What Are You Afraid To Lose?

The woman dreams to become pregnant, a prayer that God gave the childWhat are you afraid of losing?

Everyone is afraid of losing something–a loved one, a job, their reputation, sanity, safety, peace, hope … Or perhaps we’re afraid of something being taken from us; the anxiety is the same regardless of how this one (or more) precious thing is wrenched from our grasp.

Almost a year ago, my husband and I lost a baby. We had never expected to be parents, and after 13 years of marriage, not only resigned ourselves to this fact, but completely accepted it with peace. Until I got pregnant. Suddenly, God opened wide the doors of longing, excitement and anticipation. A whole new world brightened on our horizon. We wanted that baby more than anything. However, I miscarried at 11 weeks. The doctors assume the baby died a few weeks earlier and my body took a little time to realize the loss. My heart took much, much longer.


When Seasons Collide

Dead leaves on bench

It’s the collision of the seasons.

Here I stand on the precipice of my favorite season–autumn. Summer is merging with colder air, the leaves are giving up their green and their death grip on brittle branches. I’ve already broken out the jeans (still paired with flip flops), and I’m reticent to recall shorts.

All this exquisite splendor is the harbinger of time well spent with loved ones and favorite people in front of the fireplace, with a good book, cuddled on the couch, over a good cup of coffee (or a deliciously dark beer!)

And so, my soul is singing with anticipation, but I’m sad too, my heart is a little wounded and my hopes are fragile. It’s strange for me, this mix of opposing feelings. But I suppose it’s good–that tears are mitigated by laughter and disappointment with excitement. 

I’m not sure how much time I’ll get to spend with my husband this fall. Yes, last year about this time he was leaving for Africa, so count my blessings (more on that later) he’s safe here in the states. But, we have suddenly launched into a season of such intense training and planning that I scarcely see him for a half hour a day. And waiting in the wings are a few weeks where they will work straight through the weekends–at least 21 days in a row.

And this sadness, I might have shared earlier, but I wasn’t ready–a couple months ago, I miscarried the baby my husband I never thought we could never have.

We never planned or risked the hope of getting pregnant. So when we learned in late July (with utter shock!) that I was expecting, we were floored. Just as surprising was the joy that overtook us! We couldn’t wait to hold our baby! But that wasn’t God’s plan. Somehow, our little one lived a purposeful life, and filled the purpose of his life in just 11 short weeks.

We survived that.

But now, the pain is refreshed each month. We’ve dared to think we can try now. We’ve dared to step into the realm of miracles only God can do–and to hope. And that’s scary.

So, as you can see, my emotions (fragile as they are), are swirling like the autumn leaves shimmying to the ground. And it’s tempting to complain to God–a lot. It’s easy right now, to form all “prayer requests” around the little phrase, “God please!!”

God, please give us a baby. God please give us more time together. God please give my husband a day off. God please help me to be kind and compassionate and understanding …

You know, I think all that is okay. Today I was scrounging for peace–the peace that God promises in Philippians when we present our requests to God:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And suddenly, it dawned on me. There were prerequisites for that peace. I’ve met one prerequisite by simply praying, the second one is harder–with thanksgiving. 

I can’t have this unbelievable peace as long as my prayers sound like whiny pleas. Of course, I still believe God will answer those prayers, but I’m sabotaging my own peace if I insist on whimpering and repelling His peace with self-imposed anxiety, even as I pray. My attitude, even my emotions, is my responsibility.

So, I changed my prayer:

God, thank you for your marvelous plan of blessing and deepening our marriage in this season. Thank you for balancing the sorrow of this season with nature’s beauty. Thank you for giving us a baby, for making us parents. Thank you for teaching me your own faithfulness through pain. Thank you. Yes, thank you.

A Much Need Verbal Slap In The Face

By Deanna Davis

Eccl 4: 9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Pr. 27:5 Better is open rebuke than hidden love.

I was doubled over in grief and trying desperately not to vomit on the sidewalk. The news of my second miscarriage in a few months was more than heart breaking – it was soul shattering. How could God let this happen? What on earth had I signed up for in becoming a Christ-follower? And if this was my present, what was in store for my future?

Barely intelligible through gut-wrenching sobs, I cried out, “I guess this happened because there is some lesson out there God wants me to learn. And I must not be getting it.”

I could run through all sorts of theological reasons why that statement just might be true. God is sovereign and nothing is ever out of His control. Had He wanted to, He could have stepped in at any moment and stopped the loss. God does indeed use all our circumstances for good and continually teaches us through whatever happens. I knew all the church answers, but…

In that moment of honesty, when all my filters of self-restraint were stripped away, when unimaginable pain squeezed me beyond what I thought I could endure, out popped a deep seated lie that had been hidden in my heart for years. I thought God was a terrifying cop, waiting to pounce on the slightest infraction, a heartless teacher, rapping my knuckles to drive a lesson home, a taskmaster more concerned with what I did for Him than how I received love from Him.

“Deanna, that is a lie! That is a lie from hell!” As my good friend spoke, she grabbed my face in her hands and pulled me so close, she was looking right into my tear-filled eyes. And I instantly knew her words were true. She was verbally slapping me in the face, showing me greater love than any hug could have in that moment and opening my eyes to something I was incapable of seeing myself. Evidently I had internalized some pretty severe lies about God’s identity and intentions towards me. Wow! What bravery for her to go there with me and say what I really, really needed to hear in that moment!

Where these lies came from, why they were so powerfully lodged in my heart, how God used this event in my life and the resolution of the theological questions it raised is too much of a story for this post. Those things will pop up on my blog Intersections before too long. But one thing I learned is this: having a truth-speaking friend who is courageous enough to wade into very deep relational waters with me is invaluable, life-giving and something EVERY believer needs.

Deanna is the author of INTERSECTIONS.  In an effort to briefly explain the depth of her writing, I can do no better than to quote her, “Pain, nature, ideas, culture, choices, emotions, creativity, relationships, the scriptures, significant conversations. These are the places where ordinary intersects supernatural. What happens during and after those moments is worth a blog.”

P.S. You can see what I wrote today on Deanna’s blog at http://www.deannadavis.wordpress.com