I wrote this post days after losing our first baby. It is raw and real and exactly how I was feeling in those moments. Since writing these words, God has taught me SO much which I cannot wait to share with you in future posts, but for now, I hope you will read with grace my heart in its most vulnerable state. We covet your prayers as we continue to heal and lean into our God.
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I do a lot of thinking about myself.
From getting up at 4:45 to exercise to giving into my taste buds for that bedtime snack. I think of myself when I make a big decision for my future. I thought of myself when I was deciding I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Austin.
I think about myself when I think about the number of children I want to have and when I want to have them. I think about myself when I sign up for a class or put it off another semester. Or even when I put in a load of laundry or put it off another day. My world tends to circle around me.
That’s a really normal thing for most of us. God gave us this free will which allows us to choose a steak in each of our games. He did not put us in this world to doddle around like robots. He wants us to engage our element of choice.
The problem comes when we start choosing our own understanding over His.
Let’s back up for a second to a verse that most of us Christianese speakers probably know: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”
I used to sing that verse in my shower when I was a kid, blissfully unaware of the understanding I would soon have. It was highlighted in my Bible one day when things were going pretty well–when my understanding and God’s seemed to be lining up perfectly.
For most of my life, things have gone great according to my own understanding. Sure, there has been loss. Sure, there has been unimaginable pain. But at the end of the day, my plans have mostly worked out. I got married young to someone I don’t deserve. I graduated from college. I spend my days doing what I love. Mostly everything has gone according to plan.
Then I lost my baby.
All of the sudden, my understanding seemed way better than God’s.
I had this plan that was perfect. We would have the baby almost three years into our marriage—just like we planned. The baby would be born right before summer—just like we planned. We would give the baby a super Biblical name so that we got to share the Gospel when people asked us about his or her namesake.
It was a plan that was good for us. And it had to be good for God too.
In the back of my mind, I felt the Lord beckoning me to trust Him—even when my plan fell apart. But I didn’t want to say it out loud. I didn’t want to give that up or give it over to Him.
I was faced with a completely new definition of leaning not on my own understanding. All of the sudden, God’s understanding took away the baby that infiltrated my dreams. And once again the melody of the childhood song I loved so dearly replayed in my head.
“Trust, trust in the Lord.
Lean not on your own understanding…”
It made me mad. It brought out a distrust of God I didn’t even realize was lingering in the back of my heart all along.
Leaning not on my own understanding looked–and still looks–a lot like leaning into the fact that this could happen again. And no one wants to face that. It looked like questioning if I was even pregnant enough to be experiencing these feelings of grief. And no one wants to feel that shame. It looked like fighting this very similar and also very different emotional battle alongside my husband. And no marriage wants to feel that emotional separation. It looks like writing out these words that I never in a million years wanted to be writing.
It looks like ditching my good, easy plans for something that is ambiguous and gut-wrenching.
I am learning that leaning not on our own understanding is a daily battle. It’s a daily choice that God gave us the free will to make. It’s also probably one of the hardest things to choose. If I am being honest, in the days since I lost my baby, I have not made that choice. I have chosen to be angry with God more than I am proud of. I have chosen to be riddled with anxiety when considering the possibility of another baby. I have chosen to ignore my Bible sitting on the coffee table because quite honestly, I didn’t want to know what it has to teach me.
My heart wants what my heart wants. It wants the perfect marriage, the perfect number of kids. It wants to never be hurt, to never be let down, and to never feel forsaken. It would rather sit in simple love for a tailor-made-Jesus in the good times than to be beckoned deep into His comfort when He allows things to be taken away from me.
So, what? Do I just start leaning on God’s understanding? Is it that easy? That simple? By no means. But can it be done?
By all means.
Just two verses prior to “lean not on your own understanding”, we are commanded to bind steadfast love and faithfulness to our necks. My, oh my, that sounds so uncomfortable.
But guess what? Human love–or any love besides God’s–is not steadfast. The human condition is not faithful. If we bind that which is from this world to our necks, we are sure to be dragged to our deaths as soon as we tie the knot. Though I wanted that child deeply, he or she would not have loved me steadfastly and unconditionally. That child did not climb up on a cross after a life full of sinlessness and bleed for my transgressions.
Christ is the only one who can fill that void of understanding I feel in moments that I just don’t get it.
And hear me say with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, sisters and brothers, I don’t get it, and as much as I know it’s true, I don’t want to believe that.
But neither did Job when God took all he had. Neither did Ruth when God allowed her husband and father-in-law to die. Neither did Rahab when she learned her home would soon be destroyed. Neither did the woman at the well when her deepest, darkest secrets were made known.
Leaning into the Lord’s understanding does not mean understanding what is going on or why. It means remaining in His presence regardless.
You see, my understanding is as good as a rusty chair that will give way at the least amount of weight applied. His understanding is like standing on an anchored boat. We don’t know where the anchor lies—we can’t even see it a little bit. Even so, it does not move. It remains steadfast.
Though storms may come, it is staying put.
The best of days over these last two weeks have been the days that I grabbed hold of the confidence to cling to The Rock. They have been the days that I have verbally repeated truths that I do not want to believe. They have been the days where I picked up my Bible even though I wanted to lose myself in work or Netflix. The days I have agreed to lean a little are the days I have felt His enveloped me completely.
Will I ever understand exactly why the Lord allowed this? No. Will I continue to grieve the loss of my first pregnancy? Forever.
Will I have the strength to lean into His understanding and away from mine? By His grace alone.
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Sisters and friends, I have spent some time away from my blog in order to grieve and spend time with the Lord before I made my story public. Since that time, the Lord has given us another child–a little girl who is God is using to continue to teach me these things. Will you pray for Austin and me as we embark on the unknown terrain of pregnancy and parenthood?
Now that you know, I would love to hear your stories of miscarriage and loss and the redemption God brought into your lives through that loss. Please leave a comment below sharing your story.