The Struggle with ‘Why’

Many of you who read this blog know parts of our story.  But some of this, I’m not sure that I’ve shared with anyone…

About a week or so before the 4th of July, in the midst of our crazy life, we found out that we were expecting our second child.  I remember the moment I held that positive test in my hand….something we had been hoping for.  I was ecstatic and terrified.  Yay!!  We’re having another baby!!   And, oh my….everything is about to change….again….  All of those thoughts and so much more swimming through my head.  My heart doubled in size in that moment.  So I waited an entire evening to tell Justin by leaving the positive test on his pillow before we went to bed.  His feelings were much the same – excited and stressed (his ever growing to-do list had a time frame now – we need our third bedroom finished!).

And we told our parents over that extended weekend with this adorable picture:

Baby Announcement, Miscarriage, Pregnancy Loss, Life Lost, Every Life Valued, All Lives Matter, Fourth of July, Pregnant, Expecting, Why

And life was good.  I was teaching Aelah to say “Big Sister” and talking to her about moving to the big bed.  We were discussing names and nursery themes.  We told everyone else (including Facebook) we were expecting.  I had my first appointment and everything was good.  Baby’s growth was on target and that little heart was beating at a beautiful pace.

But then something happened.   Just days before that 12 week mark, I took what I thought was just a precautionary trip to the ER only to be told that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.  I was broken.  I cried, we cried.  I don’t remember much about that visit.  But I remember Justin looking up at me, his voice choking, and asking, “Are we just being tested?”  I knew what he meant.  Our lives had already been scrambled a bit for other reasons, and now this!?!

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  This is worth more.  I delete pictures off of my phone pretty regularly to clear up space.  But this one remains.  This was the morning after we found out our baby had died, less than 24 hours after our lives were forever altered.  I was numb.  But life had to go on.  Certain things had to happen.  We had to eat.  We had to care for the child we did hold in our arms.  We had to move forward…even though I so desperately wanted to go back…  So we spent the morning as a family, embracing the joy God was granting us in the midst of our sorrow.  Justin taught Aelah how to cook pancakes that morning.  She was fascinated, completely oblivious to the grief surrounding her.  “Oh wow” she would say each time he flipped a pancake.  And asking him to do “more” when he took some off of the griddle.  This picture is worth a thousand words, but more than that, it holds so much emotion; bringing both a warmth at the blessings I have in my life as well as a heartbreak for those that I have lost.

That night we went to a church service.  Every time we prayed and throughout the time of worship, I prayed for my child.  I had seen God move in some mighty ways within our church in the past month.  Two people we had prayed over were healed…one with medication (far more quickly than it should have worked) and the other was unexplained – a mass that had been was now gone.  I knew that God was bigger than any doctor’s prognosis.  I knew that He could make the heart of that child beat again.  And so I prayed that He would.  The next morning as we were driving in the car, a song came on the radio: “You’re shattered like you’ve never been before.  The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor….Tell your heart to beat again, close your eyes and breathe it in, let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace.  Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore.  Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again.”

As I stared blankly out the window, watching the fields and trees pass by in a blur, the tears ran silently down my face.  And I prayed and prayed that He would tell my baby’s heart to beat again.

But He didn’t.

And for a time after that, all I could think was “why?”

For me it wasn’t so much a question of ‘why did this happen’?  It was more a question of ‘why not me?’  Why didn’t I get a miracle too?  I struggled with that.  What made me different?  Didn’t we deserve a miracle too?  Didn’t I deserve the chance to hold my baby in my arms?  Why, God, why??  And all I heard were crickets…

I still don’t have an answer.  But the difference between today and a couple of weeks ago is that I’m okay with the struggle.

I think we’re supposed to struggle with the ‘why.’  There are a lot of things that don’t make sense in this world.  And we have all wondered at one time or another, ‘why?’  As we struggle with that question, we have two choices – turn away from God because we don’t have all the answers or turn toward God…because we don’t have all of the answers.

Faith.  The struggle grows our faith.  A few weeks ago, I felt like I was drowning in sorrow.

Drowning, Over My Head, Miscarriage, Sorrow, Struggle, Why, Faith, In Too Deep

The ‘why’ was torturing me, pushing me further under.  But God’s hand was right there, waiting for me to grab on so He could pull me to safety.  He never left me.  Not for a second.  He may not give me every answer I want or think that I need, but He is always there to set me back on my feet, to pick me up again and help me start over.  He is hope in the pit of despair.  He is light in the midst of darkness.

The struggle, though difficult, reminds me of His presence and reminds me to rely on Him completely; to rely on Him for peace, for joy, for comfort, for life.  The struggle is where I come face to face with my Creator and learn to be okay with the questions.

So for today, I will struggle with why.  But I won’t let it overtake me.  I will embrace the struggle and cling to the One hope that I have.  I will take the hand He has extended and hold for dear life.  I will not allow the sorrow of my trials to be for naught.  I will rise.  I will grow.  I will move forward.

Because of the struggle.

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He’s Wild, You Know

As a child, my father often read to us at bedtime.  My favorite stories were those of The Chronicles of Narnia.  They were magical – beautifully painted imagery that captured the  vivid imagination of a child so well.  Little did I know then that those stories were teaching me so very much about my faith.

I remember a conversation between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus about Aslan, the lion who clearly represents Christ: “He’s wild, you know, not like a tame lion.”

Lion, C.S> Lewis, Narnia, Chronicles, Wild, Tame, Witch, Wardrobe, Tumnus, Lucy, Movie, Book, Wild Heart, Urban Rescue

He is wild.  The Lord we follow, the one we have given our lives to, He is wild.  He is unforeseeable and incalculable.  He never does things the same way twice.  When following the Lord, you must learn to expect the unexpected.  He is not a tame lion!

I currently work behind the scenes at a pregnancy crisis clinic.  We have been working through the devotional book, Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson.  He refers to following the Holy Spirit as chasing a wild goose.  At this point in our ministry, we are on a wild goose chase, following after the leading of a loving, anything-but-tame, highly unpredictable God.  But more on that story for another day.

The point of this is that God is wild!  No words can describe the voyage He has prepared for us, if only we would follow!  Justin and I are realizing this more and more each and every day.  In our personal lives, in our church, and in our work lives….when we follow the Lord, it will be anything but the expected.

One of our theme songs for this season of our lives is “Wild Heart” by Urban Rescue.  It is a beautiful foray into what following the Lord looks like.  When we choose to follow the Lord with our everything we head “into the great unknown…after Your wild heart.”  And we have committed, “No matter where You go, we’ll follow You!”  It is a grand adventure, a phenomenal voyage, that I cannot wait to see unfold.

But it isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, this I know.  Sometimes the adventure leads us into dark valleys where the only way out is a treacherous climb up hill.  We have been in a couple of those valleys lately, and the words of “Wild Heart” echoed in my mind,

“The cross before me, the world behind me.  No turning back, no turning back.  Though none go with me, I still will follow.  No turning back, no turning back.”

“Into the great unknown, no matter where You go, we’ll follow You….”

Why?  Because as Lucy replied to Mr. Tumnus, “but He is good.”  He is so good.  And because we have chosen to follow Him, one day we will know a world without pain or sorrow.  One day, those dark valleys will be no more.  One day, those treacherous up hill battles will have been worth it all.  One day all we will know is the presence of Jesus.

So off we go, after His wild heart, into the great unknown…

Great Unknown, Adventure, Voyage, Urban Rescue, Wild Heart, C.S. Lewis, Not Tame, Tumnus, Lucy, Good

 

 

View from a Church Pew

I was listening to a radio show on my way home from work a few months ago.  And it has impacted me in tremendous ways.  Our attitude toward certain scenarios, the way we approach things, can drastically change the outcome of the situation.  The book that was being discussed on the radio show was about forming “Mom friendships” (the author and book escape me a the moment.  *So sorry!*).  The author described how she changed her outlook from “here I am” to “there you are”….and everything changed.

What if we take the logic she applied to mom friendships (for good reason) and apply it to church congregations.  Our flesh naturally gravitates toward a “here I am” attitude, in other words, simply put, “It’s all about me.”  Here I am – what can you do for me?  But God, throughout scripture, requires a servant heart, or an others-first attitude – “There you are.”  There you are – what can I do for you?

The Church is far from perfect.  And I know that’s because we’re all still on the journey to “figuring it all out” and each one of us is at a different point in that journey.  However, I think a lot of the issues within the Church would be alleviated if everyone of us, every day (whether a worship service or board meeting), would come with a “There you are” attitude instead of “Here I am.”  Our view from the church pew could drastically change.

Church, Pew, Attitude, Hypocrisy, Left Out, Clique, Family, Servant, Others,

Let me give you a couple of examples of the difference:

Here  I am.  I walk in the room, find my place, and take a seat.  I wait for you to come talk to me.  I notice when you don’t walk over to me and say hello.  I am offended that you haven’t taken the time and made the effort to come see me.  You didn’t even ask me why I wasn’t here last week.  Why didn’t you ask me about what was going on in my life?  I feel so excluded.

There you are.  I walk in the room and look for someone to greet.  *Friendly Smile*  How are you today?  Let me get up and come over and say hello to you.  How can I help you today?  I noticed you have been really busy and wanted to let you know how appreciated you are.  I missed getting a chance to talk to you last week, I could tell you were busy…which is why I came to you this week – anything I can do for you?

Here I am.  You aren’t meeting my specific needs.  Serve me.  I don’t like the music.  I don’t like the way that program is run.  My ideas aren’t being heard.  I never have a chance to do what I think would work.  Listen to me.  This is the right way.  That plan will never work.

There you are.  How can I serve today?  What can I do to help meet the needs of those around me?  I can see your heart for this ministry, it’s overflowing.  How can I help that vision become a part of the overall mission?  What of my own agenda needs to be set aside for this to work for the greater good?   Am I getting in the way or am I letting God move?  Have I heard, really heard, the heart of where everyone else is coming from?  Am I listening?  What is it that would work best for the vision God has given us, even if it isn’t my idea?

Can you imagine if we were all “there you are” people???  Because that’s what we’re called to be!  We are called to be servants.  We are called to be love.  And offense?  That’s a tool of the enemy!  We choose to be offended.

If we were all “there you are” people, no one would feel outcast or snubbed.  We would notice when people were missing for a couple of weeks.  We would work for the good of God’s vision, not for the good of ourselves.  We would learn to set aside our own agendas and actually listen to those around us.  We would forget past biases and approach every day with a clean slate.

The difference between “Here I am” and “There you are” is the difference between someone walking in those doors and someone walking out.

Doorway Quote

When we choose to follow Christ, we are saying, “It is no longer about me, but about Christ who lives in Me.”

When I start getting frustrated in a church setting, lately, I put my attitude in check and ask myself: Am I approaching this with a “here I am” or “there you are” attitude?  A lot of the time, I have to take a couple of steps back.  God’s plans are better than mine and I am sick of letting myself get in the way.

The next time I say (or think) “Here I am” it will only be to the Lord, in this sense, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”

His response: “There you are.  Where have you been?  I’ve been waiting for you to finally figure it out!”