For the Doubters and the Broken

I was in bed half asleep when I suddenly just had to write.

I kind of hate when that happens. And if I’m going to blog right now, tonight, it should be about a little boy who turned seven today and had such a fun birthday. But I’m not going to blog about that. Maybe tomorrow.

Because tonight I have to write about my children who don’t get birthdays.

If you have been around my blog or my family for any length of time, you know that the three beautiful children in my sidebar aren’t my only three children. Nearly four years ago, in January of 2008, we lost our son, Elijah, after I had carried him only fifteen weeks. It was a complete shock, and we were devastated. God carried me through that loss, and several months later we learned I was expecting again. Miss Squeezy was born because of that miscarriage, there’s no real doubt in my mind about that. Elijah was a surprise; I was done having babies, thankyouverymuch, and Bubs and Stinky were going to be it.

Except they weren’t. And our little surprise baby, born to heaven after only weeks under my heart, put the desire for more children in me. So we tried again, and God gave us Squeezy girl.

Last fall we decided to try for one more. One more little person to be a pal to Squeezy and to fill out our home and our minivan. I learned I was pregnant right before Christmas, and we shared our big news shortly after the New Year. I started spotting when I was about 8 weeks along. Just a tiny little bit here and there, never bright red, not the kind they tell you to worry about. No cramps. None of that. Just a little bit– until it was a little more and we ended up at the doctor’s office moments before they closed looking again at an ultrasound with no beating heart.

We learned that Elijah was a boy because I was far enough along that the doctor wanted to do some testing to check for a reason for the miscarriage. But with my fifth pregnancy, because the baby apparently stopped growing sometime around the eight-week mark, it just wasn’t even discussed.

I regret that. I wish I had requested it. Something. I wish I knew.

I hate that I don’t know.

I want to tell you, and this is the real reason I’m up so late tonight writing when I should be asleep, that my second miscarriage was completely different than my first. I felt so numb. I felt so cold. I hardly cried. With Elijah’s death, I wept until the tears were gone, and that weeping was cleansing. But it never really happened the second time around. I felt so confused.

It was nearly a month after my miscarriage, one Sunday evening at church, when I suddenly discovered why. Our pastor was preaching about the love of God– how it never fails, how He always loves us, how His love caused Him to give everything for us– and I realized that I wasn’t sure I believed it. I had never in my entire life felt so alone as I did at that moment. I left the service and cried in the bathroom, and the tears had little to do with my miscarriage and everything to do with this sudden horrible cold doubt that had crept into my heart with the loss of my child.

I don’t think I’ve even told my husband about this.

I grew up in the church, three times a week. I have a recording of myself singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the age of 4. In all those years, in all my time of being a believer, I had never doubted His love. I had no idea what it meant or how to respond. I lived the next week in a fog, not sure even what I was supposed to do with myself, because if God isn’t love then everything about my world had changed. Everything.

One Sunday morning I read in the notes in my Bible about Thomas, and how, although we tend to define him by his doubt, he did not define himself that way.

Thomas . . . expressed his doubts fully and had them answered completely. Doubting was only his way of responding, not his way of life.

. . . . We can doubt without having to live a doubting way of life. Doubt encourages rethinking. . . . Doubt can be used to pose the question, get an answer, and push for a decision. But doubt was never meant to be a permanent condition. Doubt is one foot lifted, poised to step forward or backward. . . .

When you experience doubt, take encouragement from Thomas. He didn’t stay in his doubt, but allowed Jesus to bring him to belief.

From the Life Application Bible

I would like to say that I immediately knew what to do, but I didn’t. It was nearly a week before an early morning journaling session found me confessing my unbelief and asking, pleading for God to show Himself to me.

I want you to know that my first miscarriage led me to a deeper faith in a God who holds us so tenderly and weeps with us. And I want you to know that my second miscarriage, though the journey was longer, did the same thing.

The Saturday morning that I wrote those desperate words in my journal, I turned on Pandora radio to listen to while I washed the dishes. And song after song was there just for me. I truly believe that God was in charge of Pandora that day, not some random computer program somewhere. I stood there with tears dripping into my dishwater, listening to one artist after another sing of love unfailing, and just saying thank You to a God who cared enough about one doubting woman in Iowa to make sure she knew– knew– He loved her and hadn’t abandoned her.

He loves me. He hasn’t abandoned me.

I don’t know why I needed to write this tonight, but I felt prompted to do so, and if God loves me enough to reach down through my radio then I think I can love Him enough to listen to His prompting. I guess somewhere out there needs to read this tonight.

He loves you. He loves you beyond what you can imagine. And when you’re in that place where you look around at the shattered pieces of your heart and you just can’t believe He could, He loves you. I can’t promise you’ll understand. I don’t. I don’t understand the “together for good” part of my miscarriage, and I don’t know if I ever will. But I know He loves me. And I know He loves my babies up there in His heaven. And I know, friend, that He loves you. He sent His Son to prove it.

If you’re doubting, don’t be afraid to ask Him to show Himself to you. He wants to do it. He wants you to know how much He loves you, how desperately He cares for you.

I know this. He showed me.

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8 thoughts on “For the Doubters and the Broken

  1. Erin, we each have times like these. I say “like” these because –obviously — I’ve never had a miscarriage. I don’t know what that heartbreak is. But there have been other things, other time times that led to doubt, and anger, and sorrow and hurt, and shaking my fist in God’s face, and hiding myself away to cry. In spite of my best efforts to drive him away, he hung around. And each time I grew, learned and even felt more loved.

    Thank you for writing this.

  2. Erin, thank you for your humble honesty that ministers to the deepest need of the human heart: to live as beloved, not forsaken, by God. And how we don’t have to hide when we doubt, but to lay it bare at the foot of the cross for redemption.

  3. Wow, Erin, such beautiful writing. I remember when we were pregnant together and I was so heartbroken when you lost your little one, I am so sorry. It’s so good to hear about how God has grown you through these difficult times, and I’m so glad you wrote this.

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