Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The magnifying effect

Grief has magnifying effect. It’s horrible and beautiful and transforms you at the core. Grief makes bad worse and good even better.

For me, grief was like getting a new pair of glasses. Everything around me immediately seemed clearer. More intense.

At first, all I saw was devastation. Not just my own pain, but also the pain of the world around me. Everything seemed so dark. So hopeless. So broken. All pain seemed more intense than it had before. The world seemed cold. I couldn’t so much as watch the news without breaking down at the reality of the evil that has penetrated our world.

As time progressed, my newfound vision began to magnify the side of grief that often goes unnoticed. I began to see things that I had never noticed before.

The beautiful side of grief.

Grief also magnifies the good. It has opened my eyes to the beauty in the world around me. 

The joys that I experience are more intense than they've ever felt before. Yes, the ache is still there. I don't think it will ever go away. I don't think it's supposed to before Heaven. I wouldn't want it to. 

Along with the ache comes a newfound appreciation for what is good. 

Life moves slower. 

Colors are brighter. 

Laughter isn't taken for granted. 

Compassion grows. 

A sunrise is no longer just a sunrise. It is a gift that I wasn't promised. 

New life is more miraculous than ever. I've seen that life isn't guaranteed, and I realize that all life is a beautiful gift that none of us are promised.  

I cannot look at the stars without contemplating my smallness. And God's greatness. 

Grief has caused me to fix my eyes on Heaven, and that has radically changed my perspective. Sure, I lose my focus at times. But grief has helped me to consider the promise that lies before us and just how beautiful that promise is. 

It has caused me to see how hopeless life is without the promise of salvation. Without the sacrifice of Jesus and the promise of Heaven for those who love Him.

Grief may have made the bad feel worse, but it makes the good feel ever better. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Wrestling with God

I didn't cry at first.

As the doctor spoke the words to me, I felt numb. Tired. Tired of crying, tired of grieving. Just tired. I laid in the hospital bed and took a slow, deep breath. I waited for the sobs to shake my body. Nothing came. And I hated that. How could my heart ache so deeply, yet no tears flow?

God, what now? Why us? Why again? 

I didn't understand. I still don't completely understand. Why would God, in all of His power, allow us to lose not just one, but two babies?

I knew that God was sovereign. I knew that He would take care of us. He had proven time and time again that He would provide for us. But I wrestled with Him. I yelled, I cried, I asked so many questions. I shook my first at the sky.

I had done the same thing after Ethan had died. It shook my faith. My prayers to God were often completely unfiltered cries of anguish and disappointment. Why? What the eff are you doing? (I mean, I filtered that for you just now, but you get the gist.) I ran into His arms with all of my anger. I imagine a child beating on their father's chest, screaming and kicking, with tears running down their face. That was me.

In my cries and searching for answers, God began to show His faithfulness. He did not love me any less because I asked questions.

God had sustained Ethan's life, when he should have died in the first trimester like his doctors suggested. God kept his weak heart beating into the third trimester and sustained his life long enough to allow us to hold Ethan in our arms while there was still breath in his lungs. Even after Ethan breathed his last breath, God continued to use Ethan to make an impact. To touch hearts. To make us more compassionate. To build new friendships. To slow down our pace. To quit sweating the small stuff and to prioritize the things that matter. Over time, I began to see the ways that something incredibly beautiful could come out of something incredibly devastating.

I was back at square one.

Let's be honest. I'm far from perfect. My faith has been rocked to the core this year. I've been angry. I've felt confused. I've deliberately hid from people so that I wouldn't need to reveal my pain. I've lashed out in anger. I've battled bitterness. There is nothing special about me--the only thing I have is the saving power of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for me- and that is everything.

My husband recently found this article from Relevant Magazine -- "Wrestling With God Doesn't Mean You Don't Have Faith" and it encouraged both of us. So many times, people are afraid to admit that they have doubts. They are afraid to admit that they have questions. They are afraid to admit that they are weak.

We don't help with this problem. We often combat their questions with empty phrases- "Just have faith!" "You need to believe!"

Friend, listen to me-- Wrestling with God does not mean you don't have faith. 

Wrestling is a fight. It is a constant struggle. But isn't that what is happening? Are we not in a fight against the enemy? Sometimes, in the fighting and kicking and screaming is where we find God. Where He comforts us in our brokenness.

My favorite scripture is II Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness." Why good would it be if I had it all together? God uses our flaws to display just how mighty He is.

I'm still wrestling. A lot.

But I know that He remains steadfast, gentle and loving, no matter what questions I throw at Him.

Below are a few excerpts from the Relevant Magazine article, by Kiara Goodwin. I encourage you to read the entire thing HERE.

Feeling guilty about admitting struggles or asking for help is not from God. That guilt comes from our own sin. It’s prideful to think we can do life alone, handling all our problems without the help of others. We need community to walk alongside us in tough times, but more importantly, we need a Savior. Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
God’s followers have been grappling with His Plan since the beginning of Creation. Throughout Scripture, there are stories of fathers of the faith questioning God, arguing with Him, trying to hide from Him, and even physically wrestling with Him (Genesis 32:24).
Unresolved feelings of anger and bitterness between friends can fester like an old wound. Pushing negative feelings down by swallowing them whole rather than working through them means they’re bound to come back up. Being vulnerable about hurts and fears and having the tough conversations shows the other person that salvaging the relationship is valuable. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is no different
Letting God burrow into our souls—opening up our deepest hurts and doubts and fears —is an ugly process. It often brings years of unresolved pain and fears to the surface. Yet, entering into the fight to move forward shows we have faith in God’s goodness, even if we can’t feel it in the moment

Sunday, April 10, 2016

To my littlest love

To my littlest love,

From the first moment that I suspected your existence, you were loved. 

At the moment that your existence was confirmed, that love multiplied. 

Although once broken, my heart opened to you without hesitation. 

You broke down the walls. You captured my heart. 

We never met you. 

We never held you. 

We never kissed you. 

But you were ours.

You are ours. 

I love you so, sweet baby. 

I long for the day that I can look you in the eyes and hold you close. 

You and your brother.

My sweet babies. 

I love you always,