“Love isn’t always the kind that you hold.
I will be here waiting if you can let go.”
The last time I really listened to this song, I was eight+ months pregnant, in the middle of some life upheaval, and I told God I would trust him. He soon requested that trust when my newborn son was hospitalized, asked me if I’d believe that He was good even if he took my son away. He let me keep him.
Then there was another baby, due to be born this week, in fact. One I didn’t get to hold. We found out in October that I was pregnant, then found out in December that I would miscarry. By the time we had an ultrasound, there was no visible baby, although the gestational sac, my pregnancy symptoms, and my belly had continued to grow for almost 12 weeks. It was called a blighted ovum, meaning either the baby had stopped growing and had already been reabsorbed by my body, or it never grew big enough to be visible by ultrasound, or was some sort of strange, glitchy conception where the baby never quite came to be at all (if that’s even possible?) though my body continued to think it did. No one really knows for sure. We thought things resolved “naturally” in December/January, then found out in March after starting to suspect a new pregnancy that they had in fact not resolved and would require a D&C.
I’ve thought several times about writing about this miscarriage before now, was willing to, I just simply didn’t know what to say. As strange as it sounds, I didn’t really feel qualified to say much because I felt like, by God’s grace, I had had a relatively easy time through it all compared to the devastation I know many people feel after a miscarriage. Of course there were a few somewhat difficult moments, like learning to navigate the experience as a couple, knowing that our son wouldn’t have a sibling as close in age as we had hoped, knowing that our baby would have gotten to share a birth year with two new cousins, and dealing with some feelings of isolation when people didn’t know how to respond, especially since my experience with the miscarriage happened more fully several months after others had moved on. Still, despite all the strangeness and processing it has involved, I can’t say that I have any big lessons to share or feelings to vent. I only really have one thing to say about it.
That’s really what I feel about it. Yes, there is some disappointment, but it’s okay. And I don’t discredit any of the feelings of other people who have miscarried or lost someone else in their life and feel like it’s not okay. But for me, it is.
Why? Well, for one, I believe it’s by God’s grace, something not coming from myself. That peace that passes understanding that he can give even when it doesn’t make sense. There were also several things that made it easier than it could have been. One, I suppose, was not quite knowing for very sure that there was really fully a baby to grieve, or only the hope of one. While that made the experience harder in a way, it also made it easier that we never actually saw our baby on the ultrasound screen, didn’t have that more visible image of our baby to mourn over. And, while every life is precious and having one child never replaces another, I do think that, for me, it does help that I have my son to focus on and appreciate, and to eliminate some of the fertility concerns that a miscarriage might bring for someone without a living child. It also helped that I knew it was coming before it happened because of the ultrasound, rather than what I suspect would have been a more traumatic experience of my body miscarrying without a prior warning, and the fact that I knew that at least at that point there was no visible baby I was losing. It’s strange how things like that can turn into things to be thankful for, but all of those things and more were gifts of grace that made things a bit easier.
But above all that, regardless of that, what is really the thing that makes it okay and would have helped me no matter what the circumstances, is the firm belief I have (or at least that I continue to strive to have) that God takes away nothing, never will, that was ever mine to keep in the first place. Everything I have is a gift from Him, undeserved. And everything tangible I have, people included, is something that he has merely entrusted to me to be a steward of for a season. This is not my Home, this earthly life is not permanent for any of us, and therefore my loved ones are simply my traveling companions for a time on this journey. Kind of changes my perspective on the way I treat them, what kind of value I place on them, when I say it like that. On one hand, I don’t want to make an idol out of anyone in my life and be unwilling to give them up when God asks. Because I’ll have to at some point, and I’d rather accept that all along than deny it and then be resentful when the time comes. At the same time, the temporary nature of life makes me value them more, want to treat them better and make the most of our time together, rather than wasting it on things like being half-present with them or getting annoyed with them over petty things. I guess it makes me want to love people better.
I was kind of confused about why God would have me go through this experience of a miscarriage if it wasn’t going to be an incredibly powerful thing for me or teach me some major life lesson. But maybe that quiet little purpose was enough: making me want to love people better. Maybe that’s not so little a thing to learn.
I think that it has been helping me love my son better and appreciate my time with him more. Sometimes I have those moments where I just love him and love having him so much that I really hope I don’t lose him, and sometimes the fear creeps in, that fear most parents, especially mothers, probably know. He once had a life-threatening allergic reaction, one he likely would have died from if we had put him to bed as planned, rather than my husband deciding to give him a bath and then noticing the symptoms, taking them seriously, and knowing to give him Benadryl and take him to the hospital. Kind of freaks me out to think I probably would not have done the same, or that my husband could have made a different choice, or that it could happen again, or that any number of things could happen. The world can start to look to a parent like one big minefield, if you let it.
“There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18
Once recently I had one of those moments, standing over my son’s crib in the night thinking about the possibility of losing him and trying not to fear. So I decided to pray. And as I tried to figure out what exactly to pray for, I realized that yes, I can pray for a long and healthy life for him, and God may answer that prayer, but the knowledge was still there that each one of us has a limited amount of time here, and that God chooses in his wisdom and sovereignty when to allow our time here to end. No, death is not the way it was supposed to be, but he has made it ok, made a way for us to live forever, free forever from the sorrowful trappings of this life. And he can bring good from anything, even from the death of his children, can use it to bring about beneficial things in other people’s lives even in the midst of the pain, and is maybe even sparing his child from painful things they would have had to endure had their days been more numerous.
As my sister-in-law said to me yesterday, the most important thing isn’t necessarily living to the age of 90, but living a full life and accomplishing the purposes God has for us. People who live to 90 don’t automatically achieve that just because they’re 90. There are things more important than an abundance of days. I knew it on that night as I stood over my sleeping son, and I remembered the lyrics to a popular song about dying young, the line that always fills me with a sense of peace despite the chilling nature of the song: “I’ve had just enough time.” I’ve thought before that if I happen to die someday at an age that would seem young to those I leave behind, I hope that they will know that it’s okay, that I’ve had just enough time. In that moment, I knew that was the most important thing I could ask of God for my son: Enough time. A long time would be wonderful, and I’m asking God for that, too. But enough time, that’s what would give me the most peace. That’s what I prayed for that night, what I needed in order to calm those fears that creep in. I needed God to promise me that he would give my son enough days to accomplish the purposes he created him for. Admittedly, I also petitioned a little for Him to remember how many wonderful qualities and talents I know my son must have in that little heart of his and how they might be used in wonderful ways if He would give him a long life in which to use them. But I could lay it all down and trust Him if He would just please promise me enough time for this little boy.
My gracious, loving God did indeed give me that much-needed promise in the dark of my son’s room that night. Immediately, he brought this verse to my mind:
“…all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139:16
He reminded me that each of my son’s days, and mine, are known to Him, have already been ordained by him. Yes, it’s our responsibility, with His help, to make the most of it by using them with wisdom and intentionality. But he promises us enough time.
Thank you, Lord.
I believe that God’s promise of enough time is true for my second child just as much as my first. It seems that perhaps I was the biggest beneficiary of that time. He or she was a gift to me, a precious reminder to make the most of my days with these people I love, seeking after this God I pursue, who pursues me, too, with his great love. Our time on earth might be temporary and many of the things we have might be temporary, but some of the things we can do with it can be lasting and permanent, He tells us. We can give it away, with love and intentionality, and gain treasure in heaven in return. So, little would-have-been-June-Baby, you are a treasure to me, in heaven, because you helped nudge me a little farther along the path of pursuing Treasure in Heaven, treasure that lasts. I look forward to getting to meet you someday. 🙂
“Love isn’t always the way that we mean.
Just like you are right now is all that I need.”