I am not okay.
The excitement of learning I was unexpectedly pregnant at 40 for the first time after believing that it probably would never happen, only to find myself in an ER weeks later unexpectedly saying goodbye in a traumatic fashion, has left my heart in pieces.
I am not okay.
The dream that was awakened in my heart of a home filled with a baby’s laughter ringing down the hall has been lost to the permanent silence that hangs in stale air.
I am not okay.
It is a strange thing how on the timeline of your heart such joy can be found on one side of a tiny mark, while on the other, such distress. Nothing can prepare you for that moment in time when an abundant thriving hope is swallowed up in an instant by an all-consuming loss. And even as I pen those words, “all-consuming loss,” I can hear the religious voices of well-meaning saints spouting platitudes of how loss to a believer can never truly be “all-consuming”. And they would be right…and they would be wrong.
One thing I am learning about grief and pain and loss is how to lean into it with everything I am. Instead of covering it up with scriptures about future glory and future hope, I am letting the mystery of the here and now be exposed, and within that place – that place of exposing my raw wounds of disappointment – I am inviting His word. This is something that terrifies many people to even think about, it seems, otherwise, I wouldn’t hear so many platitudes. But I have learned in my years of walking with the Lord how the nature of God, the friendship of God, is so deep and so wide, I can trust on the other side of the mark on the timeline - the dark side, the painful side; the side where all I see is groping darkness and all I hear is my own wailing - I can trust Him even in this. And when I say “trust Him even in this,” I am not simply speaking of trusting that He is always good (which He is) or trusting Him as Sovereign (which He is); I am speaking of trusting Him to sit with me on the ash heap and to ponder with me the open, festering blisters that living under the sun can bring. I can trust Him to not be offended at my pain, at my questions, or at my anger. I can trust Him to not cover His ears at my keening and to even take the blows of my fist.
This isn’t a new lesson for me by any stretch. I am familiar with being vulnerable with my emotions in prayer. But one thing that has changed for me now is that I am willing to admit privately and publicly that I am not okay. I refuse to move on too quickly in the name of maturity in Christ. I am tenaciously resting in the mystery of being both a Spirit-filled, supernaturally empowered, blood-bought believer and a broken-hearted, grief-stricken, questioning bride. Because, yes, on the one hand – as the well-meaning saints would say - grief cannot be “all-consuming” for a believer. We do have a hope. We do not grieve as others. And yet, on the other hand, we do not yet see this hope. We do not yet live in eternal glory. We walk in a world filled with unanswered prayers, unfulfilled promises, and unexpected pain. The writer of Hebrews says it best when he penned that God “put all in subjection under Him (Jesus); He left nothing that is not put under Him. But NOW we do not yet see all things put under Him (Hebrews 1:8).” It is both now and now not, yes and not yet.
The danger in “revival culture” or “Kingdom culture” is that we become so focused on the fact that all things are made subject to Christ, that we forget that we do not yet see all things subject to Christ. That danger continues if we put all the blame for unanswered prayers and unanswered promises on something we, as His people, have failed to do. Sure, cessationist theology would put the blame on God and His sovereignty. But Charismatic culture puts the blame on us. After all, we argue, God is ALWAYS good and so if a prayer goes unanswered or a promise goes unfulfilled, it must be something on our end and not on His.
Sure. I can agree with that. But I can also heartily disagree.
Because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when I awoke that September morning and found myself spotting, I had true faith to believe that my promise of a child was not lost. I know that when I went to prayer that morning with the godly saints I am privileged to commune with each week, the words of destiny and hope they spoke over my baby girl were true and spoken in faith. I know that as pains increased throughout the day, I sang my songs of praise in honest, hopeful trust in God that was unwavering. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had true faith even as premature labor was racking my body and my baby girl ceased to be. Yes – even then.
“Well, then blame the devil,” we may say. And with this, too, I would agree. I am totally certain that the enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy my baby girl and even my hope of a family. I could smell his slimy, murderous essence from a mile away as I entered the ER that night. Yes – go ahead and blame him. But it is not enough to strip me of my sackcloth. It is not enough to remove my pain. It doesn’t bring my dream to fulfillment. It still leaves my homes’ halls devastatingly still with silence.
So – I am not okay.
I am still believing He is good. I am still believing His promises for me. So don’t be confused, then, if my tears still flow and my questions still remain. One does not have to be independent of the other. Faith is still present with pain. Grief is still present with hope. I will not avoid one at the cost of another when both are part of who God made me to be in this present age. I am learning to be human at a whole new level. And in learning to lean into the pain and sorrow and let it have its work in me – something the Lord told me to do, by the way, in prayer with Him – I am learning to not avoid any human parts of me. And in so doing I am finding that right now, I am not okay.
I am not okay.
And with this – I am okay.