Monday, March 17, 2014

Other people's stories don't invalidate our own.

This has taken me a long time to process and write, but I'm finally finding it easier to talk about the dreaded blessings topic again.

I sat down with a seminary professor a year and a half ago to talk about blessings. You see, ever since Owen died, I've had it in for the word blessings. I've downright hated it and even felt a lot of hostility to those who used it frequently. "God blessed me with this or that." "I pray God gives you the blessing of children." Grrr.....  I probably didn't make many friends during this period in my life. I was angry, pretty much all of the time.

I had always thought blessings were the good things that happen to us. It seemed to me that using the word blessings was like saying, "This awesome thing happened to me and if I want to sound Christian-y then I need to give God the credit for it." Blessings were the things that we prayed/asked for and then received.

It turns out I was wrong.

Blessings are in everything that God gives us in order to bring us closer to himself, our Father. Those things that show us our great need of him, and pull us into a deeper and more vibrant relationship with him.

Blessings can be things which we prayed would never happen. (Don't get me wrong, death is still and will always be evil, wrong and something that God hates. It wasn't supposed to happen.) 

Even before this great talk with the professor I've always thought of my three babies in Heaven as 
blessings. When people would tell me that they were praying for God to bless me with children, I 
would seriously freak out inside (and maybe on the the outside too). My babies' lives are blessings and how God has worked in my heart since their deaths- that's a blessing too.

One afternoon recently as I was washing up the lunch dishes a thought popped into my head....
Other people's stories don't invalidate our own. 

Praise God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This thought has developed into a paradigm shifting view on blessings and our life stories.
Maybe I'm the only one (but probably not) who has ever felt like God was holding out on me when all my friends were having babies so easily. Or when many of my friends had two living children in the span that I lost three of my babies. Or when it was time for Bible study to end and all the kids came running out the nursery to their mommies and I went home alone.

And then there's our struggles. What is going on when God seems to be so faithful to others in their struggles, but I am still struggling with the same damn thing I've been struggling with for six years?? I don't believe that God's faithfulness to others means that God has abandoned us when he doesn't work in our lives the same way. Or that he's not faithful to us in our continued struggles. He is working in our lives too. Maybe it doesn't look the same or seem as obvious, but if we're his children then he's with us and he's promised not to abandon us or forsake us.

Other peoples' stories don't invalidate our own. Praise the Lord. And when we're his children, he blesses us with his divine (holy and sacred) presence daily. By his Spirit, we can look not to the perceived discrepancies in our lives compared to our brothers and sisters, but to the faithfulness and beauty of God's work in our lives. He loves us. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Baby talk

I have been praying about having more children for probably six months. It's not that I'm exactly ready to have more children right now nor are we "trying", but it's on my heart to pray.
It's hard not to think about these things when you are surrounded with them. I'm sure many women can agree with me.

It has been this way since I found out I was pregnant with Owen almost seven years ago... I started seeing chubby, bright eyed babies everywhere. Stretched baby bumps, beautiful pregnant mamas. Toddlers holding their parents' hands jumping, bouncing, barely contained balls of energy.

When Owen died, the mere sight of any of these things would send me into a full blown panic attack. It was over a year before someone (my doctor) told me I has PTSD. And that those were my triggers. What a messed up, terrible fortune - to have something so angelic, so beautiful turn me into a shaking, tearful, hyperventilating mess.

It has taken time, counseling and so much grace but I no longer get panicky around babies or pregnant women. The hyperventilating and the shaking have turned into a deep and personal sadness. Honestly, sometimes I do still need space from conversations centered around pregnancy, birth and babies. In the world of bereavement, it is what we call being gentle with ourselves. You don't always have to put on a brave front and you don't have to stay in a situation that is causing stress or triggering feelings from your loss.

It has nothing to do with anyone else and the joy and excitement I feel for friends and family who are having babies. I want to celebrate with you and love your children. Truly.

I've heard women talk about the feeling of being "done". Maybe it's hard for them to explain what it feels like to know they don't want any more children. Maybe it's an easy choice, or a choice made for them or an agonizing decision based on a lot of variables.
I don't know. I don't know because I'm not there.
I don't feel done.

And I often wonder if I ever will. Will the missing ones make our family feel forever incomplete? I think so. But then, will it be clear to us when there will be no more babies?

I've been aching lately... in a different way than I've become accustomed to feeling.
I want to raise a son. And The Lord knows, as I've been praying this for the past six months, I don't want to want something (so badly) that The Lord has not ordained for us.