Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Better? Part 1

Am I better? No, but I am not the same either. During the past few weeks I have sometimes felt that there was an expectation that I would be all-better. Yet in many ways I have only just begun to heal. I want to attempt to summarize what I have experienced over these past 6 weeks since losing Johannah with the hope that it will help someone else. I think there is often a misconception that if you are a Christian, you can't be angry or sad, that you are supposed to put on a happy face and talk about what peace you have. Don't get me wrong, when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you can have peace in the midst of even the worst storm. I was not without peace, but I would not say that peace was the predominant feeling either. For me, there was no extra measure of peace experienced as there had been in past trials.

Initially, I was in a state of shock, it was hard to believe that what had happened had actually happened. I was carried along by the prayers of others, and by the meals, cards, and flowers that came in the first week or so. The days went by in a blur, though there were definitely lots of times of deep anguish where I just sobbed as I would suddenly remember that we had lost Johannah. Often it was hearing Dr. S's words in my head again telling me that my baby had no heartbeat that would bring on these times. They are the most crushing words I have ever heard in my life. I was overwhelmed by the thought that we had lost the only baby we may ever have. This pregnancy was not easily achieved and there is no guarantee of another pregnancy. I find little comfort in the thought that "at least you know you can get pregnant." Just because I got pregnant once doesn't mean I will again and there is no comfort in getting pregnant if I can't/don't carry the baby to term.

The next phase I experienced was anger, at God, at the situation, and at the insensitive comments of a couple of people. This was certainly the ugliest stage of grief and not one I wanted to stay in. I was angry at God for leading us to do IVF and then allowing the outcome to be so different from what was expected. Of course, I was always concerned about m/c, but I could not imagine God allowing it, especially after everything else I had experienced in my life. It had seemed to me that my time had finally come. I had struggled for so long to believe God had forgiven me over past sins. I had struggled to trust God, to believe that He loved me, and to believe in His goodness. I had finally come to trust God, to believe in His goodness and to believe that He would still bless me. So when I miscarried I was so confused, everything I had believed God was doing seemed to be wrong. There were two things that really helped me get past this stage. The first was recalling what God had previously taught me. God was no less good and no less loving because the outcome was different that I expected it to be. He had shown me in the year preceding all this through several different circumstances that His plans are truly better than my own. He is all-wise and all-knowing, and His will is best. As I began to reflect on what He had taught me in the past I was able to once again place my trust in Him even though I didn't understand why everything happened the way it did. The second thing that really helped me was reading Beth and Niki 's stories. In both their situations the outcome was also very different from what would have been expected. As I read their stories the Lord reminded me that His thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways. Romans 11:33 says,

"Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!"

We just aren't going to understand certain things. For me that was enough. I accepted that I may not ever fully understand why we lost Johannah. Sometimes we just have to trust that God is sovereign and that He has a plan and a purpose for us and that plan is a good one (Jer 29:11). Also, I truly believe, as it says in Rom 8:28, that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. He had already shown me how He had used IF for my good. I trust He will do the same with the m/c.

I was also angry at God for yet another trial, truly I felt like I had had enough. When would my time come, I wanted to know. I felt like God was blessing other people, but not me for whatever reason. I felt forgotten, passed over, abandoned. This led to even greater anguish. I experienced a period (which thankfully turned out to be fairly brief) where God was silent. This also happened to be the period of time when the cards and meals and such stopped coming. In the past when I have cried out to God when I felt especially discouraged, I would get a phone call or email from someone or God would bring to mind a certain scripture. But this time there was none of that. I would cry out to God and there would be nothing. Thankfully, my church was doing a sermon series called "Where is God When...." I hadn't been able to go back to church yet, but I felt led to listen to the one that asked where is God when "He is silent" online. One of the things that helped me most from this sermon was when he said, "We do not determine whether God loves us or not by current circumstances, but by looking at the Cross." In "Experiencing God," Henry Blackaby says, and I'm paraphrasing, that the Cross is God's final, total, and complete expression of His love for us. It is the only evidence we need that He loves us. I began to spend a lot of time meditating on this truth. I found listening to music to be especially helpful during this time period. One of the songs I listened to over and over again is the hymn "There is a Fountain" (you can listen to Selah's version on my playlist if you scroll down to the bottom of my blog). This song really ministered to me as I thought about what Jesus did for us in dying on the Cross. It is so amazing that "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." The Lord began to pour out His love upon me as I reflected on this truth. I could not look at my circumstances, but rather I had to fix my eyes upon Jesus (Heb 12:2). After this, I was no longer angry at God and I no longer felt abandoned by Him. What I did feel was sadness, over losing Johannah and because of IF in general. Part 2 to come shortly.


Mark and Niki said...

The tears are streaming down my face. You have truly touched my heart in a way you may never know. I just found the comment you left on my blog weeks ago and responded. I completely understand that you are not "better." I also understand that is what so many will expect of you. The fact remains, you lost a your baby. A human being, your daughter. She was a real person, and you are forever changed. Johannah has changed the shape of your heart. That doesn't make any more or less room. It is just changed. I've had 2 losses, each very different. Every loss is different, but most recently, yours was so similar to mine. I've learned that normal is never the same. That doesn't mean it's bad. It just takes time to find the new normal. I personally struggle with dates. The "would have/should have been" kind of things. But I pray that soon, the good days out number the bad.

Than you for sharing your feelings so openly. HIS light truly shines through you.

Dave and Elaine said...

I want you to know you are in my prayers.

Stacey said...

This post is so beautifully written and is full of wisdom and strength. Thank you for being so honest about your experience - the sadness, anger, and grief, as well as the healing. I think these words can minister to so many. In fact, I wish I'd had them when I was going through any one of my miscarriages.

My favorite part of this post: "God was no less good and no less loving because the outcome was different that I expected it to be." What an awesome lesson that is. And thank you for the reminder that we need not look at circumstances but at the cross to see how much He loves us.

I'm so grateful for you and for this blog. I'm still praying for you Becky. I love you, my sister in Christ.

Dave and Elaine said...

Thank you for your sweet comment. I have no plans of not visiting your blog... :) I hurt so much for you after what you have been through. It is good to read your blog & see how God is bringing you through such painful circumstances one day at a time. Please know I pray for you and plead with God to just give you peace and to draw you closer to Him.

Stacy said...

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. I love to know who is reading so I can pray for my readers on the journey God has them on.

Your authenticity is refreshing - thank you for writing from the heart.

Oh how I grieved for my little ones lost and still grieve for them today.

Grief comes in waves when you least expect it. But every tear, ever ounce of anger, is part of the healing process if we let God use it as we 'walk through the fire.'

May you continue to find healing in the weeks and months ahead.

Keep in touch and I will be reading your blog to see what God is teaching you on your journey.