"Don't cry, baby." I can hear my mama's voice saying it even now. She said it with sympathetic eyes and a big firm hug. Like most moms, she said it when I fell and skinned my knee, didn't get invited to the cool kid's birthday party, or broke up with my boyfriend. It was a good way of comforting me and patching up my broken heart. It worked. I knew my mama loved me and I could go on.
As I grew that good advice got twisted around in my head into a half truth. There's an oldies song that goes; "Big girls...they don't cr-y-y-y. They don't cry". I figured out that my problems were trivial compared to other people's and I learned to focus on helping relieve their situations. I learned to passionately chase after the God who turns ashes into beauty and works all things together for good. I was focused on the dancing, problem was, I completely ignored the mourning. While I was busy waiting and searching for all the happy endings around me, I forgot something very important. Jesus; he was fully God and fully man. Jesus wept.
Weeks before my 30th birthday we discovered we were expecting our first baby. It was December and I raced to the store and bought two newborn onsies, one that said "Grandpa's Little Helper" and one that said "I love my Grandma". I wrapped them up and put them under our tree. Turns out that same Christmas my precious niece opened a package that announced that she would be a big sister soon. In that same time period we discovered my sister-in-law was pregnant as well as my sister's sister-in-law. Cousins, cousins and more cousins! It was a joyous Christmas season.
Shortly thereafter, my husband and I were giddy sitting in the waiting room waiting for our first ultrasound. We settled on a name for a boy while we waited for my name to be called. Back in the clinic we chatted happily with the doctor as she went about her tasks. Then she got very quiet and asked for another doctor to come in the room. While the doctors searched for our baby's heart beat, mine went numb. My husband held my hand, searched my eyes and asked if I was all right. I wasn't. Weeks went by and there were follow-up ultrasounds with the hope that I was off in my counting and that the baby's heart would jump start. It didn't and my numb heart froze.
You see, I learned years prior to bottle my feelings and pretend they weren't there and they didn't matter. Now I was face to face with big, ugly emotions and I didn't have a clue how to release them. I was a professional emotion bottler without a corkscrew and terrified I'd drop my bottle and shatter and spill all over the place.
God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. Those were hard words to say during that life chapter, but I knew they were true. It was painful to watch one baby after another join our family. It was even harder when more pregnancies in our family were announced just a few short months later. I felt heartbroken, overlooked, forgotten and left out. I wasn't though.
My husband was so kind in those days. My parents and in-laws were overwhelmingly supportive. And my sister let me come over and cuddle her newborn for hours at a time. It helped. I treasure the notes from friends who said they saw my pain and they were praying. I will always remember a friend from church who threw her arms around me and wept and wept on a Sunday morning.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15
I went to counseling and I learned something very important. I learned to grieve and grieve well.
God made us; body, mind and soul. He created emotions and they are meant to be experienced. The people of the bible knew something I didn't. They knew the art of expressing their hearts. They tore their clothes and threw ash in their hair. They wailed. And all the while they trusted and believed the God that turns ashes into beauty. They cried big tears and let God be the one who bottles those tears.
You keep track of all my sorrows, You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
Jesus himself wept. I learned to cry. Big, ugly, heart wrenching, tummy hurting tears. And I learned to experience and then let go of the pain.
We have a special Christmas tree ornament we hang each year in honor of our sweet baby who never made it into this world. It sits near the top and smells of cinnamon. I made it in the shape of a heart. It makes me thankful for the Savior that was born at Christmas and who continues to mold and teach my heart. He molds my heart through grand joy and great pain.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3
My mama told me many times that being a parent feels like your heart is walking around outside your body because you love those little ones so deeply and so fiercely. She's right. I'm forever thankful for the baby I will never see this side of heaven. I'm also grateful for his energetic little brother. It meant so much to me when we went into my son's 1st ultrasound and the technician said. "Look at that beautiful heart". I pray he will choose to follow God with all of that beautiful heart.
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me;
You have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:11-12
Feelings aren't always facts, but they are real. Process them. Spend them. Know that Jesus sees you, identifies with you and loves you. Then move the heck on. If you can't; go get help. There is too much joy in this world. And there will be even more in the one to come. Jesus promised. No more tears in heaven.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever." Revelation 21:4
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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