(Taking a one week break from repeating our grief study, I felt this was very timely for our facebook support group. This study is written from the heart of Melissa Carswell.)
Recent months have found me coming to grips with the idea that my pregnancy years are over, and it doesn’t at all have the ending that I had “planned” on it having.
After miscarriage #1, we conceived Miracle 18 months later.
After losing Nathaniel in the ruptured ectopic, we conceived Mason 18 months later.
After giving birth to Mason, we conceived baby #3, sixteen months later. A few weeks later, in June of last year, we miscarried.
Always a journey of more than a year to get pregnant, I was shocked to discover just five months later that I was pregnant again. And then, devastated, when a few weeks later, after a dramatic-filled few weeks, my womb was once again empty.
And after baby #4, God has said, “It is done.”
He’s saying it through the desire of my husband, who is done.
While my husband states that “if I really want to, we can try again, but he would only do it for me, not because he wants it.”, unless he’s on board 100%, how can I try, even with that concession? Because it’s not just me here, it’s we, and unless it’s we wanting the baby, we aren’t united.
Without unity, it’s not of God. I believe this.
Because the Bible also clearly tells me that he is the leader of our relationship, and when agreement can’t be reached, I, as the wife, am to defer to his decision. I accept his lack of desire as the “answer” from God—that He would have us be done with pregnancy.
So we’re done.
And this time, there is no “redeeming” pregnancy to heal the pain of the two losses.
This is it.
It ends with loss.
And it’s not only what I hadn’t planned on for my life overall (I was going to be the pregnant lady that everyone snidely said, “Aren’t you done yet!?”), it wasn’t the way I planned on my child-bearing years ending. We were going to have that “joy-that-comes-with-the-morning” and the “beauty-from-the-ashes” baby.
But His ways aren’t mine and His thinking isn’t mine, so here I am, preventing one of my greatest heart’s desires in respectful submission to my husband’s deep desire and conviction, and realizing that “my ways” have been completely and totally stripped of what I had planned and day-dreamed about.
It’s a process.
A process of many tears.
So many tears, I’ve been surprised by them, and by the times they randomly hit. Not only was I not expecting this to be the way the story ended, but I wasn’t expecting it to hurt this incredibly much.
So how does one deal with it ending this way?
1. Submit to God, trusting He does His best for our life—often directed through our husbands.
Many women take offense to this way of marriage, but as a wise woman told me a week before my wedding, “freedom in marriage is spelled S-U-B-M-I-S-S-I-O-N”.
This is not because we are stupid or incapable, but simply because God has designed it to protect us.
Let’s be realistic. We often think with our emotions, and our heart can deceive us. So within marriage, God has put this beautiful relationship in place. When we are not thinking clearly, especially along the lines God would have us to because of the strength of our emotions, He has give us our husbands to lead us in final decisions.
What I think, right now, would be “best”—a viable, full term pregnancy with a squirming, squalling baby laid on my stomach and the pain of our losses eased in that moment—God knows differently. As I shared on my personal blog, perhaps God has put “No” in my husband’s heart to protect me from one final pregnancy that this time would end in my worst fear of a tubal in my remaining tube—a very real possibility warned of by our OB, because of scar tissue issues and ever-worsening endometriosis. Or perhaps God is protecting me from another pregnancy of non-stop vomiting, and pre-term labor concerns, which can be somewhat alleviated and made bearable with medications but are still life-altering for me and my family. Or maybe He’s keeping me available for a baby who needs a forever home, one born of my heart, not of my body.
I can’t see the reasons in the midst of this longing. But God can. And that may be the very reason He has moved my husband to lead us in the complete opposite direction than I, with tears, long to go.
And so that brings me to our second point.
2. We must rejoice that His ways aren’t ours – that there is more than we can see now, but someday we’ll understand. We’ll see just exactly why it needed to end this way.
Rejoicing when our hearts are breaking isn’t easy. And yet, the more we do it, the more the dichotomy of it becomes natural. We find that we can rejoice even as we weep. That our souls can carry both sorrow and awed joy that God is moving in our lives. That He has not left us on our own to muddle through, but He is clearly directing our every step.
3. What if our husband is “wrong”?
What if he is leading us in a way because of his own human logic and opinion and feelings, and not one iota of how he is leading us is God led? What if it hasn’t come from searching God’s heart out in prayer? Instead, it’s just the very logical, male conclusion he’s come to, based on the physical and emotional drama of past losses and/or attempts to have a baby and there is only this driving the decision rather than the Holy Spirit.
We have to trust that even if his leading is not God led, God will still have His perfect way for our lives. His best. That even if our husband is leading us wrong and saying no to God-placed dreams, God is going to still work it out for our best, for His glory, and with an eternal purpose in place.
His ultimate plan will not be thwarted. God has the power to change hearts – my husband’s…or mine.
3. Grieve when the sadness hits, but don’t linger in it.
Don’t hold on to the longing so fiercely that you allow resentment and self-pity to build, or that you lose your mind in a fantasy world of what you wish could be. Surrender when the emotions of sadness and even bereavement come, for even these can be a worship offering in their own right, but don’t make them your identity. There is a balance between facing them and the reality of your situation, addressing it all, allowing it to course through your heart with all it’s strength, and then, surrendering it back to God, instead of holding on tightly in a martyred self-pity that we, in some odd way, can sometimes find a depressing satisfaction in.
Jesus was fully and completely surrendered in Gesthmene, with a greater understanding of the eternal perspective on the “why’s” and “how’s” of what he had to go through, and yet he too was in such agony of soul in His submission that he sweat blood.
Submission doesn’t mean we are without grief.
Submission means God’s grace is sufficient to carry us through that grief.
I find myself, continually escaping to the bedroom where the kids can’t find me, to cry and then pour it out one more time. “God, this hurts so very, very much. But I want Your will, Your way, and so, I am casting this hurt on to you. This loss I feel in the depths of my soul—for the four I’ve lost, for the ones I will never have. For the loss of my dreams. For the hurt of this longing I can do nothing about. I’m casting it. Please take it. Make beauty of this as I hand it to you.”
4. Ask God what He has freed you up for. What ministry?
There is a part of us that may and does cry out, “I’d rather have a baby than be freed up to minister to others!!!!”
And yet, the part of our heart that longs for His glory—to make our lives about Him, not about us—-that part of us rejoices and embraces that which He is allowing in our lives through His “No” so that we may do just that. Make it about Him, not about us. Because entering into His storyline is so much more glorious than the storyline we could have written for ourselves.
Oh, we may think we could write an amazing story here on this earth with our limited human perspective, but don’t forget, all of this is against the back drop of eternity and all those things unseen by us now.
Believe it. It’s grander and more beautiful and more wondrous than we can begin to imagine.
And it all begins with His “No” now.
Original material by Melissa J Carswell, MA, BCCC. Perfect Joy Ministries ©2013. May not be used or re-printed without permission. bsbp33p05-23-13