.

Throughout this time in my life many of my friends and acquaintances had healthy, worry-free pregnancies and bore beautiful babies – I was full of so many conflicting emotions. These women were so important to me and I wanted to be fully supportive of all of them as they started this new chapter in their lives; I felt such incredible joy for them, but the sight of onesies, cribs, blankets and all things baby reduced me to sobs within minutes. As I got each phone call or announcement, I would immediately start crying as soon as I hung up the phone. Each of my friends was loving and supportive and understood how I was feeling – I was so happy for them, but so empty, sad, and confused. I never knew that such conflicting emotions could exist simultaneously in my spirit! I was truly happy for them, but I grieved for a long time for my babies that I wouldn’t be able to see grow up with all these new little ones in my life. I never ever begrudged my lovely friends their families, but I did often ask myself, “Why not me?”. It has only been recently that it occurred to me that, maybe, God was able to bring them to greater understanding of Himself and teach them lessons they needed to know through their children, whereas I was only able to learn mine by not being able to have mine for a time.

But God brought me hope. I can’t even tell you how, but He placed so many angels in my pathway to point me back to Him over and over again. So many people that, as I shared bits and pieces of my story, whispered “Oh, honey – me too” and wrapped me in empathy and tight hugs. Nurses that called me at home to check to see how I was doing and mailed me uplifting devotionals and sweet letters. Cards and notes from my loved ones. Hugs without words when I needed them, and a listening ear and coffee when I needed to talk. Prayers upon prayers for me and my husband.

My hubby was so, so important to me during my healing – he felt the losses deeply as well as we had both been anxiously awaiting the pitter-patter of little feet in our lives, but he was stronger than me in the aftermath. For months, he held me for hours on end and let me cry, not making me explain why I was sad that particular day. He prayed for me and with me when I couldn’t find the words, or when opening my mouth just made the tears flow again. Gradually, I found my voice to cry out to God again on my own, but without him being able to bridge the gap for me during that time, I would not have been able to turn my heart back to being able to talk openly to God as quickly as I did. A godly man by my side helped me see hope in spite of the sadness. He continually reminded me of God’s love and perfect timing, and let me be ok with not understanding, but would not let me lose hope.

When I was able to hold it together, I spent time reading God’s word, journaling, praying, and processing. I never blamed God for what happened, but I searched His word for verses of peace and healing and trust. I started to crave the time I spent in His word, and my life has never been the same. He revealed things to me during my study that I had never known or realized before, and I hold those discoveries dear to my heart. During this time I was also able to take care of some health issues that we had uncovered, and started to heal physically as well. I started to be able to exercise again, and made a conscious effort to eat clean and to be more healthy in all areas of my life. I started volunteering and stepped outside of my own little world for awhile. I felt a little like springtime at the end of a long frozen winter – the edges started to thaw a little, and I don’t know when, but I started to live and to hope again. Sometimes its hard to continue as you were before because it’s such a personal experience, and hard to share with the world, but at the same time you want everyone to know what has happened because you are changed completely by the experience. I shared with trusted friends and family as I was ready, and now, I share with you.

Miscarriage is common, and yet for each woman it is a different experience. We don’t really talk about it, and the world doesn’t seem to understand what it means to some women. For some, it is a blip on the radar, an insignificant event. After all, the doctors won’t consider it a medical issue or look into it until you have had more than two miscarriages. The innocently hurtful response to it is, “I’m sure there will be other children” or “Well, it is more common than you would think!” The problem is, for me, it wasn’t a blip on my radar. I wanted those children. My children. The lives that lived within me, since their first heartbeat. It’s not a matter of replacing; for me, it was a matter of mourning. They were important to me, irreplaceable to me, and a part of me.

My pregnancy with my daughter Evelyn was a day by day battle for me – we prayed for over a year, through positive health reports and drastically changed life circumstances, about when God was calling us to try again to have a baby. My husband and I both felt like God was calling us to step out on faith and try again for our family – still, I would hold my belly every morning and pray over her and anxiously hyper-analyze every twinge, every little change and would count her kicks constantly. Every time we went to the doctor for an ultrasound, or to hear her heartbeat, I was a ball of nerves, afraid that this would be the visit they would tell me something was wrong. I would tell myself a gazillion times a day that I could not have both faith and fear and that to have faith was to believe the best was going to happen and give it all to God. I had to pray my way through 9 months and remember that I was never in control of a single moment. Every minute of that pregnancy was an exercise in faith! Now, I have a beautiful daughter who doesn’t replace my other children, but is dearly beloved since I can hold her here on this earth. I keep her ultrasound photo on my fridge as a reminder that God answers prayers and that I must live each moment on faith alone. She’s running around the living room as I write – she astounds me. She grins at me with those little dimples in her cheeks and is so happy – she carries my heart around with her. I pray that everyone who suffers loss can one day experience having a child, but the truth of it is, even if I hadn’t been blessed with Evelyn, my relationship with my Father changed so drastically to the point where I was actually able to say “not my will but thine’. I desperately hoped and prayed that His will for me was to have children, but I eventually had peace in my soul that His plan for me was the best one, and if that didn’t include a family, He would still be my loving father and I would be ok. Ultimately this life isn’t about me or my children, it’s about obedience and submission to God and His will. I grew to love Psalm 71:14 which says ” As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

However, having Evie doesn’t magically erase what happened- I am still a major work in progress! I am still a mother who carries just a little bit of sadness with her every day, into every moment. I hold Evie so much tighter than sometimes is necessary and love her with a fierceness that surprised even me – I had this dream within my grasp twice before and had to watch it fall away, and so I have a fear that I will wake up one day and find her gone too. I feel like if I love her so much, I will not be able to go on if something happens to her. I have anxiety about her safety and if I can protect her. I start crying when she nestles her little curly head against my shoulder and I feel her sweet baby weight against my chest – I love her so much it hurts and sometimes can’t believe she is really here! Now my battle is to give her completely to God – I have to give Him my anxiety about her safety and trust that He loves her more than I do, and that she has been safely in His hands all along. Jeremiah 1:5 says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” — I know that she is His daughter first and foremost, and I have to have faith that He is watching over her. Sometimes, I also feel like I’m not allowed to have any off-days as a mom because I prayed for this for so long and she is such an answer to our prayers- how can I ever give anything less than 150% in the face of such a gift? But I know that all of these things are struggles that I need to work through with God’s help and that He will heal me of these anxieties as well.

I want to encourage you if you’re reading this and have gone through a miscarriage or are grieving in another way – if you’re there, you’re not alone. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says God “…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I know you feel swallowed whole by grief and feel that the world doesn’t understand, but I understand and God understands. The comfort of God has healed me and wiped away my tears and I can see the joy and hope again…you will too. Draw close to God. Pray when you don’t know what to say. Cry to Him, and through the Holy Spirit, He hears your pain. Have someone pray for you if you can’t find the words. In my going through this I hope you can find fellowship, and comfort and grace to face today. There is something supernatural about God’s healing – I can’t tell you a defined moment where I was able to move on, but God’s healing has done a mysterious work in my heart. I have sadness, but I have hope and joy. He has brought new life into my soul and spirit where I felt shattered and dead. My faith is stronger, my prayers are more fervent, and my marriage is on a better foundation. I am changed and stronger. I love the lines from Laura Story’s song Blessings:

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I can’t give you a definite recipe for success but I do know that prayer and the peace of the Holy Spirit are crucial to healing. You may never understand why, but try to focus on who God is, and that as your Father, He truly loves you and wants the best for you. It won’t always make sense, but just trust. It’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to be upset and even tell Him you don’t understand, but ask for comfort and he will soothe your hurts and bring you through to an even better place than you were before. When you lose what you thought you had, you begin to truly live by faith alone, and that is a beautiful place to be.

Jeremiah 31:13 “For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.”

Love, hugs and hope,
xoxo Erika

Dedicated to my two dear angel babies, and all of those sweet ones that are loved and were lost – we may never hold you in our arms, but you are held in our hearts forever. Rest peacefully in the arms of Jesus!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s