More than once this past week, I’ve run into people I either didn’t know, or didn’t know well, who told me they follow my blog. With my recent posts about losing our baby and the aftermath, I’ve drawn quite a bit of attention. And overall, I think it’s a great thing. Why? Because it’s helped other women open up and share their stories. Links have been passed between husband and wife, niece and aunt, mother and daughter, almost always with the encouragement to “Read this. Her story is so inspiring.” Inspiring. Is that what I’m trying to be? Well, it’s better than the alternative, I suppose. It feels good to be a beacon of hope, a banner of promise that even when you’re dealt the death blow, life is still worth living, and loving. I’ve been honest with my feelings, raw and unsuppressed. And mostly, those feelings haven’t crossed to the dark side. Yet.
You see, everyone handles (or doesn’t handle) grief differently, and I feel like I need to clarify a few things about my own personal process. Because if there’s one thing I’m afraid of being, it’s a comparison. Somewhere, there’s a woman, and perhaps it’s even you, who has just found out the devastating news I learned just three weeks ago. She’s hurting, or numb, or in shock, or angry, anything but hopeful or peaceful or accepting. And while I welcome my story being shared, or you reading my story now, please, please, please don’t use me to propel someone along in their grief process faster than they’re ready, or in a way that’s completely foreign to them. Please don’t encourage them to “be more positive” like me or “just focus on their blessings” like me.
Yes. I’ve managed to weather this F5 with more dignity than I knew I had, more gratitude than I possess, and more hopefulness than I would have imagined. I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of peace throughout this ordeal, and for that I am extremely appreciative. But when I’m called an “inspiration” and given virtual applause for being so “positive,” I feel a bit…misunderstood. It’s not that I’m faking these feelings or revelations. But I need to set the record straight that this ability to make lemonade out of life’s sourest lemons…is completely unnatural to me.
But for the grace of God, I would be grieving like a native. Like MY natural self. Like I did after my brother died. After the grace covering was ripped off and the safety net ripped out by the hands of men. I fell, naked and exposed, right into my sin nature. I can still see her sometimes, riding on a long, dark, parallel train. On pitch-black nights when the tracks run frighteningly close, she beckons me. A quick pull of a lever, and the direction can change. She drowns frayed nerves in green-glassed bottles of sweet red Merlot, stout tumblers of smooth amber whiskey and delicate-stemmed glasses of salty martinis. She burns the loose ends one by one with the glowing tip of her Marlboro Lights, and delights in the promise of one more bet as the credits run down.
She is me, but I am not her. The sin still lives in me, but I reside in Him. I am born again.
I’m not really sure what God’s plan was with all this. Why give us a child, conceived in love, and then take it away a week after its tiny heart started beating? What’s the point? I may never know. And while I don’t believe blessings come in disguise, I do believe that we can be so blinded by grief that we fail to see the blessings that were there all along. Like a faith that I’ve cultivated and studied and strengthened for the past several years. Right here, steady and ready to guide me through this process and keep me off of that long, dark train. The sin nature. Would I have known what a wonderful gift that was if I hadn’t walked through this tragedy? Maybe, but I can honestly say I’m glad I know now.