I finally had a negative pregnancy test this week. It’s a relief, since I’ve been waiting for that, for a sign that my body is catching up to reality, but I cried anyway. I cried because now even my body finally knows you’re gone.
It’s so hard. I wake up every day so tired, upset, heartbroken, and angry. People around me appear to want me to be happier by now. At peace. With my joy restored and hopeful for the future.
I know they mean well, and for that reason I’m not angry at them. If anything I feel bad for letting them down. For not meeting the joy deadline they had for me. I know I wouldn’t know what to do or say in their shoes. I bumbled through things the one time I was there for someone else who grieved. She told me I was helpful and didn’t say the wrong thing, but that was purely by the grace of God. It’s hard bearing someone up in their suffering. It’s tiring. How do I reach out to those who say they are there for me without dragging them down with me or wearing them out? How do I keep from exhausting them but also not let myself live like this alone, especially if they’re willing to help? That one is a tough one. I don’t know the answer. I’m exhausting even to myself.
I know the whole world suffers. That many suffer far more than I do. But suffering cannot truly be quantified. All I know is the suffering I thought I bore during hard times in my past, or even when trying to conceive and receiving a bunch of negative pregnancy tests, is nothing. Nothing at all. How on earth did Job not curse God and die, with all his own suffering?
While the negative pregnancy test propels me into the future, finally, it also opens me up to a time of enormous fear. I’m terrified of the process of getting pregnant again. Sometimes I think that being pregnant again will make me feel better, but it won’t. Not until 20-odd weeks of pregnancy when it’s less likely, though not impossible, that I’ll lose your sibling. Even then, maybe not. Even when I’m happily the mother of your little brother or sister, Rowan, I will still want you. I will still long to hold you. I will still shake my fist at God and hate that he took you from me. Wherever I’ve read, “look ahead and have hope. You’ll be a mommy again” I have felt frustrated. No one can know how much I loved you. I cannot simply move on from you.
For that reason, I cannot find my hope. Or my joy. Or peace, or patience, or optimism, or rest. I hate that a month later I am still this hopeless and despairing. But I cannot force those things. Choose joy, I hear. Choose hope. No. In fact, all I can do now is choose to keep from taking out my despair on other people, bringing them down with me, and choose the methods of distraction I use to drown out the constant sick feeling in my stomach all day long.
I could choose to go back to church. To read my Bible, to listen to worship, to pray. But all of them would be false and empty. Purely motions that mean nothing to me right now. And God would not be closer to me nor more pleased with me or my empty words. My present communion with God consists in reading C.S. Lewis, hearing an Owl City song about God that Adam Young snuck into an album about shooting stars and sunny beaches, in writing this blog, and in coming in to work every day at a church.
Honestly, though, I think God is fine with it. It’s funny, but much of my perfectionistic, “good girl” life I have spent wondering if God was displeased with me for failing to read my Bible that day or not paying attention in church. But now that I am openly ignoring the Christian disciplines and angry with him, I don’t feel that he is angry with me. He stands there in the room with me and takes my tongue-lashings and anger silently, patiently. He doesn’t force hope or joy or peace onto me, much as I wish he would. But he doesn’t berate me or punish me either. He stands silently, waiting for me.
Again, the bolted door C.S. Lewis spoke of. There’s no joy on either side of it. No answers, either. I wish God would come out of his absence and silence and tell me to shut up, to move on. I wish he would rip the ache out of my heart and set me free from it. I wish he would drag me into the light and leave me there instead of giving me little tastes of it and taking them away again.
I wish he would do the same for all who suffer. I wish he would set free the slaves and punish the evil doers and comfort the bereaved. Here’s what I know: he first loved us, and then he rescued us, and then he sent the advocate to us and promised us Heaven one day. If this is all he does for me and the rest of the world in our suffering, that should be enough. And it is. But it may take some time before I can praise him for those things while swallowed up in sorrow.
If Jesus himself can draw away from the rest of the world that badly needed him to sneak to the mountainside and mourn the death of his friend John, and if he can weep over the sorrow of his friends Mary and Martha, then I can weep and mourn too. It is the unfortunate result of the Fall that we must all have our hearts shattered. Whether slowly over time or all at once or more than once, we all suffer. I hate it, but am comforted that God is not unaware, has not left us here to die. He is not actually absent from me no matter how silent he seems. He is not only with me but within me, bearing me up and giving me the strength to get up each morning.