Confession, I’m a sucker for online forums. Periodically in my life I have found myself completely hooked on one or another. When I got pregnant for the first time (as in the very first time), I immediately signed up on the What to Expect When You’re Expecting site. I was so excited to sign up for all the baby samples through the website and then follow other mommies on the forum who were due at the same time. Little did I know what a heart breaking decision this would end up being in a few short months. When we lost our baby, no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop the e-mail status updates nor the samples from flooding my mailbox (I may have possibly signed up on a few other sites, too). Even a few months before our child would have turned one, I received a magazine filled with first birthday party ideas. I hated getting the mail.
By the time we got pregnant in 2009, I had experienced years of infertility and two miscarriages. When it came to connecting with mommies due at the same time as me, I just didn’t fit. As they complained about morning sickness, I was begging God for signs of life. As they lamented about slacking husbands/fiancés/boyfriends, I was thanking God for the faithfulness of my husband through my deepest valley. I simply could not relate to these ladies. Where I fit was with all the ladies on the Fertility or the Grief and Loss board…these were the ladies with kindred spirits. They were shocked, broken, and scared to death if they ever did get a positive pregnancy test. My husband would get so frustrated as I laid in bed at night reading their stories and crying. He always wondered why I put myself through such agony. I honestly couldn’t explain it…it was how I felt, too. In spite of our pregnancy, I was stuck.
As time passed and healing continued, I felt less and less attached to the Fertility and Grief and Loss boards. By the time I got pregnant the next time (this time), I was to the point where I no longer felt included anywhere. I would read my due date forum and still couldn’t relate to these care-free ladies. I would read the Fertility or Grief and Loss forum, but with one living child and another on the way I no longer felt included there, either. Even though I had experienced great trial and loss, I felt almost graduated from that stage in my life. This is probably a feeling that prompted the “Your Story Is Important” post on my blog.
Furthermore, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I’ve been and where I am right now. There was a time in my life that reading certain content in my new blog (Praying for Miracles) would have absolutely infuriated me. After all, it was not that long ago that I had written “If You Want Me To”, wondering if I would ever react well to someone trusting God. Then I read “History Becomes Training” or “Color – Before Our Fetal Echo” and realize that the coveted first reaction to my current crisis has actually been one of trust. If I didn’t know any better, I would say that my current posts were either written by a different person or that the ‘new me’ was a completely fraud.
Part of this animosity toward those who find it so ‘easy’ to trust God came from sheer brokenness over our losses and part of this came from frustration that, in spite of my Christian upbringing, I had no capacity to handle my crisis with faith and dignity. I was definitely not one of those faithful and trusting women. In my period of brokenness and anger, I did not even have a desire or intention of becoming one of those women. Those women hurt me more than they helped me because rather than trying to understand where I was coming from, they only pointed out how far I had fallen. They belittled my grief with feel-good phrases that I was sure didn’t help anyone in their moment of sorrow. In my logic, I would try to understand that these women were not doing this intentionally, that they actually had life experiences that had brought them grief as well. I tried to understand that they’ve been through their own valleys and are speaking from the truths that they’ve learned after reaching the other side. Still, my heart was in pieces and no amount of logic helped to put it back together. I became convinced that no amount of helping from the ‘other side of the valley’ would actually bring someone in the valley closer to reaching the end. Perhaps I still feel that way and perhaps that is why I feel so out of place all the time. To this I have no answer.
What I do find interesting, though, is a slight realization of a spiritual truth. If it is true that no amount of ‘outside help’ can reconcile a person’s ability to reach a new destination, the fact that God sent His Son to earth to be the payment for our sins makes that much more sense. We are a lost and broken people. This world is full of heartache and pain, it is the ultimate ‘valley’. No amount of God saying from Heaven “just trust me and I’ll give you eternal life when it’s all over” would actually be of any benefit to those of us in the valley. Instead, He sent His Son to endure the valley with us and make a way for us to reach Him through no act of valiance on our own. Interesting. Could God have made a way for us to reach Him without sending His Son? I would have to say ‘yes’ considering the time period prior to when He did send His Son. That road was hard, though – I can’t even imagine still being under Old Testament law. This is why God found it necessary to send someone into the valley…so that we could actually be helped in reaching the other side. I believe this applies both to the fact that Jesus, God’s Son, was sent here as well as the help promised from the Holy Spirit after Jesus left this world. These are not new concepts to me, just a new realization of the necessity.
So where does this leave me and my story, though? Do I simply resort to keeping to myself since I appear to be further out of the valley than those I wish to help? Since I’m already further than some, have I lost my ability to encourage? I hope not. If nothing else, I hope my story will show someone NOT the reaction they should have, but that there will be a time in their life that their reaction will not always be one of cynicism and anger. Yes, there are valleys, but there are also mountains. When you are in the valley it is important to learn from it, embrace it, don’t skip it – please, don’t pretend it doesn’t exist. At the same time, though, know that it is not unending. As Dave Ramsey would say “there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train.” There is hope, there is healing, there still are mountains.