“Please, don’t say congratulations. You have no idea how this will end up.”
This thought has gone through my head time and time again. Pregnancy after miscarriage is like constant pricking from a porcupine. At the beginning I found myself with mixed emotions, stumbling to throw up and struggling to communicate my feelings. I couldn’t explain why I wasn’t full of happy anticipation about this new life, but yet had deep gratitude held loosely in light of an uncertain future.
I watched my social media feed, aching as another post of miscarriage or infertility was confessed before the world, wanting to reach through the phone to hold my Instagram acquaintance and tell her it’s going to be okay. In my head I would tell her God is still good and with his help the hurt could grow something beautiful in her she didn’t even know existed.
I swapped stories with other terrified, pregnant warriors and wondered if I had made my story up, as if somehow those other babies didn’t really die and I had eaten something bad. If I hadn’t been throwing up every hour, feeling like someone had drugged me, I would have lived as if this pregnancy was a figment of my imagination. I distanced myself from all things feeling—a loving God, a growing baby, a faithful husband. If I didn’t feel, then it couldn’t hurt again.
I Am Not Who I Pictured
This survival strategy would make no one proud. Yes there’s grace, but that doesn’t mean my response was good, pretty, or healthy. I picture a beautiful, strong women sitting upon a stallion with her hair blowing valiantly in the wind. She is brave. She has the force of God-fearing gumption bestowed upon royalty. She has handled the years of my life way better than I have. She is not me, and I glare at her. I used to think it was me. It’s not. Instead, I have been given a batch of reality that’ll probably last me a lifetime. I will never be her; only Jesus is the hero.
One day I realized I had chosen not to be attached to the growing baby inside of me. I watched my vibrant almost three-year-old with deep affection thinking, At least we have her. The problem is that we won’t always have her. Her days are numbered; they are not dictated by me. I needed something else to hold on to.
I finally laid myself honest before God: the good, the bad, the ugly. Here’s what I know, here’s how I feel (which revealed what I really believed) and here’s the reality of who I am: I am flawed and possibly angry. “Forget pretending, I’m not as strong as I really did think, and you’ve got to help me, God. You’re the only one who can.”
Lessons of Grace
With my plea for help, grace began to warm up my cold thoughts. Now I’m feeling again, slowly but surely. Here’s what I’m learning in this fresh season of grace.
I have to be in God’s Word. If I am a deep-sea diver, this is the air in my tank. Satan will relish luring me away, and my flesh will kill for extra sleep, food, or entertainment. However, if I want to have life, knowing what the Life-Giver says about it is clearly not negotiable.
When I withhold grace from myself, it is blatant arrogance. And the result is withholding grace from others as well. Life without grace is hard to the touch. It’s miserable, especially when you know what you’re missing.
I have to be honest . . . before God, before others, before myself. Pretending I’m in better shape than I am is simply a paved way to hell, not hope.
I have to pray. Not in a trite asking-for-everything-under-the-sun-I-think-I-need sense, but an evoking Hebrews 4 sense. He promises to show up, and I get to come before a throne of grace. Not a throne of hatred or “I told you so’s.” I’ve told a thousand women that very thing. Season after season I have comforted hurting women by pleading with them on behalf of the Great Comforter with this very sentiment. There’s no trick equation, it’s just asking for help in your time of need.
I need grace that results in patience. Yes, the anger and bitterness grown within a person is sin. Thankfully Jesus died to overcome and forgive sin. That’s why I can read Romans 5 and have hope. I am a broken sinner whom Christ died for, not some beautified warrior riding a stallion.
There was a song on repeat for a good six months when as a family we decided to radically change the trajectory of our lives. We moved across the country to a whole new world, wrecking our comfortable community and life as we knew it. Everything we had known up to that point was sheltered in a pretty Southern culture and laced with nice, Reformed theology. It was quite satisfying. But babies died, we moved to a whole new culture, and our lives flipped upside down. I prayed to God a song that’s been on repeat in our home of late:
Why is life so messy? Why is pain a part of us? There are days I feel like nothing ever goes right, sometimes it just hurts so much. . . . But you’re here, you’re real, I know I can trust you. Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart. I will run to you, cause I know that you are lover of my soul, healer of my scars. You steady my heart. You steady my heart.
And that’s just it. He doesn’t promise life free of scars. I bet the woman on that stallion has scars. Jesus does—that’s what makes him our hero. And he promises to steady us. That’s what I’m counting on.
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.
Article originally featured on The Gospel Coalition on March 5, 2014.