It’s raining today, steadily. But my heart is as full as it’s ever been with sunshine. The dark days are not completely over. I don’t think they will ever vanish in totality this side of Heaven. But the awareness of joy is constant for me now. It’s not from magic. It hasn’t been instantaneous. It’s been a process of asking and trusting, waiting and wondering, anger and sadness, sorrow and surprises. Joy has always been there. It’s just been cloaked by grief for so long that it wasn’t the star. Sorrow was. I got used to it, to be honest. I dwelled there, with hope and longing, but it’s where I lived for a long long season. I fellowshipped deeply with the Man of Sorrows in that place and the water tasted delicious because of the desert I was in. I would never have wished for those long days, hours, minutes, and seconds. But I wouldn’t trade the person that they’ve made me either.
In the throes of fertility issues and losing our first baby, the last thing I wanted was to read someone else’s story that had been in my shoes and then suddenly had a baby with a happy feel-good ending. It felt cruel to my soul to read those lines because there were no guarantees for me. My future and my hopes of what I dreamed of in the word “family” were open ended. I didn’t want to let my guard down to hope for the impossible.
But then the impossible happened to me…again…after growing comfortable in loss and sorrow.
I held my breath for over nine months.
In fact, every breath seemed to inhale a clinging to the hem of Jesus’ garment and exhale promises of His presence.
He gave me no guarantees.
But He did give me peace.
I read a book during my early days of the loss of our first child. I kept closing the book to look at the cover to be sure it wasn’t my name written on the cover as the author, because it felt awfully familiar. Her dad died. Her husband lost his job. Finances were atrocious. They had fertility struggles. They knew the loss that miscarriage brought. Africa became a catalyst for massive heart work for them. Adoption came to the table. It was just so familiar. I began to wonder if our family’s future might look like theirs, because it gave me hope. It gave me hope that I wouldn’t always dwell in the intensity of sorrow that I was experiencing. I would see more.
Sara Hagerty said this in that book, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, “I would be naive to think that future years wouldn’t hold more pain. It would be just as naive to think that finding Him in the pain would be my only story.”
My story is not identical to theirs after all, but it has found a reclaiming of joy, just as theirs has. I know what it’s like to see images swirling around the internet and swollen bellies seemingly shoved in your face when your arms are empty and your heart is shattered. I know what it’s like to wonder why on earth you are not allowed into the club of motherhood that seemingly everyone else seems to be so easily inducted into. I know what it’s like to wonder a thousand what if’s. I know what it’s like to receive all those well meaning comments, but feel the daggers that reverberate with internal screams of, “You have no idea!” I know what it’s like to just sort of give up on the dreams you had and move on to new ones, still jaded and skeptical that even they will work out. I know what it’s like to have to distance yourself from reminders of the pain to keep from crumbling. I know what it’s like to wake up every day and remember. If that’s you, today, for whatever reason, in regards to motherhood or whatever the fill in the blank is, I get it. You are not alone. You are not forgotten.
It’s hard. So hard. And I once thought that I would always live in those places, with every breath that was left in my days.
But then, the impossible happened.
It wasn’t just that God created a miracle in my womb, it’s that He created a miracle in my heart.
He helped me to find Him in the joyful places again.
We were not made to dwell in sorrow forever. We were made to live joyfully and abundantly.
But how? How is one to navigate through such perplexing emotional, mental, and spiritual lands?
One could never expect to get over the sorrow. No. Because, you can’t get over a mountain that reaches the brim of your world. You have to go through it.
Sometimes, it even can be a little bit of both.
What brought me from one place to the other remains the same: Jesus.
There are no guarantees for fairy tale endings. But the presence of Jesus to those who have received Him as Lord IS a guarantee. And in His presence, there is fullness of joy.
So, this morning, as it rained, there I was, finding God in a place of joy once more. I found it while dancing with my seven month old in my arms by the fireplace to Stevie Wonder’s “Sunshine of My Life.”
My joy is not quite full yet, because I haven’t stepped into Glory to experience joy without desperate sorrow. But where I am living right now is in the fullest joy I’ve ever experienced, because Jesus is with me and He has gotten me through the wastelands of the last chapters. I’m sure to experience more wastelands ahead. Now that I’ve lived in this uncovered joy, though, I’ll remember that one day after the next sorrowful season, I will find God in the joyful places once again just as surely as I live in them now.
That might seem impossible to you today. But remember: He’s Lord over the impossible.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11, ESV