Over the last year, after turning in both my manuscripts to ABH for editing and publishing, I started working on something completely different. I wanted to focus on short stories, and I felt compelled to write personal testimonies on the names of God. I've been writing one a month to take to my writer's group for critique, and now it looks like they all might be turning into another book. I'm not really sure what God wants me to do with them yet, but here is the latest one I wrote. Since it coincides with the release of Unexpected Tears, I thought I'd share it here. Feel free to share this blog post with anyone you think could benefit from it.
Jehovah Oz, the Lord my Strength
She reads the books about what to expect during the pregnancy, the labor, the delivery, and even about the first few months of her child’s life. She and her husband choose a name, paint the nursery, stock the closet, set up the crib, and decorate the room. They anxiously await the day their child will finally come home. They dream about this day for nearly nine months, ever since the moment they realized the miracle of life growing inside of her.
She goes in to see the doctor for one last check, assuming their baby will be here any day.
Delivery day comes, but they return home, devastated, without a baby in their arms. Instead, God holds their child in Heaven while He holds them in their grief.
A new wife, baffled by her own body, yearned to be a mother someday. They told her she’d never be able to bear a child of her own. Her dreams of motherhood vanished as she processed those words. She and her husband grieved, and then they prayed.
Meanwhile, a young girl, barely prepared for the responsibilities of an adult, responds with fear and trembling as the pregnancy test reveals a positive result. She weighs the odds and decides someone else should take on the responsibility she isn’t ready for.
Someone else who prayed desperately for the chance to be a mom.
She and her spouse read the books, chose a name, painted the nursery, and made every last preparation. When the birth mother went into labor, they rushed to the hospital to be present for the delivery. Someone else would give birth to the child they’d been waiting for.
In their excitement, they missed the fear and mixed emotions in the birth mother’s eyes. She’d had nine long months to think, meditate, and ponder over the reality of her decision. The moment she heard her child’s first cry and held her child in her arms, she knew. She couldn’t let her child go, after all.
With tears in their eyes and a hollow ache in their soul, they went home without a baby in their arms.
God held them tight as they grieved the loss of the child they had prepared for. The child who never came home to them.
We held our son close. We loved him dearly. We thanked God for him, our little miracle. A miscarriage took away his only sibling very early in pregnancy. That child existed in my womb just long enough to let me dream about the possibility of our son having a brother or a sister. Just long enough to make our family feel incomplete.
Two years later, we anxiously awaited the arrival of both his brother and his sister.
We read all of the adoption books, took the parenting classes, and received specific counsel regarding the adoption of older children. We knew their names, saw their pictures, met them in person, and even chatted with them by phone on a regular basis. We painted their rooms, set up the beds, and filled their closets.
Over a year of paper-pregnancy gave us plenty of time to dream and envision how life would change as a family of five, rather than our intimate family of three. Our hearts and our home were more than ready for them to arrive.
We didn’t foresee the glitch in our paperwork, though, that would halt our whole process.
Just a few months later, we all three grieved when neither brother nor sister came home. God held out the bottle and collected our tears.
Where do you turn when the child you’ve prepared for doesn’t come home?
It’s a different kind of grief. It’s a loss that must be properly and fully grieved, but it cannot be categorized with the loss of a child you have raised and already called your own. Very few understand the emptiness that follows losing a child you held in your heart but never in your arms.
When I lost the kids I tried to adopt, I felt so alone. I connected more deeply with those who had lost children due to other heart-wrenching circumstances, but a guilt over my loss not being as great or tragic as theirs kept me from fully opening up.
Instead, I retreated into myself, withdrawing from friends, activities, and social circles. I didn’t talk to anybody as each stage of grief set in. I just kept myself as busy as possible as I searched for something else to fill the void in my heart.
I went through the shock, the numbness, and the denial for the first few months. Then when reality finally set in, the anger and emotional outbursts came. After that came the fear. The fear that it was all my fault, that it could’ve turned out differently if I would have sought more counsel in the beginning. Fear that I’d never escape this pain, this heartache, this guilt. Fear that I’d never think clearly again.
Everything inside me hurt. I had two choices. I could let the bitterness continue to grow and numb my heart enough to move on, or I could reach out for the tender strength offered to me in the initial moment of loss.
I chose to reach upward, taking hold of Jehovah Oz. He embraced me as I finally let the tears spill out, and then He lifted me up when I didn’t have the strength to get back up on my own. He held me steady while my whole body trembled with fear. He gently whispered my name, over and over, reassuring me He’d see me through this. He gave me breath when the grief seemed to suck away all my air. He lifted the guilt when I felt its weight might suffocate me.
He spoke promises over me every day, whenever He caught my attention at random moments through specific Scriptures in a devotional, songs on the radio, e-mails from friends, or cards in the mail. His strength came through other people’s prayers for me, people I didn’t even know were praying. He showered me with His love and convinced me I could trust Him, but I had to let it go. I had to let my children go and accept His will for their lives. I had to believe He loved them and that He had not abandoned them, while at the same time I had to believe He loved me and had not abandoned me.
I still grieved. I still hurt. But I found that grief eventually carries on into the light. It gave me a new sense of determination to move forward, and it led me to new relationships. I found myself stronger than before, and I found a new me clinging to a new hope. He affirmed to me that this circumstance held purpose, and He began to use me to help and encourage others. Not only those who might be grieving a loss or hurting in some way, but anyone who craved an intimacy with Christ or a greater understanding of Scripture. Anyone who wanted to experience the Strength they saw in me, a strength beyond myself.
Jehovah Oz, the Lord my Strength. (Exodus 15:2)
"The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
Also known as:
Jehovah-'Ez-Lami- The Lord my Strength – Psalm 28:7 (NIV) The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.My heart leaps for joy and with my song I praise him.
Jehovah-Tsori - Lord my Strength - Psalm 19:14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Read the full story here: