Addy was lying in her bed waiting for me to pray over her. She was looking at the wall like she could see right through it. I knew there was a storm brewing in that eight-year-old brain of hers. She was about to broach one of the tough topics of faith.
“Mom, I feel like God doesn’t hear me. He doesn’t answer my prayers.”
Tears were welling up in her eyes. Bless her heart, she came deeply sensitive, just like her mama.
“I just miss Gramps real bad, and God didn’t bring him back to the earth like I asked Him to.”
Though taken back, my first instinct was to tell her how death is hard, but how when we put our hope in Jesus, death isn’t the end.
But that isn’t what she wanted to hear.
I know, Mom. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I asked God to bring Gramps back, but He didn’t.
She was really wanting to know why God doesn’t answer our prayers, why bad things happen, why God lets us go on living with gaping voids across our broken hearts.
And really, the truth is, I still grapple with those questions. Even though I can recite Bible verses and state Biblical theology on why bad things happen, understanding loss is a bit like hugging a sumo wrestler. I just can’t get my arms all the way around it.
I sat on Addy’s bed and paused. I knew this was one of the big moments of motherhood—one I didn’t feel prepared enough or wise enough for. I took a deep breath and uttered a silent prayer: Lord, you have to be here. Please give me the words I don’t have.
While praying, I knew it was time to tell Addy my story. I had avoided this conversation. Partially because I wasn’t sure my girl was ready to hear it. But also because I wasn’t sure I was ready to share it—I certainly hadn’t felt ready to live it.
Addy knew I had miscarriages—one happened after the family pregnancy announcement—but I’d always been vague about the exact number. Four before Sam, one before you. But I just knew in my mother-heart, she needed to hear my story that night. And it was okay to tell her now of the pain and the struggle to trust God. It was okay to tell her how sometimes I still ache for the five I will never know here on earth.
She began to cry. We both did.
It felt like sharing unresolved faith. But I realized, isn’t all faith unresolved this side of heaven? Don’t we now only see in part, know in part? And isn’t faith believing in what we haven’t yet seen, and don’t yet fully understand? Isn’t faith holding tightly to the hope we have in the power of the cross to transform us and the hope we have of one day reaching Home?
During our conversation, words tumbled out before my brain could catch up: “Addy, I wouldn’t for all the world go back and change what happened because it would mean you and Sam wouldn’t be here. I don’t know why I lost those babies. But I do know God has been good, and those babies are safe in heaven.”
It seemed strange to hear those words formed by my own mouth. I remember how just two years ago I was so angry at God. I remember the struggle to trust Him. I remember wanting to take the whole lot of it and tie up my tubes so I could never ever lose again—maybe I desired another baby, but I desired control too.
And yet as those wouldn’t-change-a-thing words came out of my mouth, I knew I was speaking the truth.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
I reminded Addy how we prayed for Sam. Our whole family prayed for him and hoped for him and believed for him. Maybe the road of Sam’s arrival was marked with pain, but he came. And his presence has been all the sweeter for it.
It was in the aftermath of loss that I learned how to trust my Savior. I learned how to wrestle and how to hold on to hope like it was the rope that could save my life. I can say without the slightest twinge in my heart, for there is no lie in it: Jesus is my friend. I have walked with Him through storms. And we have made it through.
At the end of my conversation with Addy, I brought up a trip we had taken to the snow that past winter. I reminded Addy how I had told her to wear her thickest socks and to pack changes of socks. I told her a few times. Even though it was her first trip to the snow, she thought she knew better than me and ignored me. Ten minutes into snow play, her one pair of Hello Kitty socks were wet, her toes were frozen, and she knew that her mama had known better than she did. Addy thought her imagination and limited knowledge of snow could trump her mother’s actual experience with snow.
God is like that. He knows so much more than us. He knows our hearts, our deep-down deepest desires. He knows the future. He hears our prayers. And He answers. It’s just that He knows so much better than us.
He knows so much better than us for He holds an eternal perspective. Beyond my imaginings of eternity and all that I have ever read about it, God actually knows what it is actually like.
And in eternity, five souls—whose fleshly bodies my arms ache to hold, my eyes long to look upon—reside safe in the Father’s arms. There is hope and peace in that.
PS If you are facing down a loss, particularly a miscarriage, dear heart, I am so sorry. I want you to know I pray for you and you are not alone. You can find my story HERE and maybe even find permission to grieve and the strength to hold onto hope.
PPS If you know someone who might need to read this, maybe I could humbly suggest sharing this with them?
Sharing in this beautiful community of story tellers.