I did not say this right after our first miscarriage, eight months ago. (We gave birth to Luke — our sixth child — when we thought we would be giving birth to our fifth. Almost to the day.) We were just five or six weeks pregnant when we lost that baby, and I still took for granted that we could have healthy babies whenever we wanted them. We had four, after all, ages four and under. Bing bang bam. No problem.
We’d had our positive pregnancy test for about a week and already our plans were taking shape. We’d decided Kerry’s vacation schedule, thought through room arrangements for the new baby, imagined the various stages of pregnancy. And then the bleeding started and it didn’t stop. I experienced denial. This doesn’t happen to me. I almost always get what I want, and I don’t want this. God doesn’t let bad things happen to me. I didn’t really expect the confirmation of miscarriage, which came only after blood tests that measured hormone levels. God would step in and fix it somehow. But there it was. I wasn’t pregnant anymore. Our baby was gone.
Physically it was almost a non-event. Emotionally I was thrown. I felt spiritually lethargic for the next two months. I had no desire to talk to God, no desire to listen to him through his word. Just weary and sad and tired, I thought.
But it was worse than that. I was angry at him. I didn’t like the fact that he didn’t do things my way, according to my plan. I hated that I wasn’t consulted and had no control — that I couldn’t even hold onto the baby in my own womb. I didn’t like what God had allowed, and in a particular fleeting, unguarded thought, I was dismissive, condescending and rude toward my Creator and King. Whatever, God. Whatever.
It shocked and scared me. I hadn’t known it was in me to be that way — had never seen that darkness in my heart. I knew — didn’t I? — that it didn’t make sense to be angry at God. He’s perfect, I’m not. If there’s error, it’s on my side. I’d tsk inside at people who admitted to such impractical emotion.
So it was hard for me to recognize, and admit, that I was breaking the rules of my own doctrinal logic. Hard for me to see that, despite all my “right beliefs,” I could indeed be angry with a perfect God, and pass judgment on his actions.
And then I was blown away by God’s gentle mercy in the face of my sin. The weeks after that were marked by revelation. I felt like God was teaching me one big thing after another. I could actually feel my heart changing. Things I had long considered important changed dramatically in my estimation, and not because I willed them to change or intentionally shifted my priorities. Certain things just became small. I felt humbled, but not ashamed. I experienced a freedom in areas I hadn’t even known were slavery. It was amazing and rich and beautiful.
Then I got pregnant again. A couple of weeks after the initial excitement I started to experience the first trimester in earnest. It was harder than the others. The nausea was worse by far. I was exhausted and pulled out of the few regular community events I was in because it was too much to get four kids out the door. My back started hurting, badly, almost immediately. I felt lonely, but too tired to do anything about it. Those weeks seem foggy looking back. I was self-pitying. I complained a lot, and felt resentful about the hard work of motherhood. It was time to consider “stopping” I told Kerry in moments of frustration, even though we both feel convicted to trust God to give us the children he wills.
This dark mood lifted as the physical symptoms eased, but left me very aware that I have not “arrived” when it comes to bearing up well under physical trials.
Still, the fact that my heart and mind have reacted so differently in this tragic loss of another child tells me God didn’t waste our first loss. Even without my willing participation and studious application, he taught my heart.
I know — not just in theory, but real experience — that I’m not in control, and that knowing has driven away the anxiety that comes with thinking I am. We didn’t lose Luke because of something I did or didn’t do. His death isn’t punishment for some past sin, and he didn’t die so God could teach me something.
The God who is sovereign over all circumstances is, in ways big and small, present and loving and gracious and gentle. I trust him.
I trust him.