Today is a hard day. Not because of anything that happened but because of what didn’t. Today, I should’ve felt the pain of contractions wrap around my body. I should’ve been on my knees surrendering to their power. Or I should’ve been in the hazy, restless days of early postpartum. Overwhelmed by my new responsibilities, nursing a babe into the earliest hours of the morning. Or I should’ve been still waiting, no doubt impatiently, for those undeniable signs that a baby was on the way. Feeling that baby inside, nothing but knees and elbows at this point, praying that God would bring her soon.
None of that happened today. Today, I played “making coffee” with my toddler. I danced with her as she successfully ran to the potty. I made lunch and did laundry. The makings of a normal day. Except my heart has felt far from normal.
Even outside of myself, today holds significance for other people. 12. 12. 12. The last day of repetition in this century. 12:12 pm on 12. 12. 12. But for me, today is the due date that would have been.
It’s funny the way things change in us, in our lives and in our hearts. I remember embarking upon our new life together, planning our wedding and our future simultaneously. I remember how we had things laid out so perfectly, where we would live and where we would work. When our babies would come and how life would look. Everything was idyllic. So perfect it almost sparkled with possibility. And in honesty, much of that has come to pass. Some of it hasn’t. No one factors in the sadness or the unexpected into their future. Yet, that has unfolded in our lives too, in spite of all our “perfect” plans.
I’ve thought a lot about that tiny little body I held in the palm of my hand for only a few minutes. I thought of who she would’ve been, what she would’ve looked like, how her presence in our home would’ve molded our family into a new unit. What’s interesting is that she didn’t need to be here long to change us in deep and permanent ways. I’ve often heard a statement something to the effect of, “But if I’d had that baby, I couldn’t have the one that I do now. So I know that loss was for the best.” You won’t hear me say that. I’ve stopped trying to explain away miscarriage and loss to myself. Those statements are just earthly reasonings for things we don’t understand, and I’ve come to a place of peace with simply not knowing why. And while yes, it is true, that logistically I could not carry her and Abram simultaneously, it does not undo the connection that my heart will always feel to her life. Always. She is not the sacrifice that allowed us Abram. She is the life that lives in only our hearts for now.
I feel differently about things than I did 6 months ago. My heart has changed towards those experiencing pain I haven’t. I’ve learned to live more purposefully inside my redemption, not hiding the parts of my faith that are weak, being open about my struggles, and recognizing that the only times I’ve responded appropriately is purely and fully the power of the Holy Spirit inside me, never because my faith is strong or because I “chose” to respond in a righteous way. I’ve more fully understood the origins of my own redemption, which has allowed my heart to embrace mercy for others as it should. I’ve come to understand more deeply the role of the sovereignty of God in the face of suffering. I have found peace in the fact that no one stole her from us. No one snatched her from me while I was not looking. I do believe that death results because of the brokenness of humanity and that death was not a part of God’s original plan, but I also believe that God knew the number of her days and ordained those moments for His glory, even the suffering that we have experienced as a result. He is capable of using all things for His glory. Though I continue to struggle and wrestle with it regularly, I’m coming to terms with the purpose of my life being used solely for His glory, even when that means hard things in this life.
More than anything, I have arrived at a place where I have hungered for Christ to return and make things whole in a way that I never have before. As I’ve tasted the death and brokenness of this world, I have longed for completion in a fresh way. Where the sting of death doesn’t exist, where relationships are fostered in deep harmony. My heart has yearned for the halves to be made whole, for the fissures of separation to be covered so fully it’s as if they were never fractured. In its simplest form, my heart has said, “Come, Lord Jesus. Please come. Bring heaven to earth.”
So, today didn’t go as I planned, but there is rest in the knowledge that it went exactly as He planned. I messaged a friend at the beginning of the week asking her to please pray for me. As this day has approached, I have struggled hard especially the last two weeks with heavy emotion and a heavy heart. Having lived this herself, I felt she would understand me fully. And she did. More importantly, she reminded me of our future-- that yes, the last time I held her she laid still in my hand; but the next time I hold her, she will burst forth with life. This life is not the end. How fitting that today, my Christmas devotional would be about the purpose of Christ’s arrival. Piper wrote, “So we are free from the fear of death. God has justified us. Satan cannot overturn that decree. And God means for our ultimate safety to have an immediate effect on our lives. He means for the happy ending to take away the slavery and fear of the now.” While I am reminded today of her absence, I am also reminded of her presence-- that the verse we chose for her Psalm 27:4, is fully manifested in her life. And that one day, it will unfold in my life as well.
I woke at 4:30 this morning and immediately remembered what today meant for us. I laid in bed, overcome by sadness and hard memories that I don’t like to relive. Somehow, my little girl woke up at 4:30 too, something she never does, and I heard her singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to herself in her crib through the monitor for 20 minutes before she simply drifted back asleep. Simultaneously, my little boy who is always still inside me in the morning, started kicking and moving around as I laid perfectly still and listened to his sister sing, reminding me of his presence and his health. Their very presence filled me and reminded me … God sees and hears the hearts of His children, even when they hurt at 4:30 in the morning. And He not only sees and hears, He responds--in the most tender ways, bringing the comfort we don’t realize we need that is nothing short of divine. “As for God, His way is perfect…” Psalm 18:30