As we approach the day our son arrives, I can’t help but feel this amazing sense of gratitude and excitement for what lies ahead of us. There’s also some anxiety and a little bit of fear of the unknown, of course, so exercising trust has been a constant aspect of these final days of pregnancy. Well, to be completely honest, exercising trust has been a constant practice throughout these whole 9 months. For someone who has always struggled with fear, learning how to wait and relax in between doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds was somewhat challenging. Yet, it taught me that I’m not in control of anything and that the miracle of life doesn’t depend on any of us. It’s simply that, a miracle, and it’s totally dependent upon grace. But oh, how hard it was to let go and trust! As each day passed with this new life growing inside of me, I was constantly reminded that it was okay to trust again, that it was okay to believe again, and finally give myself the chance to experience the joy of being pregnant again.
A few weeks before finding out I was expecting (sometime around May of last year), I heard a sermon at our faith community in Deep Ellum, which challenged me and brought up several issues I was dealing with during that time. We had an “unplugged” service that Sunday with acoustic music and without the use of screens or smart phones. We were encouraged to bring our physical Bibles in order to experience this whole idea of missing out on technology and the joy that comes with it. However, the part of the sermon that resonated with me the most was when one of the pastors started to explain this whole idea of the fear of missing out. She explained that as human beings we have a natural tendency of measuring our lives to other people’s lives often resulting in fear that we are missing out on something. Though we’ve been cultivating this unhealthy habit for centuries, the difference today is that we get to see everything on social media. Unfortunately, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we often use social media as a means of validation and comparison, which can bring a great deal of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
During the second half of 2014 and beginning of 2015, I deeply struggled with fear – especially the fear of missing out. Having lost a baby in July of 2014, I often found myself feeling hurt for missing out on the joy of being a mom while seeing on social media several of my friends posting pictures of their babies or announcing their pregnancies. Add in the fact that Jeremy had lost his mom the prior year, our business was strained and my parents divorcing after 32 years of marriage; it was definitely one of the hardest seasons of my life. During that time, I questioned God’s goodness to me and had many nights filled with despair and hopelessness. It hurt feeling like only a few people could truly understand our pain and empathize with us. Going through a miscarriage can be a very isolating thing because of the stigma and shame that normally comes with it and grieving over a baby who you didn’t get to hold in your arms is heartbreaking! Although that year felt like we were in the middle of a storm with no end in sight, it was also a year where I experienced personal and spiritual growth like never before. It was during those stormy days that I began to grasp how much fear was driving my life and taking away the joy that was set apart for me – joy that was available to me even in the midst of chaos.
When Jeremy and I moved to Dallas, over a year ago, I finally realized that this fear of missing out was keeping me from enjoying the moments I was given in life. I also realized as I began to search my own heart that this fear was deeply rooted in pain and jealousy. In the words of the Jewish author Harold Kushner, “Jealousy is almost as inevitable a part of being hurt by life as are guilt and anger.” People tend to have all kinds of reactions towards pain and there’s no right or wrong. Some of us tend to feel betrayed by life. We feel like we missed out on the fun. We start to live in fear, bitterness, and often jealousy and that’s a very scary place to find ourselves. As I look back, I am convinced that the pain I went through has opened my eyes to not only embrace every moment as a blessing, but it also made me more aware of the pain that’s around me. My heart cries for every couple who has gone through not only one, but multiple miscarriages and for every parent who has lost their beloved children due to complications or illnesses. My heart also goes out to those suffering from infertility and those who have lost all hope.
Undoubtedly, the experience of losing a baby has changed me and taught me that grief is just as much a part of being human as joy is. In life, we don’t get to choose the outcome. We are constantly moving through circles and seasons. Sometimes joyful ones. Sometimes seasons of misery and despair. We need to make room for all of it and accept ourselves especially in our weaknesses and dark places. Only when we make peace with ourselves, can we then start to choose joy over pain, hope over fear, and contentment over jealousy. With that in mind, I am discovering that there’s this incredible joy in my present moments. With this new baby, I am reminded that there’s accessible grace to me every step of the way. There is no more place for comparisons and bitterness because when we start embracing our experiences for what they are, we become mindful of our own blessings and start cultivating gratitude. Ultimately, we start living the life our Father in heaven intended us to live. A life that even in the midst of pain and fear seeks to trust in His unfailing love.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18