As I drove home that afternoon, I asked God how to pray for her. A friend of mine was having a tough week as she revisited her pain of never being able to bear children. It was twenty years later and you could still see the longing in her eyes. Had the me today met her twenty years earlier, I would have gently invited her on some radical believing… I would have shared with her the same prayers that I had been praying over my own womb lately.
But here we were… and I was lost on how to help her… what exactly to believe God for. My mind brainstormed on what could possibly “fix” this. She had gone on to adopt but still longed to have had conceived a child. I would have totally been down with some “Abraham and Sarah” prayers. I mean it when I say I believe all things are possible… Even if some needed physiological parts hadn’t been long removed though, I doubt she would have wanted to pick up her unfulfilled dream in this stage of her life anyway. What could fix this? Nothing. Nothing but her carrying and delivering a baby earlier in her life. I could feel the sorrow sink in deeper as I imagined her trying to accept that she would never have that. How final. How hopeless.
A knot formed in my throat. My mind flashed back to me lying on our bed and Brian bringing over Nicholas’ death certificate. It had just come in the mail. To see my baby boy’s name on a death certificate before ever seeing it on a birth certificate ripped my heart open. All of the events in those first weeks after the twins were born were so unnatural… so not what you plan for. Actually, all of the events in that first year fit that category.
I reached for the certificate, curious but dreadful. I read…. “NEVER MARRIED.” It broke me. Although this was an obvious, understood reality, I didn’t have to face it head-on like that before that moment. From the time that the babies were born, even through Nicholas passing on, my mind had been flooded with whether Sophia was going to make it through each sensitive hour of each unpredictable day. There wasn’t time to fully stop and mourn. Now I had no option but to face the devastating circumstances and what it meant long-term. I was overwhelmed with the fact that I would NEVER get to see my son grow up and marry. I would NEVER look down at him in my arms, our eyes meeting. I would NEVER read him a bedtime story and tuck him in with loving kisses. I would NEVER pack his lunch for school. I would NEVER get to watch his tiny feet grow into the next shoe size, and then the next… I would NEVER.
I think this was the same day that I laid in bed, holding onto my empty belly, weeping. That day stands out to me because I clearly remember the look in Brian’s eyes. I think he thought I had lost my faith. I’m not sure what I was even able to make out between my sobs, but I remember him softly telling me “Don’t say that.” I could hear the fear in his voice of where I was emotionally. He tried to comfort me but I was just so deep in sorrow. How could he possibly fix “NEVER?” My belly was empty when it should’ve still had two babies inside, safe and protected. Now I laid there empty in more ways than just the physical reality of it. Nothing was going to change that. Nothing.
The best analogy that was offered to me during those first few, dreadful weeks was that losing someone is like losing your leg. It’s never the same, but you learn how to hobble around. You still go on, but that leg will always be gone. It doesn’t quite “heal” the way that people sometimes describe time healing all things. Some days, it might even feel like you just lost it all over again. Yes, the tricky cycle of grief… how acquainted we’ve become.
So, how do we fix the NEVER’s in our lives or in the lives of other’s?
We live with them and let God guide us how to “hobble.” Sure, we can still learn to hobble along without God, but God is the ultimate physical therapist when it comes to the “never’s.” Somehow He can make our hobbling feel graceful and steady in most moments. In fact, He is able to make our hobbling even more grounded than our original walking with all limbs. Crazy? I prefer, delusional. Thank you very much. 🙂
I don’t think those hard moments ever go away completely. Sometimes, we will still feel like we are just regaining our balance all over again. I’m only four years out, but I can’t imagine that I’ll ever stop yearning for my baby boy, Nicholas. Even decades passing by or more children could never undo that torn part of my heart. But God IS ABLE… Please don’t just pass by those words, letting them blur with the others.
God. Is. Able.
Whether it’s losing a loved one, a dream, a relationship… Whatever is leaving you feeling empty and unsteady, I encourage you to give it to God. Give Him the chance to steady your hobbling. No, it’s not an undoing of the experienced lost, or unfulfilled dream, or whatever is leaving you broken. It is, though, a mending that nothing else in this world could ever come close to fulfilling. Peace beyond understanding is real and it’s yours and mine. Amidst the most horrific circumstances, there is a peace and even a joy that you can have. It is in Christ Jesus, alone.
So, as I drove in the car that day, my heart’s prayer for my friend went something like this:
Lord, I don’t know why… I don’t know why some of the most deserving people don’t get their babies. I don’t know why we sometimes suffer horribly with circumstances that you already defeated on the cross. There is so much that I do not know. I do know You, though. God, I know that You love us. I know that Your ways are above what we could ever possibly begin to understand. I know that even when the enemy steals, kills, and destroys anything in our life, You are waiting on the other side with an even bigger victory. I know that You give us beauty for our ashes and I know that You are our source of joy and peace. So, please surround her with Your love. Steady her in Your goodness. Any places she feels sorrow, let her find You… so real and so incredible, that she sees, beyond any doubt, that You are her joy in ALL circumstances. In Your mighty name, Amen.
That’s it. There are some things that will plague our heart… forever on this side of Heaven. The only answer, here and now, is to allow God to steady our hobbling, and when we lose our balance, allow His mighty hand to hold us up.