Faith

A Hammering Heart to Healing

As you all know, last year was a struggle for me. Heartache, confusion, and distrust dominated my emotions and I essentially let the enemy destroy my faith. Towards the end of the year, I knew something had to change. I knew that there would be no healing unless I took the necessary steps to start that process. And that process began with letting God back into my life. I brought it up to Jeremiah multiple times and we talked at length about what this would like and ultimately we knew that we needed to find a church where we could grow as a couple and as a family. We also knew that we needed to get connected with other believers that we could lean on and grow with.

With that being said, I made rebuilding my faith one of my goals for this year. Rebuilding can take many different forms, but first and foremost I wanted to go to church regularly, pray, read my Bible, and get connected.

Last night we took one of the first big steps: we attended a small group. Even for seasoned Christians such as ourselves, who are used to this culture, walking into a stranger’s home to talk with more strangers can be extremely scary and intimidating. It doesn’t matter how nice or friendly they are, it is just one of those things. But from the moment we walked in, my nerves slowly melted away.

The first-night-introduce-yourself portion was the usual bout of awkward, but once the conversation and discussion got started, I was sucked in. It had been so long since I had been a part of a group of people (more like friends!) who cared about God and about growth. This group was so real and vulnerable and I LOVED IT! I am frequently talking about how much I appreciate and respect vulnerability and honesty… and these people had no fear. It was very obvious that they trusted and cared for one another and it was exactly what I had been looking for.

I didn’t actually participate in the conversation, but more taking it all in and getting acquainted with the people and their style of discussion. Well at the end of the night, someone threw out the idea of sharing what each couple was praying for in order to receive prayer, but also accountability. This is one of those things that freaks me out – I hate going around in the circle and saying what we need prayers for… in the past it has felt superficial. Well once they got started, I realized this was not going to be like the past, these people laid their hearts and feelings out there and it was beautiful. The whole time everyone was talking, I knew exactly what I needed to say. I knew exactly what I had been praying for. It was the main reason I was there. The closer it got to me – the harder and harder my heart started to beat. People always describe moments where they felt like their heart was going to beat out of their chest – this was one of those moments for me. I could feel and hear my heartbeat throughout my whole body. I knew what I needed to say, but I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to put it out there on the first night.

God told me I was brave enough. He reminded me that this was what I told him I needed. He reminded me that waiting to share would only delay my healing.

So when it was finally my turn, I laid my heart out in front of me. I shared briefly about our loss, about how I leaned away from my faith, and how I needed to defeat this stronghold to be all in for the future. And afterward, I felt a million times lighter.

The payoff for my bravery, vulnerability, and honesty – besides feeling strong and hopeful – that someone there had been where I was and came forward. After group, she walked right up to me, introduced herself, shared something that helped her move forward, and then gave me a hug. I felt so loved. I knew that was exactly where I needed to be. I knew Jeremiah and I had made the right decision in attending that night. I knew that my healing had begun!

Faith, Pregnancy Loss

Love, Loss, Rebirth // A Faith Story

Back in May of this year, Jeremiah and I found out we had lost our first baby. For eleven weeks, we had been the happiest couple on the planet; overjoyed at this life we had created and excited for what the future held for us. At ten weeks we had gone in for our dating ultrasound where we would get to see our little bean for the first time, but instead received the news that no baby could be located. I sat in the chair with tears leaking from my eyes as I waiting for some kind of explanation that never came. We were instructed to come back the next week to see if anything changed. Nothing did. Those two weeks were the longest, loneliest, and scariest weeks of my life. I spent most of my time huddled up in our closet buried under blankets with my childhood stuffed bear. Sometimes there were tears, other times screams, and often silence. I was lost. I didn’t know where to go from there. I didn’t understand why this had happened to me… to us.

My mind and heart just couldn’t grasp any kind of explanation for miscarriage. I had so many questions and prayers that went unanswered and I felt absolutely betrayed and abandoned by God. I blamed God for the loss of our baby and held onto that hurt and anger for the better half of this year. After hearing the news that our baby had stopped growing and going through the trauma of a miscarriage, I did not want to talk to – let alone worship – a God that could do this to someone, so I stopped going to church.

Then in August, Jeremiah and I found out that we were expecting again. Those first couple of weeks after finding out were brutal. Instead of being over the moon with love and excitement, I was nervous and scared. I had multiple breakdowns involving crying and shaking, because I just knew I couldn’t handle losing another baby. I just kept thinking that it was going to happen again. God was going to take my baby again. We knew from the beginning that this pregnancy was going to be different… more tender, more cautious, but not any less loved. We chose to go in for an early ultrasound to reduce the risk of being blindsided at the end of our first trimester with bad news and we saw our baby and every few weeks afterward we went in and were able to hear its heartbeat. This relaxed my mind and opened my heart to our new baby, but I still wasn’t sure if I trusted God.

Over the last couple of months, we had talked a little bit about where I stood and what the future looked like with my faith. We discussed if I would be willing to give it another chance, and if so, what we wanted out of a church. I wasn’t done with faith or being a Christian or God, but I wasn’t sure when I would be ready to give it another go. Stepping foot into a church seemed like I was accepting what had happened and I just hadn’t… how could I?

Jeremiah received an invitation from his brother to visit their church and when he initially brought it up to me I agreed to go, but it started to eat away at me all day. The more I thought about it, the more scared and freaked out I became. That night I lost it and admitted that I didn’t want to go. The truth was that I wasn’t so hung up on the idea of going to church, but more that I was going to have an audience for this huge reunion between me and God. It just felt like too much pressure for me to go through motions of a normal Sunday morning and “like” it than for me to have an honest experience. So we ended up coming to an agreement: we would attend a new church where we don’t know anyone.

So a few Sundays ago, Jeremiah and I got up to attend a local church service. I woke up semi-confident to face my fear and to open my heart. We walked in a little bit late in the middle of worship. Worship has always been my favorite part of church. I love singing and feeling the emotion deep inside with the music all around me. But that morning was different. I didn’t feel comfortable singing, so I just read the words on the screen. I read song after song until I came to this one song that read:

Your presence is an open door
We want You, Lord
Like never before
Your presence is an open door
So come now, Lord
Like never before

Those words just kept repeating in my head. We want you, Lord, like never before. In those first couple weeks of losing our baby, I needed God more than ever, but I felt like he didn’t show up for us. He left us brokenhearted and then just deserted us. So why did I want to sing at the top of my lungs these words of wanting God? I sat through the rest of service listening and trying to stay brave. Communion came around and I took my piece of cracker and my cup of juice and was completely prepared to take the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of what Jesus did for us when the preacher said “while you take this, remember and be thankful for how God was there for you in your hardest times” and I just froze. I got stuck on those words, because I didn’t feel like God was there for me in my hardest time. How can I take this and be thankful when I’m angry and sad? I sat there for awhile and a few tears slid down my cheeks in embarrassment that I couldn’t get over this one thing and move forward. Eventually, I dropped my cracker in the juice and set it under the chair in front of me.

Although it wasn’t a perfect Sunday morning and I didn’t sail through service without any hangups, I did face my fear and walked through the doors. I opened my mind and heart to forgiveness and healing. It won’t be a quick or easy process, but showing up and being vulnerable is just the beginning.

Marriage

To Support, Strengthen, and Encourage When It Gets Bad

To have and to hold from this day forward in good times and bad. We know the vow. We swoon over someone saying this to us one day. We dream about loving someone so much that we are able to vow this to them. On August 5th of last year I made this vow. I vowed to support, strengthen, and encourage my husband when it gets bad.

When I said those words, I meant it, but I never thought too hard on the bad and what that might entail. Supporting him during a tough time at work, strengthening him when he’s beating himself up over a small thing, and encouraging him when he wants to give up on his dreams. These were bad things I could imagine in our “now”. In our future, I could see the need to support, strengthen, and encourage during the loss of a parent or job. But I never put too much stalk into bad things that could plague our present.

Then a bad thing I never imagined entered our lives and turned my world upside down.

I was a wreck. Heartbroken. I couldn’t hold myself together. I spent hours curled up in our closet under a heap of blankets. Sometimes crying, sometimes sobbing, sometimes silent. I didn’t know what to do or how to pull myself up and keep going. It was during this time that I began to think about my vows and I realized that I wasn’t the only one hurting. My dear husband was heartbroken too and he needed me. He needed my support, strength, and encouragement… just like I needed his.

Before when I thought of supporting each other in bad times, it was always him or me needing the other one, but I never thought about times when we would both be hurting and needing the other at the same time. These are the hardest times. My husband was so strong for me. He gave me a shoulder to cry on, a closet to hole up in, space to heal, arms to hold me up, and kind words when I needed them.

I didn’t understand at first how I could support him when I couldn’t even pick myself up off the ground. But then I realized that we needed to grieve together, to heal together. A way to support and encourage one another is through honesty and openness. I needed to tell him how I was feeling and while leaning on him, let him lean on me. I needed to discuss my emotions with him instead of hiding them away and dealing with them alone. I realized that by closing myself off because I was hurt and sad, I was forcing my husband to suffer in silence. It was wrong and it was no way to support, strengthen, and encourage the man I love.

May has been a difficult month for us so far, but we have managed to make it through by supporting one another in any way we can. It has been a long road, but I am so grateful to have a husband who will be by my side through it all… good times and bad.