How Long, Oh Lord? A Different Kind of Rainbow

How Long

photos courtesy of Renee Van Druff, used with permission

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?…

But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.

Psalm 13:1-2, 5-6

The other day I read this post from Twin Cities Moms Blog about “Rainbow Babies.” If you’re not familiar with the term, a rainbow baby is one that is born to parents following a loss, particularly miscarriage or stillbirth. The idea is that the new life is the beauty – the rainbow – after the storm of a loss.

Certainly every child is precious, and there is something special about the way parents cherish any baby that is born after having lost one.The thing is, when you see a spectacular rainbow after a storm, all you can do is marvel at its beauty, and you hardly remember the darkness or fear that came with the storm. You know the hard part is over, and you have something beautiful in its place.

I’m sure that is the experience of some parents who have a rainbow baby – that having a child makes everything better and easier. However, I am so thankful to Beth, the author of the aforementioned piece, for pointing out that not everyone has that experience.

It’s been just over a year since my first miscarriage and not quite 10 months since my 2nd miscarriage. I’m also 6 months pregnant with my 6th child (the 4th that will make it to delivery). And if we’re being completely honest (and I pretty much always am), I’m not as happy or whole as I thought I would be.

What I Don’t Need To Hear

If you have ever experienced loss or tragedy of any kind, you are all too familiar with platitudes – you know, the generic, often spiritual comments people make when they want to help but really have no idea what to say. I guess these statements have helped some people somewhere at some time or else they wouldn’t have caught on as sayings. However, the truth is that these things are annoying at best, and often they tend to hurt more than they help.

One I have repeatedly heard regarding miscarriage and especially subsequent pregnancy goes something along the lines of this: “Well that loss is really a blessing in disguise, because if you hadn’t lost that baby, you wouldn’t have little so-and-so here.” I mean, I get the logic. I may have even said something like this before I had a miscarriage and knew better. (If I ever said this to you, I’m sorry.) So, looking at the calendar, it is true that if my 4th pregnancy had continued, I wouldn’t have had the 5th pregnancy 2 months later, and if the 5th pregnancy had continued, I wouldn’t have had the 6th… At least not in the same time frame. However, that line of thinking doesn’t help me; it actually makes me feel worse. It will give you a headache and probably raise your blood pressure if you do this for every dumb sympathy phrase you hear, but just for kicks and giggles (not really), can we dissect the theology of this particular platitude, please?

I am all about the sovereignty of God and perfection of his plan. I understand the eternal value of my children and the mission for which he has called them in this life. But saying that one child died to make way for another presumes that the latter child’s life has greater value than the former. I can’t help but feel this suggests God ended a child’s life because the parents somehow made a mistake and conceived at the “wrong” time. Is this problematic for anyone other than me??

Let me tell you something, friend, especially if you have ever lost a baby: God is the giver of life, and that was the right time for your child, though only a short time. Your child’s life mattered and matters.

Eternal Perspective

Years ago I read a post from Johnna regarding the late-term loss of her daughter, Branson. Although her experience was years before mine, I never forgot her words about purpose. When she was pregnant, she felt the Lord had a specific calling for Branson, and the loss of her life could have felt like that calling was lost, God’s plan thwarted. But God. It is so easy to get lost in the temporal things that we understand, or at least have some grasp on. But God is so much bigger than this life, and his plans are not limited to the confines of this earth and this life. Just as Branson’s purpose is being fulfilled in eternity, so the lives of my lost children will also realize their potential in a life I do not yet know… but I will.

Today I am struggling with the why. Why did things happen the way they did? Why would God encourage me so much in the process only for me to be let down in the end? Why is it a year later and I’m still angry and sad? I knew there would be days and moments when I struggled, but this season is quiet and lonely. I thought things would be better by now.

Maybe… Maybe we aren’t supposed to “get over it” and move on; we are supposed to experience the pain in this moment. What is light without darkness, high without low, joy without mourning? Rather than wishing to skip the hard part, God, allow me to sit here and grieve our losses, whatever that looks like. Teach me Your goodness through the struggle and the pain.

A Different Kind of Rainbow

Believe me, friend, I am not writing this from a place of healing. I do not have such wisdom to impart from “the other side” where things are happy and I’m not hurting anymore. I am writing in my brokenness, grieving the loss of my two children every single day. I ache and long to know them and be known by them. I intensely miss them, even though we never truly met. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to be learning in this. God, that would make this process a lot easier if I did! I am hurt and confused and frustrated… But I’m not getting out of this boat. There is a storm raging all around me, but I won’t abandon ship. I’m not praying for God to calm this storm or that he would calm me, his child. I’m just hunkered down in the hull, curled under a blanket in the fetal position, holding on for dear life, trusting that the one steering this vessel will keep me safe. I can’t see the way out, and nothing I do can make the ride easier; this is pure, blind, reckless faith based only on a hope I haven’t seen.

Maybe for me it’s more like a rainbow after a tornado… There is definitely beauty there, and hope for a bright future to come. But while I stand here admiring that gift of light, I’m standing in the middle of wreckage, a mess of lost memories and opportunities that will take time and work to sort through. And while I may never recover what was lost in that storm, there is hope to rebuild.

…In time.

O Lord, come back to us!
    How long will you delay?
    Take pity on your servants!
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love,
    so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!
    Replace the evil years with good.
Let us, your servants, see you work again;
    let our children see your glory.

Psalm 90:13-16

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4 thoughts on “How Long, Oh Lord? A Different Kind of Rainbow

  1. I like your closing, “In time.” You understand there will come a day when you know Peace re this. There’s a scripture that says, “Joy comes in the morning.” We aren’t promised WHEN that morning will arrive but we know it’s true from experience.

    My deepest apologies to every soul I’ve tried to encourage after suffering a lost loved one or a painful experience! I’m STILL learning when people share, they don’t need me to offer a solution, they just need someone to listen. 😔

    Like

  2. Love Karen remarks! Joy does come in the morning light. Praying for you! Having gone through three miscarriages, I’ve endured all manner of comments. I’ll spare you and just leave it at that. I truly feel they were all well-meaning though. It’s human nature to want to fix it…offer that solution. I wholeheartedly agree with Karen though. Sometimes all we need is someone to listen. Thanks for being so transparent and sharing your story. I listened and will be praying for you.

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  3. Pingback: I Lie in the Dust | Unthank You Very Much

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