But God, my sabbatical was supposed to be three months of deep reflection, looking forward to and dreaming about what you’re calling me into next in Manenberg. God, I have so many great ideas I wanted to discuss with you, so many things that we could do together. And yet here I find myself two months in with the pieces of my broken heart still broken, grieving the loss of a little life that was supposed to be part of our future, barely able to think about anything else. This wasn’t the plan.
No my child, but I am with you.
Are you enough, God? I kinda thought you could stop this from happening and you didn’t…so can I really trust you to bring me peace now?
Over the last wee while, I’ve been on a journey of discovering thankfulness, not only as a response to God but as a weapon to fight for joy and peace…it has been an interesting one, you can read about it here.
The day I learnt that Lloyd and I had lost our little acorn, a small seed of life within me, I got home from the hospital and as a sat, I felt God ask me, Clare, what are you thankful for?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? (I don’t think my language was quite so pretty) Not today, God.
But yet I knew in my heart that this battle I was in was going to need me to dress myself in my armour, and my armour is thankfulness…and so I asked God to remind me of stories of his goodness, and He did. He reminded me of some of the stories of healing coming out of my Tree of Life family in Manenberg, of his presence, of his with-ness, and I was able to say thank you.
I’ve been learning how to say thank you, how to celebrate even when everything else falls apart, this is so hard, but it is rich. My heart gets to enjoy the richness of excitement and joy and hope while knowing how to be in the places of brokenness and despair. This is not life in the middle of good and bad, this is life, lived at the extremes, squeezing the life out of all of it, this fullness of life that I know Jesus understood greater than I ever will. This child we had waited for came after a longer wait to be told we weren’t eligible to adopt yet because of my visa, so the news of this pregnancy was celebrated by our whole community, and equally, as acorn went to be with Jesus at a few weeks old, this life was mourned by our community, and I have found great comfort in being able to process and cry and be ok and be happy and be miserable with my community who stretches across continents.
Miscarriage isn’t a subject matter I ever imagined myself writing about, and to be honest, it’s really not fun to write about in any way, but it’s important. As I shared a bit of my story, I heard of more and more people who had gone through the same thing. And then there was this moment while I was still at the hospital when there was a whiff of a lie that crept in, that perhaps I wasn’t good enough as a woman, that I couldn’t even stay pregnant! No, like seriously, this flashed across my consciousness and I batted it out of there very quickly, but I started to wonder if you don’t hear much about miscarriage because there’s shame attached to it, and so I’m writing, letting the ugly and the sore hang out.
I’m still very much in the middle of my grief, of processing and wrestling with God and as I think about being pregnant again, I am totally terrified. But, I have known God with me. I read this bit in a Brennan Manning book where he suggested that if you were struggling to know how to approach God or are sitting with pain, to simply hold your hands out and say ‘Abba, I belong to you’ and allow the father to step in. So I did. There was nothing else for me to say anyway!
One day as I prayed that, I saw myself slumped across his chest completely surrendered and with nothing to bring…as I painted this image, I felt God nudge me to connect our hearts as his presence surrounded me. A few days later I went to visit a beautiful new addition to our Tree of Life family, and as she fell asleep on my chest, I had this moment of clarity where I realised she didn’t need to try, she wasn’t looking for answers, she trusted me completely to be her safe place, totally surrendered in that posture and I felt God tell me it was ok to stay there, in that slumped posture.
I’m a thinker, I like to figure things out, but that just doesn’t exist in this, all you have is being true in the moment to what you’re feeling, and keeping your face as close to Jesus as possible, and when you can’t, he brings his face to you.
Do I have some/any wisdom on how to cope with this? Hardly. I’m still in the taking-it-one-day-at-a-time stage, but it does help me to talk about it (though that won’t be true for everyone), it does help to be in God’s presence (even if all I do is cry…or shout), and it does help me to know that people know my story and they’re with me in the good and the ugly. There is no answer, no easy-fix, it’s another season of waiting, waiting for healing and waiting to be able to trust fully again…but in this waiting, I wait with the one who knows.
Abba, I don’t know what the future holds, I hardly know what the present holds, but I’m thankful that I am surrounded with friends and family, I am thankful for new life, I am thankful that your goodness is always visible and that all you need is for me to be.
Abba, I belong to you.