Before we had been married a year, I saw those words appear on the test: PREGNANT. I’m sure I could have thought of a better way to tell Drew, but I bounced into bed and hugged him and told him that we were expecting. We had no idea what we were doing, no clue where to begin, but we knew that this was good. So, so good.
After I’d had time to consider it, I tried to pray, to journal, to write something down at this new beginning. All I could muster was, “A baby?!” And I sat back in my chair and smiled.
It was the end of my junior year of college, and I knew that things were going to change drastically. I imagined a crib in our other bedroom, but there was something so otherly about actually having a baby, something I knew I couldn’t expect to understand, not yet.
We told everyone as soon as possible. It was the sweetest news we could have shared, and we were over the moon with possibility.
Until the blood came.
The blood and the waiting, the unclear answers and the answering the questions with, “We lost the baby.”
I had to retake my finals that year, and I’m forever thankful for my professors and their willingness to work with me and, knowing the caliber expected at our college, pray for me. The rest of that summer is a blur of tears, working with the youth group at the church where Drew served as ministry intern, and trying to drown out my thoughts. Mid-way through, I found Angie Smith’s blog and read Audrey’s story. After many tears, I felt at peace. For a little while.
When summer ended, my senior year began. I went through the motions, but as the year progressed, I started feeling more like myself. I found myself pregnant again at the end of September. We kept it a secret this time, only telling family and one or two friends. I didn’t want the heartache of telling everyone that I had lost another baby, if it came to that. I was joyful, but aware. So. Very. Aware.
Just a few days later, I found myself back at the OB’s office, begging once again for there to be a baby. There was, but it was too early for there to be a heartbeat. It was too early for a lot of things. I kept bleeding, bleeding…until I had bled the baby away.
For the first two weeks, I was okay. And then I sank. Many people didn’t realize that we were even pregnant, so it was twice as hard to ask for prayers when explaining that we had been but weren’t anymore. Again.
Even worse was the dark thought I tried to keep away: what if God hated me? What if He didn’t want me to be a mother? Ever? Could I honestly say that I could surrender all to Him? Could I honestly sing, “You give and take away?” For months, I struggled. The god I knew wouldn’t have done this…so who was this God? Was He even real? Or just something I’d taken for granted?
I wrestled. Hard. The pastor I sat under every week claimed that struggles would happen, that trials would come, but every sermon’s answer left me empty. I read through Job again, but somehow it wasn’t enough. None of it was enough. I finally watched Francis Chan’s sermon, “Even Francis Has a Bad Day.” He talked about having a joy that was more of a quiet knowing than an actual happy feeling. That sermon shifted something inside of me, and I was able to ask the question that has been on my heart all along: If God is real, does He love me?
I held that question for a few weeks, through Christmas and into the New Year. My sister-in-law, Melissa, knew much of my struggle, and she gave me Selah’s album “You Deliver Me” for Christmas that year. I listened to that CD every morning on my way to my teacher internship, the final step before graduation. I sang along with “Unredeemed,” sometimes unable to sing at all because of the tears.
The morning after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday felt heavy. I had spent my day off sitting on my bed, holding that question close to my heart. Did God love me? Was He real? The clouds that morning looked like those bedcovers, heavy and dense with winter precipitation. I watched them anyway, begging God to be real to me.
That’s when I saw something in the clouds, those blanket clouds that never show shapes or figures. I saw, unmistakably, a newborn’s head, covered by an angel’s wing. And I cried because I knew. I watched those clouds through my tears until they passed behind the tree line, and I held my breath as they became clear again, wondering if I would see the angel wing again.
I didn’t. Instead, I saw another newborn’s head, this time held gently in one hand and covered by another. I’m not sure how I drove the rest of the way to the school. But I knew, y’all. He. Loves. Me. This God I had followed all of my life? He was dangerous. He wasn’t tame. But He loved me. No matter what, He loved me.
In that love, I started stepping back into the light.
This post is part of a 31 Days series on Raising My Ebenezer, part of my story and my own testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the song Come Thou Fount says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thine help I’m come.” For the month of October, I’ll be writing our story, outlining the Ebenezers in recognition of His mighty hand on our lives. His doings and His workings because of and sometimes in spite of our best efforts. My hope is that you’ll see a lot of Him and little to none of me. Because in the end, it is by His help that we have come this far.