I have two friends who lost babies recently.
For both, these were unexpected pregnancies. Absolutely crazy circumstances, physically. Emotional roller-coaster rides as each moved from "Oh, wow, we're having another baby. Are we ready for this?" - to - "Something is wrong..." - to - "Everything is going to be okay..." - to - no more baby today. Shock, anxiety, joy, anticipation, fear, longing, relief, loss, grief. So many emotions piling in on one another, like the rough surf on a stormy beach. No time to "process" in between.
Both of these women have challenged me in two significant ways. First, even in the midst of turmoil and sorrow, both have demonstrated unshakeable confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God. Underneath the confusion and the sense of great loss, both women possess and have communicated to those around them a very real sense of deep, soul-strengthening joy, a confidence that God is doing something very good in the midst of their awful circumstances, a firm belief that indeed, all shall yet be very well.
Second, both have been so honest, so open, so transparent about their grief. They have not denied or downplayed the true awfulness of their circumstances. The pain is real, the loss is huge, the tears are many - not because they do not trust God and His goodness, but because they DO trust God and His goodness. Because God is sovereign and God is good, these women are free to genuinely grieve, to say "This hurts really, really bad."
I picked up somewhere over the years the very wrong thinking that if I really believed in the sovereignty of God, then I should be happy all the time. That grief or sorrow which amounted to more than a few brief tears reflected a lack of faith. I thought - wrongly - that if something hurt badly, you ran away from it. Didn't talk about it. Did whatever mental and emotional gymnastics you had to do to "get on top of it." If I was scared or sad or hurt, I just needed to trust God more, pray more, read Scripture more.
That, dear friends, exposes in me a complete lack of personal integrity. Ouch.
So yesterday was a kind of difficult day for me. Nothing as traumatic as losing a child, no. But an old dragon - one that beat me up for a long, long time - reappeared, scales hissing across the hardwood floor as it raised its ugly head and blinked sleepy eyes. Woke up some old fears, old hurts, old questions that still haven't been answered. And my first inclination was, "I need to get outside by myself for a while, wipe away these tears, get a handle on my emotions..." Don't say anything. Don't tell anyone that you're hurt or fearful.
But, partly because of the example of the two women above, who demonstrated such unshakeable faith in the middle of horrible circumstances, I did not run away. I stood and spoke. (Yes, my insides were shaking like jelly.) "I am so afraid..." I don't know which was scarier - seeing the dragon again, or verbalizing my fear.
I'd like to say that at this point, there was an epiphany, a great spiritual breakthrough as a celestial army descended upon the scene in a huge shaft of glorious light, singing "Hallelujah! Glory to God!" You know, a turning point, where we can say, "Great! Everything finally worked out okay! Let's wrap this baby up with a bow and get it out the door!"
Nah. No beams of light. No music.
Instead, one witness of my timorous admission of fear responded sardonically, "You need to just get over it." Another counseled, "If you're afraid, well, you don't need to say anything about it. Just let it go."
I think I'm finally learning, though, that when you "just let it go," the dragon doesn't really go away. It's like looking the other way and pretending the dragon isn't there. That just opens up your backside so that the dragon can sneak up and bite you in the butt. I've been playing that hide-and-seek game too long, and it is not fun.
So, today, I have a difficult conversation that I need to have with someone I love dearly. It's not about something they've done wrong or some way they've hurt me. No, it's about my being afraid. This person probably doesn't need to change a thing about our relationship - but he does need to know who I am and what scares me. And I can have this conversation - do this big scary thing - not because my fears are bigger than my faith, but because God is bigger than my fears. And He is sovereign. And He is good.
Sometimes, life hurts. But even in painful circumstances, I have the assurance that God is indeed doing a very good work. That all shall yet be very well. That, my friend, gives me great joy...even when I'm looking into a dragon's fiery gullet.
I am free to hurt, free to weep, free to fight, free to hope, and free to rejoice. Hallelujah! Glory to God!
1 month ago