He is Still Good
On June 16, I found out I was pregnant.
The rush of excitement quickly followed by panic (because who ever feels ready to take care of a baby human?!) was completely overwhelming. But the joy overpowered the fear. Father’s Day was two days later, so I raced over to Target, bought a Father’s Day card and then, nearly glued my lips shut so that I could surprise my husband with the news that Sunday.
When Sunday morning came around, I coaxed Andrew out of bed to his normal coffee-drinking, Bible-reading spot on the couch so that I could give him his first Father’s Day card. As he opened the card and read the note inside, his reaction was everything I could have imagined and more.
As we sat there together that morning, we cycled through all of the emotions together. We (ok, me) had a minor meltdown about how drastically our lives were about to change. We argued back and forth about when we could tell friends and family. We took bets about whether it was a boy or a girl (or twins, which my husband decided he wants very badly – to which I responded that he could carry them for the next nine months). But most of all, we smiled and laughed and gave thanks because God is so good.
In the midst of all of this, we were preparing for a move to Houston. We had found the perfect house in the perfect location that would accommodate all three (!) of us and also accommodate my parents, who were were planning to move with us.
With all of the excitement brewing about these big changes, we could hardly wait to share our news.
So, one week later on my 30th birthday, we told our families about the baby. We knew it was early, but we also knew that we wanted their support in case something happened with the pregnancy. Their joy only magnified our own.
My 30th birthday was one of the best days of life. I was pregnant with our first baby, our families were overjoyed with the news, we had an accepted offer on our dream home, my husband and sister threw the birthday party of a lifetime (complete with secret non-alcoholic margaritas), I spent the day surrounded by all of my favorite people and I was even able to drag my husband to his very first OrangeTheoryclass. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.
Still, I had this quiet whisper in the back of my mind…“It’s too good to be true.”
This little whisper pops up every once in a while. A reminder of the times that I’ve been disappointed in the past. A reminder of the moments that I felt foolish for allowing myself to feel excited only to have everything fall apart. A reminder of the days when I felt confused and disappointed by God, doubting whether He really was good.
This couldn’t be one of those times. God knew I couldn’t handle that. This was the first time in a very long time that I actually felt excited. That I let myself feel excited.
But on June 29, we lost our baby.
After seven hours in the emergency room, multiple blood tests and several doctor’s visits, it was confirmed. I had experienced a miscarriage. That same day, we got a call that our dream home became our nightmare home as inspections revealed several repairs that made it far outside our price range.
We lost a baby and a house that day. It was the worst day of my life.
I remember laying on the couch trying to breathe between the steady stream of tears. But these initial tears were not because of sadness. They were flowing from a rising anger. With every sob, I could feel frustration and disappointment and confusion expanding in my chest. I had let myself dive headfirst into the waves of excitement and anticipation and joy. Those emotions had felt so vulnerable, so trusting. And now I just felt foolish. And I doubted God’s goodness.
In my job, I often train people about the process of grief.
After the initial shock and denial wears off, there is a stage of anger and/or sadness. Some people feel sadness right away. But sometimes, you’re not ready for the sadness, so you deflect to anger. Anger is less vulnerable. It feels stronger, easier, safer. But you have to let yourself feel the sadness in order to experience the healing.
My anger ultimately gave way to my sorrow. And I cried. A lot. I never knew that you could grieve someone you’ve never even met. Someone so unformed and so tiny. But I grieved our little one with all of my heart. I grieved for the memories I would never have with him or her (or both, if my husband’s dreams had come true). I grieved for the months that would roll by that my womb would be void of that life. I grieved for the fact that I would never name or hold or know that baby here on this earth.
But I also grieved for all of my friends and for those of you I don’t know who have already walked through this. I grieved for the moments that I didn’t know what to say or how to comfort you. I grieved for the way the doctor asked me whether I had even wanted this baby and that a question like that even needs to be asked. I grieved for the fact that I found some sort of comfort in knowing that my baby went straight into the arms of Jesus and never had to experience the brokenness of this world. And eventually, I grieved the fact that life keeps going.
The last eight years have been hard years.
They were the years that produced those fears of letting myself feel happy. They were the years that I spent building up a sturdy wall around my heart so I never had to feel anything too deeply.
Toward the end of those years, I started seeing a counselor. One day during our session, I started spouting off my typical I-feel-stuck-and-numb complaints (basically the theme of my 20’s). I was at the beginning of my dating relationship with my husband and I was cautious and careful and refusing to let those blissful little butterflies anywhere near my stomach.
She explained to me that if our life were a straight, horizontal line and we were to plot the experiences and emotions of our life along that line, it would be filled with curves of joys arching up above the line and the dips of sorrows reaching down below the line. But sometimes, when the lows feel too low, we try to push them up closer to that straight line, making them feel less painful, less low. But as we do that, we lessen the reach of our highs above the line as well. We just make ourselves feel a little less each time. And we don’t even realize that as we numb ourselves to the feeling of the lows, we are also numbing ourselves to the feelings of the highs.
In other words, we just feel a whole lot less of anything. Along with the bad, we can also diminish the good.
So, when the news of our baby and our house hit all in one day, I felt an immediate temptation to move right back into that place of this-is-why-you-shouldn’t-let-yourself-get-excited-about-anything. I almost went back there. I almost went back to that dead, numb, broken place.
But that day – that worst day of my life – I heard a new whisper.
I knew I had to make a decision: go back to that dark, walled-in place or move forward in faith. So, in the middle of the exhaustion that comes from relentless tears and a heavy weight of heartache, I whispered to my husband, “He is still good.”
Honestly, I don’t even know if I believed it then. But I knew I had to say it. And keep saying it. Every day.
The next weeks and months were slow and tortuous. The physical pain of miscarriage was a constant reminder that we had lost our baby. I missed our little one and I knew that one day, when we wanted to try again, it would be hard to go into it without hesitation. How would I ever let myself feel excited about this again?
Now we’re here. We’re about to begin this journey again – the journey of trying to start a family, trying to buy a house. I feel like I find fear around every corner. I’m afraid we won’t be able to have a baby. I’m afraid this new house won’t work out. I’m afraid I won’t be able to rejoice. I’m afraid I will experience joy…and then disappointment. And it feels scary and vulnerable to not only welcome all of these emotions, but also to be telling you.
Yet, in those deepest moments of mourning, I was most thankful for the friends who were willing to be unguarded and open and say, “Me too.”
So, as we wait on the offer on a new house, as we talk about trying again for a baby, as we pray for the Lord’s wisdom and direction, I keep whispering a simple, small request…help me remember that You are still good.
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 107:1
P.S. If you are walking through this same grief or any type of grief, please don’t do it alone. Invite others in, see a trusted counselor, send me a message and let others (and me) pray for you. As I stated in my first blog, I want this to be a place of relief in the “me too’s”, but also a place that will encourage vulnerability and openness in your own real-life communities.