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My Hope and My Future

My Hope and My Future

Some days are just harder than others, after you lose your baby.

Losing My Hope and Future

This past week, I had a few days that were particularly difficult. One was New Year’s Day. Something about facing the new year, without my baby, really hit me hard. I’m supposed to be looking so forward to this year; anticipating the excitement of watching my little man grow, of seeing which of us he looks more like, sending my husband a video at work of him sitting up for the first time, enjoying life as a family of five. Instead, I’m writing this. Everyone, all over the country, is excited and happy and looking to the future with hope, and I’m feeling…just a lot of empty.

I felt acutely, on New Year’s Day, a sense that time is moving on, but here I am, a year later, but no baby.

No seeing what kind of person he is going to become. No planning whether we’re going to get him into sports. No watching how he wants to play with trucks instead of baby dolls. No smelling his unique scent. No combing his spiky hair. And even if we ever do actually have another one, it won’t be him. The hope of him is gone. A year of anticipation, gone.

I read somewhere the following quote:

When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about just how true that is. A loss of future. A loss of hope. The loss is not only the person who is the child; it is the hope of the future. The dreams you have. The anticipation of seeing an individual become. The carrying on of a piece of yourself into the future. For some reason I feel that loss so acutely with the change to a new year. No matter what happens this year, I’ll never get to see the hope, manifested in Dominic, come to fruition. Sadness doesn’t somehow come close to expressing it. Hole is just a bit closer.

I sat there, writing in my journal, feeling angry and sad and hopeless for myself. I went through Dominic’s photos, feeling angrier by the minute that all I could do was look at photos of him. Photos that don’t change. Photos that are so fundamentally unsatisfying, because I want so much more. Then, as I sat and wept, my mind also filled with thoughts of friends who have recently learned that their unborn child is not going to survive more than “weeks” in the womb. Their first child, conceived after much time and effort. And I wanted to scream from the pain and injustice of it all.

God Speaks

So I went upstairs to spend time with my Lord. Because, when I feel the hole, that’s what I have to do. And on this night, I felt the hole for two of us. I sat down and opened my devotional book. I read the scripture listed – Jeremiah 29:11. I know it well.

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

And there it was…God speaking into my need. Right at the time I was feeling hopeless and futureless. I so love words from the Lord. I live for them, in fact. The words brought me peace, not only because of what they said, but because they showed me, yet again, that my God is personal and intimate and real and with me. That He knows my need and cares enough to give me a word that perfectly addresses that need. That my hope and my future are based on Him, not on my circumstances.

More Hopelessness

I read those words, felt God’s presence, and then…that’s when I got the news from a friend. The news that she, who has been trying for years and years to get pregnant, and finally did, with twins, found out that she (now at 31 weeks) had lost one of them. I felt the loss viscerally, like a stab in the stomach, and it unleashed a torrent of grief I haven’t tapped in a while.

How many times can the hits keep coming?

It felt like some awful black humor movie – the day of the dying babies. I couldn’t really wrap my mind around all of the pain. My pain, my friends’ pain…I’ve gone most of my life without being closely involved with anyone that was losing a baby, and now, all of these? I felt an overwhelming sense of it all just being more than I could take.

How exactly, Lord, did I sign up for this horrific assignment? I don’t want to be the repository for all things dead babies. I don’t want to have any special knowledge about this topic, or any ability to give anyone comfort on this most horrendous of subjects. I wanted to bury my head and scream, NO MORE DEAD BABIES!!!!!!

Let’s just say that it wasn’t a good New Year’s Day. Yeah, and I, uh, kind of forgot that “God speaking into my need” thing that had happened just a few minutes earlier. I’ve found that I often have a short “God-thing” memory. A little like the Israelites. But I digress…

God Wakes Me Up

After getting my emotions under control, I began checking my e-mail, preparing for going to bed. On an e-mail from a Christian book company, I saw an offer for a free book called Tortured for Christ. I clicked on it (something I almost never do), and it took me to a website called Persecution.com, run by Voices of the Martyrs, a Christian non-profit organization dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world. I know, I know, you’d think in my present state of mind I wouldn’t click on something involving torture, but sometimes when you’re in a grief moment, you just kind of have to stay there and ruminate a while.

It became clear to me that the Lord sent me to this website to give me some perspective.

The story I first saw when I got to this site was that of a Muslim Iranian woman, named Padina, whose amazing story detailed her conversion from Islam to Christianity to become a missionary dedicated to sharing Christ with her Muslim community. Padina, at the beginning of her tale, was depressed and determined to commit suicide. Her mother, who was dying from Multiple Sclerosis, asked Padina to kill her, too. At that moment, a Christian preacher came on the television, asking people who were considering suicide to instead try Jesus. Padina’s mother called the evangelist, and became a Christian on the phone. Padina also talked to the evangelist, but was adamant that she would kill herself for Allah. The evangelist issued her a challenge: Try Jesus for a week, and if He didn’t do anything for her, she could kill herself at the end of the week. Padina agreed, deciding that when Jesus didn’t help her, she would kill herself live on the show and prove her loyalty to Allah. However, the next morning, Padina’s mother suddenly got up and walked. They took her to the doctor to be evaluated, and he found no Multiple Sclerosis in her body. She had been completely and miraculously healed. At that moment, Padina accepted Christ and her life changed.

Padina now ministers to the underground church in Iran, facing persecution, arrest, and death every day. In an interview, she said, “So whenever we go out, especially on trips, we feel this might be our last trip”. To give an idea of the level of threat she faces, Padina talks about the fact that her husband fears greatly for her safety if she is arrested. According to Padina, her husband says, “It is very hard for me that you might be arrested and raped. But I have come to a point with my faith in Christ,” he says, “at that point give your body to Jesus.”

This story completely jolted me out of my self-focused, self-pitying depression and woke me up. It was like God showed me, crystal clear: “You think you don’t have any hope because your son is in heaven with me, while you get to homeschool your two beautiful children and live in a phenomenally rich country where you are free to worship me and live life however you choose. This woman faces beatings, rape, or death every single day, and she goes about her every day with hope, passion, and purpose in her love for me. You are not hopeless, nor are you futureless, just as she isn’t. You have me, and that is all you need.” I heard God speaking his hope into my pain.

Even better? In the video of Padina’s story, the televangelist on the t.v., the preacher references a verse as he tells those who are planning to commit suicide to try Jesus instead. What’s the verse?

Yep. Jeremiah 29:11.

When I heard it, I knew the Lord had orchestrated me seeing that to give me perspective. And not only did it help me see my own situation in the larger context of life with the Lord, but it showed me, yet again, how intimately God cares for me and is involved in my life. He loves me enough to speak a verse of hope and future to me, and then to have me hear the verse again – in context of someone who should have much less hope than I have.

Regaining My Hope and Future

It is a lesson I have to return to daily – that the Lord is my hope and my future. I get it, then forget it, then have to regain it the next moment. And I guess that’s why Jesus tells us to abide in Him as branches to the vine. As soon as we start living the moments on our own, we lose perspective. And I don’t mean days, I mean moments. A day is waaaaaay too long to go without connecting to the vine. At least it is for me. We start getting sucked into our hope being based on our circumstances, and then it’s pretty much a guarantee that our hope will deflate, like a balloon losing air.

So, for right this moment, I’m remembering the lesson and the word from the Lord and the fact that He is my hope and my future, not what I see in my circumstances. One step in front of the other, trying to connect to the vine each moment…that’s how I have to live, in order to find my hope and my future.

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