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Angry

Angry

You know all those stages of grief? Yeah, well I am fully, completely in the stage of

ANGER.

 

It’s Different This Time

I didn’t really get here, with Dominic. First of all, I never expected him to live – maybe that was God’s grace to me, I don’t know – but I didn’t have any expectations to manage, with Dominic. I was simply shocked, and had to grab hold of the Lord in order to survive. I didn’t have any hope that he would make it, and the Lord answered the one prayer I did have – that he wouldn’t suffer.

This time is different.

Second, with Dominic I sort of had this down-deep feeling that it was my turn, anyway. That, you know, I’ve pretty much had a blessed life from day one, and although I’ve certainly had my ups and downs, I had this sense that it was kind of my turn on the crap wagon of life. Kind of hard to complain about a bit of suffering when the whole of your existence has been blessed. I knew that horrendous suffering exists in this world, and it seemed reasonably fair that I get my share of it.

This time, I feel like I’ve freaking gotten my share.

I had two weeks to feel the joy of walking down a baby aisle without pain. Two weeks. I didn’t even get to POST the article I wrote about how different it was to work at the Blue Ridge Women’s Center, knowing I was pregnant – how beautiful and wonderful it was to minister there without the weight of the baby loss pain on my shoulders. Didn’t even get to post it, before I lost this baby. (Maybe I will now, just because it makes me feel more right to be angry.)

But what makes me most furious? The fact that, this time, I thought I had a PROMISE from the Lord. I know the risks of hearing from Him correctly when you want something desperately. I searched and worked and grappled and struggled and spent incalculable time and energy trying to AVOID THIS VERY THING. To be sure that I was, in fact, hearing from Him, and not just putting my own desires into His mouth. I read and re-read and questioned and got feedback from other Christians, and doubted and told myself, over and over again, “This is not words from Him. This is your own desires”. And EVERY TIME the unifying, crystal clear theme was the same: “Hope in me. Trust in me”.

I did. And I lost what I thought was His perfect gift to me.

 

An Even Bigger Loss

In some ways, this loss is more difficult for me than Dominic. Dominic was emotionally devastating, but my spiritual life kept me going. I saw, felt, and experienced God’s personal touch, words, and presence all the way through, and I saw His plan and purpose and meaning brought about every step of the way. This time it’s not only emotionally devastating, it is spiritually devastating. And, now, I can no longer trust the very thing that helped me survive – my ability to hear His voice.

I also had hope, before – hope of His “promise” that we would have more children, that Dominic wasn’t the end. Ironically, I truly thought He was going to bless us with twins…a girl and a boy.

We had their names picked out.

I wasn’t just wrong once, I was wrong TWICE.

This time, there is no more hope for more children. There is no more promise. There is just me being very, very wrong.

I will be 40 years old in March. 40. And conceiving children has not been an easy or quick process for us…frankly it’s a miracle we got pregnant with this baby to begin with. It took two years three months.

This time, I grieve not only the death of my child. I grieve the death of my dream for more children – I grieve the large family I will never have.

I want to childishly stand up and scream at Him, “You big MEANIE!”. Or maybe something a little worse and more adult.

I know He loves me, and I know He sent His Son to live through all this mess Himself just to prove that. But I just can’t wrap my heart around how I got it so wrong – how, after all my efforts to guard against putting my desires into His “words”, I managed to do it anyway. How did I hear such consistent, unifying words?

Oh, and just another thing to throw on to the anger pile… the fact that a few months ago I had come to terms with not having any more children. Of course I still wanted them desperately, but I had gotten to the place where I could see hope, joy, and a bright future without them. It was at that point that I had asked the Lord to release me from hoping for more, and to let me just move forward in another direction, knowing that the family I have is complete. And He said no. He told me to trust him and to keep hoping.

I thought this baby was the fulfillment of that hope and trust.

I had accepted it. Had exhaled my desire and been willing to take on His will, even if that meant no more children. And I’d even gotten to the place where I could embrace that outcome with hope and joy. Now I’m back at ground zero. Starting all over, through the grief and pain, through figuring out how to lay down my desires for the reality of what He has for me. I have to re-tread that arduous path I’ve already stumbled through…to figure out how to live an abundant life without the desire of my heart.

Why, Lord, why?

I do not know. And I am angry. I know all of my blessings, I know I’m supposed to count them, and I know that so much of the world has lost so much more than I. I know all of the theology and all the truths that God is with me and feels my pain and blah blah blah. I’m still angry. And I don’t want anyone to try and philosophize me out of my anger. Just let me live it for a while. It’s what I need to do to get through this.

I’m even childish and spiteful enough that yesterday I refused to read His Word at all. Yeah, that’ll get Him.

But that lasted all of a day, because, as disillusioned and angry as I am, I don’t know how to do life without His words. Am incapable of doing this kind of pain without His words.

However poorly I hear them.

 

You Know It’s Bad When The Only Book of the Bible That Suffices is Job

So, I’m reading Job. Because unlike me, Job was truly a righteous man, and he suffered a whole heck of a lot more than I have. Yet somehow he ended up somehow being counted as faithful by God for how he went through it all. And I like Job because he doesn’t do Sunday School smiles or “No, really, I’m fines”, and that’s just where I’m at.

Yep, I find a lot of myself right now in Job’s words:

 

  • “Why was I not stillborn? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?…Now I would certainly be lying down in peace” (3:11-12)
  • “I sigh when food is put before me, and my groans pour out like water. For the thing I feared has overtaken me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” (3:24-25)
  • “If only my grief could be weighed and my devastation placed with it in the scales. For then it would outweigh the sand of the seas!” (6:2-3)
  • “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth. I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11)
  • “What strength do I have that I should continue to hope? What is my future, that I should be patient? Is my strengtht that of stone, or my flesh made of bronze?” (6:11-13)
  • “Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?” (16:15)

But, even better than that, Job was ANGRY. Angry at God, no less. Don’t believe me?

 

  • “You inspect [man] every morning and put him to the test every moment. Will you ever look away from me, or leave me alone long enough to swallow?” (7:18-19)
  • “If I summoned Him and He answered me, I do not believe He would pay attention to what I said. He batters me with a whirlwind and multiplies my wounds without cause. He doesn’t let me catch my breath but soaks me with bitter experiences”. (9:16-18)
  • “It is all the same. Therefore I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent….If it isn’t He, then who is it?” (9:22-24)
  • “Why did you bring me out of the womb?…Are my days not few? Stop it! Leave me alone, so that I can smile a little before I go to a land of darkness and gloom, never to return. It is a land of blackness like the deepest darkness, gloomy and chaotic, where even the light is like darkness.” (10:18-22)
  • “I am a laughingstock to my friends by calling on God…” (12:4)
  • “I was at ease, but He shattered me; He seized me by the scruff of the neck and smashed me to pieces. He set me up as His target; His archers surround me. He pierces my kidneys without mercy and pours my bile on the ground. He breaks through my defenses again and again; He charges at me like a warrior”. (16:12-14)
  • “It is God who has wronged me and caught me in His net…He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He tears me down on every side so that I am ruined. He uproots my hope like a tree.” (19:6-11).

Just a bit of anger.

And this is the man of whom God says, at the end of the book, to Job’s “helpful” (um, not) friends, “You have not spoken the truth about me, as My servant Job has.”

Reading Job shows me three major things, that give me perspective, if not exactly comfort:

 

  1. There is a whole lot more going on around me, in the spiritual world, than I have any idea of. (In Job’s case, it was a cosmic vindicate-Job’s-faithfulness-to-God showdown between God and Satan). I can only hope God is doing some great Satan whallop with this loss of mine. He’d better be.
  2. God can handle our anger, and He wants us to bring it honestly before Him – being genuine and honest in our relationship with the Lord is more important than being theologically perfect (check out God’s words to Job’s theologizing friends). Yeah, probably even better than hearing Him correctly. Good thing, because I’ve gotta whole lotta honesty and not much perfect hearing.
  3. He is God and we are not, (read chapters 38-41) and there is just a whole lot of what happens that we simply will not understand until we get to heaven. As a result, we can choose to deal with that reality and trust Him (which He will reward, magnificently) or fight that reality and deny Him (which won’t end well for us).

 

I am angry. I don’t understand, and I feel like He let me down, and I feel like He ripped my hope away when He tore open my heart. I am angry that my children prayed for a brother or sister (actually, for both) for two years, and they got neither. I am angry that I searched so hard to hear Him and that I heard such unified, clear words over and over again – and was somehow wrong. I am angry that I bought a woven wrap I am never going to get to use. I am angry that I trusted Him enough to share with the world my faith in Him in spite of the evidence, only to be proved the fool. I am angry that I am fat enough to need maternity pants, with no actual “maternity” going on. I am angry that I have to start over with trying to move forward without the hope of more children, when I’d already gotten to that place before this. I am angry that I am missing out on yet another one of my kids’ lives – and that I don’t even know if he was a he or a she. I am angry that I have to face this journey without the assurance that I can hear Him effectively, and I don’t really know how I will do it. I am angry that I don’t even have a body to grieve over, and no rituals to make this loss seem real.

I am angry that my daughter has a reason to ask, “Why would God give us one baby, and then let him die, and then give us another baby, and let that one die, too?”, and that when her daddy tried to explain how bad things happen in this world, that she is upset and confused enough by all of this to respond, “But isn’t God in charge of it all?”.

Yeah, angry.

And I don’t know how long I will be here.

But, eventually, I will come out of it. Because, like Job, I know He is God – sovereign omniscient, omnipotent, righteous and loving.  And although right now the only words that will come out are in anger, underneath them, in a deeper, more fundamental place, are these words of Job:

“But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last.” (19:25).

For right now, those words are going to have to stay down there, deep, until this fury boils over and steams off, and I can recognize them again. If God could handle Job’s anger, he can handle mine.

Which is a good thing, because I’ve got plenty to go around.

 

 

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