Saturday, November 24, 2012

Choosing to Trust

The following is part of a series of posts that will take you on a (very personal) journey with me through the story of our family. If you are just now tuning in, take a minute to start back at the beginning and catch up: 

Post 1: A Journey
Post 2: Love Awakened
Post 3: Hope Deferred
Post 6: Faith Tested

I'm going to try to wrap this up in about 3 more posts. Can you hang with me? 

Our time in San Diego felt strange. Not exactly the mixture of emotions we thought we'd be experiencing on this family vacation. We didn't expect to need to research the nearest hospitals every day when we went on an outing just in case we needed to get there quickly. I had envisioned putting the boys to sleep early and then watching movies with Andy while cuddling on the couch and enjoying desserts. We did some of that, but our evenings were also filled with tears pent up from the day, long conversations trying to make sense of everything, and writing down my thoughts as I tried to process through my grief. 

I didn't want to miss this moment with my boys, but I felt like a shell of myself. I'd be fine one minute and then hiding my face from my kids the next to disguise the tears that had suddenly sprung to my eyes. 

There were three different components of what we were walking through: the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual. 

Physically we knew that the actual miscarriage could take place at anytime. Most of the time, a woman's body can do this naturally but my midwife had warned us that there are occasions where you have to go the hospital because of complications. This especially worried Andy so he was constantly checking on me to see how I was feeling physically. It kinda felt like the last week of pregnancy when you know labor could start at any time...we always had a contingency plan of what we'd do if that happened.

Emotionally we were both grieving. It felt like we had lost a child, or at least the hope of a child. This baby was deeply loved and long awaited. The pain ran deep.

I also grieved the loss of a joy-filled pregnancy. There was exuberant joy from every person that we had told that we were pregnant. Our hearts were so full and expectant that it felt impossible to keep the good news to ourselves. As I considered the thought of trying to get pregnant again, I understood that our next pregnancy will likely be received (by us and by others) with much more caution and even fear. Every expectant mom has the reality of miscarriage in the back of her mind. But when you have walked that road, the battle with fear is inevitable. I loved the unreserved excitement I had in sharing my joy with others. I felt like I lost that when I lost this baby.

And, though this may seem unimportant, I also grieved the loss of what I felt like was perfect timing for our family. A late June due date was great for the rhythm of Andy's schedule with his church responsibilities. Fall is always a busy time for the church, and next fall in particular we have already started planning some big things for South Bay. The timing was also great as a homeschooling mom because it provided about 6 weeks to get our feet back under us before needing to think about school. I could totally wrap my mind around a late June birthday...but now it felt like we were completely up in the air again.

Perhaps the most difficult thing to process, however, was the spiritual component of what happened. 

The day I found out I was pregnant, I had imagined God like a parent who just watched their child open the best Christmas gift ever. I imagined him laughing with joy and clapping His hands with delight. Now, as I looked back on that day, I had no idea what God was thinking while He looked on from Heaven. He knew that in 3 weeks time my joy would turn to grief like I'd never experienced. I wondered what He was thinking and feeling as He watched me rejoice. I didn't know what to make of it. One night I said to Andy, "I just can't imagine my earthly father ever doing something to wound me so deeply. How do I received this from my Heavenly Father who loves me perfectly?" 

I knew that it was important to keep filling my mind with truth instead of allowing Satan to fill it with lies. So, before we left on vacation, I grabbed Chip Ingram's book entitled, "God As He Longs For You To See Him". My perspective of God was suddenly very fuzzy and I needed a trusted source to hold my hand and remind me of all the things that the Bible teaches as truth about the character of God. 

I also wanted to be real and honest about all of my questions while still being respectful of God. I don't think that God is at all threatened by our honest questions and He wants us to pour out our hearts to Him. He's big enough to handle any emotion that we bring to the table and trying to disguise them is futile since He knows everything about us anyway. 

At the same time, we have to choose if we will come to God humbly or arrogantly. Seeking to understand or demanding answers. For example, one thing I've really struggled with is feeling like this chain of events in my life is cruel and mean spirited. After five and a half years of infertility, why even let us get pregnant only to take it away 7.5 weeks in? It would have been easier emotionally to not even get pregnant. So, I take that to God and lay it at His feet... "Father, to me, what just happened feels cruel. But I know that Your Word says that You are a kind and compassionate Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. How does what happened to me fit into the truth of who You are?"

The concept of prayer also left me with huge questions. Isn't praying for a child in accordance with God's will? He instructs us to "go forth and multiply" and tells us that "children are a blessing from the Lord." Doesn't the Bible promise that "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective"? Didn't Jesus teach that if we ask for anything in His name He would do it? Hadn't we prayed for years for a baby, received the pregnancy with gratitude and thanksgiving, and continued to pray DAILY for the health of this child? What went wrong?

I think anyone who says they have a clear understanding of how prayer works is probably a little crazy. Can we ever truly understand the Almighty? The truth is God does not owe me an explanation. He is God and He may do whatever He chooses. His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. They are far higher. Far better, and wiser, and more loving than what I can wrap my mind around. He reserves the right to not explain all the why’s of His choices and I have to remind myself that if I could understand everything about God, He would be no God at all. 

Andy, who was also struggling through this concept of prayer, described it like this... sometimes when he presents an idea to our kids, he has already made up his mind that that's the way it's going to be. It is his "will" and nothing that the kids say is going to change his mind. But there are other occasions that the plan is more flexible. He wants to hear their opinions and feedback and will take them into consideration as he makes the final decision. Andy said, "Perhaps, in God's Sovereignty, prayer is kinda like that. We don't know which decisions our prayers can effect and which decisions God has already divinely determined, so we should just pray about everything, always knowing that God has every right to make the final call."

When we live this way, ending every prayer with "not my will but Your's be done", we can rest in the confidence that we serve a Sovereign God who knows the end from the beginning and His plan is always best. This is how we can acknowledge the deep longings of our hearts while reminding ourselves that our deepest longing is for the Lord’s will to be done in our lives. 

One other idea that has helped show me the value of prayer is a quote by Charles Spurgeon: 
“We do not show our trouble to the Lord that He may see it, but that we may see Him. It is for our relief, and not for His information, that we make plain statements concerning our troubles. It does us much good to list our sorrows.” 
So that's kinda where I've landed with it right now. I'll keep pouring out my heart to God...telling Him all that I long for, asking Him all of my unanswered questions, and sifting through my every emotion at the foot of His throne. I'll keep doing that because I believe, in my heart of hearts, that He cares. That He loves me deeply. That He is a kind and compassionate and good Father. That He would not hurt me without cause or withhold from me without preparing something better. And I will remind myself that He is God and I am not. Even when I don't understand, I know that He can be trusted.

Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him. Job 13:15


Tine said...

Can't wait until we are sitting in His lap, finally able to grasp how good and graceful He was, finally understanding all His ways. Until then, it is so good to have His Word. To be able to tell ourselves what is true when all of our heart and mind is unable to grasp it. We have truth to hold on to. We are not lost!
Thank you for being honest and transparent, and helping us learn through your pain and your questions too!

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. (Lamentations 3:32, 33 NIV)

Gina said...

Hi Stacie,

My sincerest sympathies for your years of secondary infertility and for your recent miscarriage. Thank you for sharing so deeply and personally your experiences. I too, struggle with infertility and as the days pass, I begin to wonder if I will ever experience pregnancy and have a little one to call my own. It hurts me deeply and just keeps getting worse.

I am quite amazed by your faith. I honestly can't comprehend it. I was born and raised a Christian. I have prayed. I have tried to 'let go and let God', I have tried to be a better person, to be patient.. but I am just getting older and those eggs of mine aren't getting any healthier. Time is ticking and there is nothing I can do about it. The longer it takes, the less chance I have of conceiving. It kills me.

I too, ask God, WHY? Why not me? Have I done something wrong? Am I not meant to be a mother? Where is my baby that I have prayed for for so long?

I ask you, Stacie.... what good does praying do? Your husband prayed over you while your bled and wept. You miscarried anyway. What good did his prayers do? Did it make a difference? If we are not meant to have babies (or a second baby), and that is God's will, then what is the point in praying for it? You prayed your heart out AND lived a Christian life. You not only talked the talk, but you walked the walk. What good did those prayers do when that baby was taken away from you?

I am honestly asking, because I truly want to know. If God wanted us to have a baby... surely he would have given us one by now? Perhaps instead we need to pray:

"Please help me to accept your will, and get over and give up on this dream of having a baby."


I hope you still conceive and finally have your take home baby.

Prairie said...

Another beautiful post of honesty and hope. Thank you

Stacie said...

Hi Gina,

Thank you so much for your honesty and sharing your story with me. I can hear your pain so clearly through your words. I think this problem and pain and suffering in the world is perhaps the most difficult thing for me to get my mind around. I've heard all the cliche and trite answers, and that is not at all what I want to offer you. I just want to encourage you to keep wrestling with it and keep seeking truth. Don't give up and throw in the towel. I believe God will continue to reveal Himself more and more to you as you continue to seek Him. Have you ever heard of CS Lewis' book called "The Problem of Pain"? He attempts to take on this huge issue of pain and suffering and how it correlates with the character of God. Perhaps reading that may provide some clarity/comfort.
Gina, I am so, so sorry for the pain in your heart. I know how deep and real of a struggle it can be. You were on my heart as I fell asleep last night and again right when I woke up this morning. I'm praying for you.
Feel free to email me directly if you'd like...