“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away…”
That was all I could choke out on Tuesday morning. I knew there was more to the verse, but I just couldn’t…or wouldn’t…say it.
Monday had gone by like a dream. After two miscarriages in the past year and months of infertility, I was finally pregnant. When I knew for sure that morning, my heart raced a little. Then I laughed with joy—and then I prayed: “Lord, protect this little life.”
All day I was walking on air. We got the news mid-morning that we had a new niece. I was delighted! With a heart so filled with happiness, it felt right that others should rejoice, too. We took a meal over and held the baby that evening. So precious! Ten perfect little digits that curled around my finger, and cheeks puffy after the trauma of birth. The smell of vernix on her skin reminded me of the miracle I would experience in a few short months.
But that night everything turned upside down.
The pain of miscarriage is confusing. I tried to sort it out on Tuesday morning when I had a few quiet hours to myself. There’s the obvious pain of loss. No matter how brief the life, God has designed mothers to bond deeply with their children. I sat alone and wept for the loss of my child.
There’s the pain of not knowing. I’ll never know in this life whether my baby was a boy or a girl…blue-eyed or brown. So many sweet, intricate details are lost to me. In our family, a favorite baby shower activity is to guess the gender, date and time of birth, weight, and length of each baby. Why? Because we love details! Each baby is a miracle, and each detail, down to the ounce, is spectacularly interesting. I wept because I cannot know.
There’s the pain of loneliness and misunderstanding. “Oh, it was so early on…you’ll get over it soon.” Outside of personal experience, most people cannot comprehend the feelings that accompany miscarriage. I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide from the world while I wept with the pain of loneliness.
There’s the pain of comparison and envy. The joy of having a new niece was dampened by the envy I felt toward my sister-in-law. I want my baby! It’s not fair! I wept because someone else had what I so desperately wanted.
There’s the pain of guilt. I have two beautiful, healthy children who keep me active and alert from sun-up to sun-down. (My youngest just stuck his heel in a pile of ketchup at lunch.) With hands so full, why do my arms feel empty? Feeling ungrateful, I wept with the pain of guilt.
There’s the pain of fear. Fear whispers, “Maybe you did something wrong. Maybe it’s a problem you’ll never discover. Maybe you’ll never be pregnant again. Maybe you’ll just keep losing babies. Maybe you’ll sink into depression and never climb out. Maybe…” I wept because I was afraid.
And finally, there’s the pain of anger. I had prayed, hadn’t I? I had begged God for this baby. I had asked Him to protect the little life inside me. Well? Hadn’t I already learned enough spiritual lessons from my previous miscarriages? I knew that suffering makes us more like Christ, but I was finished. I could have shouted out loud, “I don’t want to be more like Jesus—I just want my baby!” This is why I closed my lips after the first half of that verse: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” The end. I acknowledged God’s presence and power, but I wasn’t going to bless Him for it. Instead, I cried hot, angry tears and retreated further into myself.
Healing comes slowly, and repentance is a choice. The days have progressed despite my pain. I continue to cry, mascara clotting my lashes and salty spots drying on my lenses. I continue to wonder, Why, God? And it still hurts a little to hold that new baby, remembering I will not experience the same joy in a few months. But repentance (thinking differently) is a choice.
Today I chose to pray from Ephesians 1. God has blessed me in Christ. I am identified with Jesus. I share in His inheritance. Christ is the ruler over all authorities. All power has been given to Him. After a while, words started pouring out with more and more clarity. I asked for hope and peace—and joy. Not because I felt like it, but because it was right.
Finally, I knew I had to say it. Something told me the feeling would never come until I first made the choice. I felt like the little child whose parent asks, “Do you want to help me with the dishes?” The sullen reply is, “No, but I will.” Just like that, I picked up a “dish” and chose to obey:
“…blessed be the Name of the Lord. Blessed be the Name of the Lord. BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!”
And with obedience came a flood of peace.