I have been developing a new posture so unfamiliar to me, and yet it fits so well right now I don’t see another way to be. My spirit is full of heaviness and in my spiritual practice lately, I often have nothing left in me but to lament.
This is so different than a frustrating day that leads to complaints. It isn’t as simple as shrugging off disappointment by practicing gratitude. It comes from a place of deep grief, when life hurts terribly and all that is left to do is cry out to God in desperation.
We have arrived at the one-year mark when my husband and I were sitting in a neurologist’s office. We had already been through two years of doctor visits terribly confused by Jonathan’s symptoms. I was five weeks pregnant for the very first time, holding my husband’s hand for dear life when the neurologist told me Jonathan had Parkinson’s disease at the age of 35.
A few weeks later I was desperate for a reason to hope. To hear that baby’s heartbeat would be a relief from the grief but the baby’s heartbeat never came. It stopped growing at 6 weeks.
That summer was a blur of doctors searching for answers that never came, while we clung tight to each other and grieved. By that fall we were pregnant again praying for a healthy baby. We announced that pregnancy at 11 weeks and learned we’d lost that baby at 12 weeks. The week of Thanksgiving I had my second D&C surgery of the year and we entered into the most unsure and painful Christmas season of our lives. The next three months felt like despair as we worked through the loss of our children and all the fear that has come with my husband’s diagnosis.
For the first time in my spiritual being, I stood in church and tried to sing songs of praise, claiming and believing in the promises of God. Instead, my voice stayed quiet as my mind would race. A year before I was a singer on that stage leading the church with lyrics like “All hail King Jesus” and “God can do it.” But now my heart cried out with questions like, “ God I know you can, but will you?”
I’ve lived in these moments when tears fall daily. My small bit of energy was for my students to see a smiling face and to keep my husband from falling apart. The leftover version of me at the end of the day could only bring my pain and sorrow to the feet of Jesus. What I’ve discovered is that He meets me there every single time. He is not asking more of me. He is not disappointed. God shows up in my pain. He can handle my anger. He listens to my screams as long as I need. And even though God welcomes my spirit in pain, He also urges me not to stay in that space. At times He lifts my heavy heart so I am able to read his promises. Other times I make a practiced effort to search for God’s voice even when it feels impossible to hear Him.
After months of this cycle of prayerful anguish while speaking God’s promises as a mantra to keep me moving I stumbled upon two amazing authors with a newly released book.
The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie is filled with blessings that read like poems. While my church background is less traditional and rarely included ritual or liturgy, I was surprised to discover I liked these poems as liturgical prayers. They speak for me when my soul has nothing left. I have lived in the pages written for grief, loss, and a longing for hope. I have cried on my bathroom floor weeping, reading these prayers of lament out loud while my husband secretly cries behind the shower curtain. These words have given honor to my pain, and given truth to my grief, yet they always end with possibility.
One year later. This is where I am. Still full of lamenting prayers but also in a better spiritual place of peace. I sit remembering the names of the daughters I lost. My first child named Hope and my second child named Faith.
I’m finding that even in a season of lament the smallest glimmer of hope and faith can carry me. I’m finding that when I have nothing left God sends other people to hold hope and faith on my behalf. It is here when God’s voice is quiet but strong. He says to me, “Watch me move.”
Mother’s Day weekend is here and I’m finding that sadness can also exist with hope. I have a tribe of women circling around me, putting me at the center of their elephant circle, protecting me, remembering my children in heaven, and ready to celebrate with me when I hold a living child in my arms, however that may come to be.
Grief is odd like that isn’t it? We ride the waves of pain swimming through our lives. Out of nowhere grief can pull us under, but we have to learn to take a breath and see the sun when our head is above water. It keeps us from drowning in the grief, to count the things that are still good, and to hope for the good to come.
So I pass onto you mothers my heartfelt sadness for any child you have lost. I also pass along my hope for the child you still pray will come. Let me share with you in your grief and in your joy a promise from Isaiah I’ve held dear to my heart.
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 Isaiah 43:19
Hope, faith, and love to you,
3 Replies to “For Mothers who Grieve”
Love you my precious daughter ❤️
Oh, Mandy I love you! I can’t wait to see what plans God has for you and Jonathan. Keep swimming in Gods Grace and the rivers he will provide while waiting on your miracles. Can’t wait to hear the testimony of his faithfulness!
I pray you’ll soon begin to see the good God has in store. Praying for his greatest blessings on your life.