On our getaway, I read a book on suffering called “Holding Onto Hope” by Nancy Guthrie (I think I may have mentioned that book in previous posts). My aunt had read it after she lost her daughter (my cousin) at a young age. I will NEVER forget the night I found out my cousin was killed in a car accident. That night is etched in my mind forever. My aunt, knowing our situation, thought that this book would bring some comfort, understanding, and almost relief in the sense that what we are feeling is okay – she knew because she’s been there. She was so right! I would say anyone who has lost someone or has gone through significant loss, should read this book. It is a short book, but there is a lot to reflect on – I had to take notes! There is also an excellent Bible study on the book of Job in the back of the book. The whole book is based off of Job’s life – definitely gave me a better perspective on life after reading this book. I will try to explain the best I can, what I gained from this book – again, I will put the words from the book in italics, with my comments below.
Also, in talking about this book, will probably bring out how I dealt with the suffering in our life. By all means what I experienced and how I reacted, may or may not be normal – but this is just what I experienced. I am past a lot of this, but I thought it might be helpful to share, as I know there are many others, who have gone through significant loss as well.
Culture is uncomfortable with sadness. Churches and crowds are hard when grieving.
When I read these two sentences, I felt this HUGE burden lifted. It has been interesting to experience the responses of people. You really learn a lot about people. I will be the first to say, that sadness is uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s hard to know WHAT TO SAY. I am going to say it right now – from my experience, you don’t have to say anything at all. I remember the gentle hugs of people. The meals. Those who cried with us, with no words. Those who just said “I don’t know what to say.” Sometimes it is just better to say nothing at all – I feel in our situation, there were/are just no words.
And when there are no words, churches and crowds are hard. Boy oh boy is that ever true! I remember when I left the house for the first time after we lost the babies. I was scared. I didn’t want to see anyone I knew. It made me nervous to leave our house. I feel I am still a little bit like that – I was a home-body before (though out-going), but even more so, I am just comfortable being in the comforts of a home – unless I am with Dan. I have become more comfortable going out on my own, but I still think about it. Going away WITH Dan for 10 days was very helpful. Why are crowds so hard? They are overwhelming – I felt there was so much going on inside of me, that the last thing I could think about was other people. I know that sounds horrendous and very calloused, but it was true. I had so much going on in my own heart and mind that even seeing a lot of people, stressed me out. That is why the first Sunday after the loss of our babies, we sat in the back of a church. I knew the tears were always right at the surface, ready to show their face on my face – I just didn’t want to lose it in front of a lot of people.
In crowds of people, I felt like I had to put on a front – that I had to try and act like everything was okay. That is hard when your head and heart are grieving so heavily. I remember going back to work and there was a woman who was looking for a book on miscarriages – how do you hold yourself together after a week of grieving? Thankfully I did not lose it in front of the customer, but in the back of the store, I did. I’ve talked previously about “triggers” and often you don’t know what those triggers are until it’s too late. That is why crowds are so hard – the last thing I wanted was to cry uncontrollably in front of a lot of people. I LOVED when I could cry at home with just a few people there. I felt it was “safe.” In crowds, it didn’t feel safe.
Job 1:21 – Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
One thing that Job did do was PRAISE God. That first week, I thought “how in the WORLD am I supposed to praise God?” I had a hard time singing, without crying. There were times when Dan and I would hold hands, ready to pray, and there were no words. None. We just told God “Lord, you know what is on our hearts. Amen.” But I do remember thinking, “even though our babies were only in the womb for 3 weeks, it was 3 weeks that no one can ever take away.” For that, we were thankful. We were praising God that for 3 weeks, we had our own children. We praised God that He gave to us in such a unique manner – that He would choose us to give these two little children to. Yes, God took them away, but what a gift they are!
We are stewards of the gifts God has given us. Am I ready for God to take away? I didn’t earn or deserve them. I loved these 3 sentences because this is what we valued so deeply when deciding whether or not to do embryo adoption. We understand that not everyone may agree with us, but at the same time, the biggest argument people had was that those embryos are OURS. Yes, God would bless us with them – but we did NOT earn or deserve them. We had to be willing to give them up. We felt that by creating multiple embryos, that we would allow the best opportunity to have a family for ourselves, and then in turn, give the gift to another family. Yes, we only did two after much discussion between us 4, but through that whole process, God was preparing our hearts to have him take away. We just didn’t know it would be the two embryos inside Brenda’s womb. We didn’t earn or deserve those either. God has done so much work on our faith. We had NO clue that God would challenge us the way He did through this whole process. Though much is not known as to the whys, one of the reasons God took us down the road of embryo adoption was to prepare us for the loss of our two little ones. God knew what He was doing.
Am I ready for God to continue to take away?
Oh man, that is a hard question. In my heart, yes. Emotionally? No. Everyday though, I wake up knowing that at any moment, something life-changing could happen. It feels as if we’ve had too many of those days lately, but they have all drawn us closer to God. God can take away more in our life. That is why we are humbled by WHO God is. He is sovereign – an aspect of God’s character that I absolutely treasure.
I will have more posts on this book, coming up!