July 9th will be the three year mark since we said goodbye to Verity Grace and has me already reflecting on all that has changed…and what hasn’t. There have been epic travels, changing of homes, “hellos” to new friends and “goodbyes” as people have moved away. There have been new job/church roles, a new puppy, a new non-profit startup.
Yet still my womb is silent.
Still we wait, and I feel unloved, unseen and unheard by the only One with the power over the waiting.
Just recently a friend who is also
walking… wading…trudging through the emotional rollercoaster of infertility loaned me a book titled, When God Says Wait: Navigating life’s detours and delays without losing your faith, your friends, or your mind by Elizabeth Laing Thomson. At first, it sat there, collecting dust. In my “year of rest”, after saying goodbye to a job I loved, students I love, the sense of security in knowing a paycheck would come in each month, I did very little to truly rest. I filled up my schedule and I avoided. I avoided almost anything that had to do with working through the fact that God is still asking us to “wait” for another child.
Not wanting to keep the book for too long and become known by absolutely everyone as THAT friend (yes, Al, I do still have your Brené Brown book I need to return and no, I still have not read it), I figured I would at least skim through it. Somehow, in my skimming, God always drew my eyes to what my heart needs (and I say “needs” very intentionally because it is an ongoing process; moment-by-moment reminders) to hear.
“The longer God’s silence stretches, the more things start to break inside” (Thomson, pg. 15). YES! Yes, THIS! I know that feeling! I feel like I am breaking. Like maybe God loves everyone BUT me, or that He doesn’t actually see me or hear my cries.
I must be breaking because I keep falling back into “auto-pilot” and operating as though this waiting period is God’s way of telling me to “pull myself together” and figure out how to love Him and others better before He will finally entrust us with another child. I keep forgetting the lessons He has been teaching me through this journey. Lessons like:
- Redefining my hope in Him.
- Learning to be brave.
- Remembering I am enough.
(Sound familiar maybe? Like, say, previous posts where I thought I got the lesson and could move on…apparently that’s not how things actually work but wouldn’t it be nice if it was?)
I have been breaking as I feel each setback, each moment of despair, anger and grief as if I was deserving of punishment or as if God is withholding until I figure “it” out. I have spent the last three years pinballing between feeling like I am finally getting it and like I am failing.
“The longer we wait on an answer, the more distant God feels. His silence fuels our suspicions: Does He even care? Is He unmoved by my tears, my pleas? Just as in the garden, the evil snake whispers doubt through gaps in our shield of faith. After a while, God may start to feel like the enemy. The Great Giver? Yeah right. More like the Great Disappoinoter. The Great Withholder. He is holding out on me on purpose. Ignoring me. Torturing me. He doesn’t want what’s best for me. He probably doesn’t even like me. We don’t like to admit this, lest we get struck by lightning, but the truth is, some of us get mad at God. Bitterness begins to wrap icy tentacles around our hearts – suffocating hope, strangling trust – till only anger remains. And what a terrifying place that is, when you feel resentment toward God clouding your vision, darkening your heart: not only are you wandering in the unmarked wilderness, but now you have lost your compass” (Thomson, pg. 82).
In this last year I have felt my hope dwindling, till only anger remained. I felt unloved, unseen, and unheard by God.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Honestly, I thought I had even learned THIS lesson before.
Rewind to late winter/early Spring of 2019. I was teaching and college/career counseling with no idea I would be handing in my resignation before the year was out. I had finished running photocopies and headed back to my office, done with appointments for the day, headphones in, Spotify playlist doing its thing and adding new music it thinks I’ll like, and this song comes on. Not the radio version, a live, acoustic version of “Persevere” by Gang of Youths with an intro explaining the “why” behind the song.
In his intro, lead singer David Le’aupepe says this, “We have this friend named David Andrew. He and his wife have been through hell and back. David and his wife were expecting a baby (My steps falter. I’m arrested by “were”…I know where this is going and my heart is already breaking) and then 8.5 months in the pregnancy I got a call from a friend saying the baby was gone. Her name was Emme Grace. Emme Grace Andrew. This song is about her and her amazing dad.”
Grace. Her middle name is Grace.
Tears already starting to well up in my eyes as I flash back to holding our little one, whose middle name is Grace. All I have to do is make it to my office and turn off the lights for a minute of peace and quiet, thankful it’s not a passing period. Thankful it’s an abnormally quiet afternoon in my office.
I listen closely to the song’s lyrics, heart aching for my daughter.
Heart aching for Emme Grace’s family and friends.
“I never got to kiss your head
And the call came the week I got divorced
I thought I had a real understanding then of loss
But I didn’t know a thing ‘til you were gone
And I’m tired of trying to find some sort of
In making sense of such unspeakable loss
But as I’m staring at your folks
The sweetest people I know
I get a glimpse of what it is to be strong
Just holding hands and sobbing with sunglasses on…”
There is something that feels different in the loss of a child. Something that causes people to want to search for meaning, purpose, a reason to explain why a life is gone before it has even been lived outside of the womb. And when those answers aren’t found, something that plunges you into darkness where strength looks like clinging to one another through the tears.
The song continues. The words washing over me as I listen to the perspective of a friend. An outsider looking in. Grieving in his own way as he watches the grief of his friends.
It is at this point I should probably tell you that I don’t only listen to Christian music/Worship songs, in case you didn’t already know that. My music is completely mood and atmosphere driven. If it’s summertime and nice outside you are very likely to catch me blasting some Hawaiin music (thank you Brother Iz!). If it’s evening and I’m winding down for the day my choice may be more inclined to jazz (ugh, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, those voices get me EVERY time!). Belting out song lyrics on a road trip it may be Lake Street Drive or Lauren Daigle or Adele. Sometimes it’s Rock, sometimes Indie, on a VERY rare occasion (aka: if I’m out at the barn working with horses/mucking out stalls) Country. You get the picture.
All that to say, Gang of Youths is not a Christian band. They sometimes use more “colorful” words or lyrics I don’t necessarily agree with philosophically, however, God used this song, on that day, to remind me of His grace.
I’m not going to type out all of the lyrics for you, nor am I necessarily saying “go listen to this song”. I am simply conveying gratitude at the ways God reaches into the darkness to remind me of His Light.
“I couldn’t count the times
I’ve ragged on heaven
As an opiate invented by the weak
It’s an argument I hate
‘Coz I’m content to love the fates
But it comes up a lot with Emme’s dad and me
So I’m shotgun in the car
And we’re just shooting the _____
And predictably the talking turns to God
So I throw him forty lines
How I don’t think He exists
And he just smiles and
Takes a dignified pause
Says, ‘it’s okay to feel unbelievably lost’
But God is full of grace
And His faithfulness is vast
There is safety in the moments
When the ____ has hit the fan
Not some vindictive _______
Nor is He _______ at His job
What words to hear”
What words to hear…….
God isn’t vindictive. He’s not bad at His job. He isn’t withholding or standing idly by in my moments of despair, anger, bitterness and grief.
“All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes…Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.” – Psalm 38:9-10, 15
When, in the waiting, He feels silent, I am reminded He is full of grace.
In her book, Elizabeth Laing Thomson, points out beautifully that grace is not simply a small, insignificant compilation of five letters, it is not “a temporary, transient position based on our day-to-day performance” but instead it “may be the most powerful word in the world” (pg. 66).
“God’s grace lasts long enough. God’s grace never runs dry. Waiting is not a punishment from God; it is a part of life. Everyone waits for things, even the most righteous of people” (pg. 66).
I am not unloved, unseen, unheard. On days when hope is suffocated, trust is strangled, and waiting feels like punishment, God finds ways to reach me, through a book, a song, a friend and reminds me…
I am loved.
I am seen.
I am heard.
Till only grace remains.