It was the fall of 2004. Criss and I had been married for six years, and I had just finished my Master’s degree. That September, it was official – we were expecting. We were so excited! We soon told our parents, but waited to tell everyone else. While at the Bluff Park Art Show, Criss bought me a pair of earrings for me as a mother-to-be gift. We also went to the library and picked up a used copy of What To Expect When You’re Expecting.
I was still teaching, but we were out on Fall Break. Criss & I were doing respite care over the long weekend for a little African-American baby. I’ll call him Baby Q. I woke up one morning and knew in my spirit that something was wrong. I called the doctor, and they had me come in for some blood work. I was already upset as I walked to the doctor’s office. It didn’t help that I (with my blonde hair and light skin) had Baby Q (with his dark features) in tote, so that everyone was staring at me, trying to decide if he could possibly be mine. J
While at the doctor’s office, things went from bad to worse. I knew the baby was gone. Since I was only coming in for the lab work, I didn’t see the doctor that day. When I returned for my scheduled visit the next Monday, the doctor confirmed what I already knew to be true.
Grief can be such a lonely place. Miscarriage can be especially difficult as no one else has had the opportunity to meet the small child that you had already fallen in love with. No one may have seen his face, but you had already talked to him, formed dreams for him, and carried him close to your heart. Every time Criss had kissed me good morning, I would grin and say, “Now kiss the baby.” A smile would overtake his face as he leaned to kiss my tummy. Now, it was all gone.
No one would dream of telling someone who had just lost her husband, “It’s okay. You can get remarried.” However, that is exactly what people do to you when you have a miscarriage. “It’s okay.” “You’re young. You’ll have more.” There’s no funeral to attend, no grave to visit - only a deep sadness and few people who truly understand. You want comfort and support from others and yet you grow exhausted from having to talk to people who just don’t get it and end up making you feel worse. I recently finished Mary Beth Chapman’s book Choosing to See in which she describes the pain of losing their daughter. (She is Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife.) She describes those same feelings. In it, she writes about the unbelievable things that people would say in a failed attempt to offer their support.
2 Corinthians 1:4 states, “[God] comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” I can see how God has done that in my life. It was only by going through this season of great sorrow that I learned how to understand the pain in others’ lives. I may not know their exact pain, but I now know pain, and I can use my experience to reach out to those who are hurting.
If 2 Corinthians is true, then why do we have such a difficult time relating to those who are hurting? In my opinion it’s because we haven’t dealt with our own pain and allowed God to heal the broken places. We tend to go to one of two extremes. Either we burry our pain and refuse to face it, or we remain stuck in our pain and don’t allow ourselves to receive the comfort that God has available for us. Either way, when we encounter others who are hurting, it touches a spot deep within our own lives that we don’t want to deal with and makes us uncomfortable. It is only when we face the our pain head on, take time to feel it and work through it that we can receive comfort from God and then pass along this same comfort to others around us. I’ve learned that some of the best things we can do are to give them a hug and say nothing at all or simply say, “I’m praying for you” or “I’m so sorry.”
There were some days that it was all I could do just to get through the day. It was during that time that God reminded me of the “brokenhearted” verses:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
If you are hurting today, I hope they will offer you the same hope they did me. We know that God is always with us, but He wanted us to know that in those times that our heart is broken in two, He is there with us, wanting to bind our wounds. May you feel His presence today.