22 years ago on May 1st, I was heavily pregnant with our firstborn child. We were everything first time parents are: scared, excited, and naive. My husband and I didn’t know what the next 24 hours held for us as we sat on our Boucle sofa late afternoon all those years ago.
But then my water broke.
I’ll spare you all the labor and birth/c-section details, however, and cut to the chase: 23 hours after my water broke, our precious baby was born. I heard the words, “It’s a boy!” but the long labor, the drugs, and the c-section left me barely conscious. A nurse held my newly-born son next to my cheek so I could greet him, but, instead, I drifted off to la-la land. It was hours before I was awake and alert enough from surgery to “ooooh” and “aaahh” over him.
22 years ago at 4:59pm on May 2, my son was born.
And I will never think of his birth without thinking of his death.
See, that’s the way it is with child loss. There is no “Get Out of Jail Free” card when you’ve lost a child.
Every birthday, every holiday, every family gathering, every family picture, and every celebration is overcast with a faint cloud of grief. The longing for, and the absence of, my son fills every one of those memorable moments. There is no rhyme or reason with grief, as those who experience it will attest. This sixth birthday without Matt? I’m tired of trying to be strong. I’m weary of putting on a happy face. I don’t want to “Pollyanna”-up today.
And you know what? There is sweet relief in admitting it. There is a peace that fills my aching heart because I know I don’t have to do this child loss thing alone. I don’t have to be strong. I don’t have to pretend it’s okay. I don’t have to buy into the world’s way of thinking that says it’s all or nothing, that we’re either happy or sad.
No, because the truth is that joy and sorrow coexist. The truth is that I am held. The truth is that I can be incredibly thankful for the gift of my son and incredibly sad that he’s not here with us for his 22nd birthday. The truth is that when I am weak, then I am strong.
It’s hard to find hope when hurt obscures our sight. But God already knows this, which is why He calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. It’s why we, like David, hide His word in our hearts. (Psalm 119:11) Pain tempts us to lash out, to stumble and fall in our faith walk. Yet God tells us, not to see this world and it’s hurts, but to see beyond, to see Him and His hope.
God knew my heavy heart this morning even before I opened my eyes. He had already prepared the devotional I was about to read, the exact words He knew I needed to hear today. It made me weep because of His love and tenderness toward me.
Choosing to See Beyond Your Grief
Jennifer Rothschild —- May 1, 2017
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)
I remember when I heard the news. I was elated and squealed and cried! I hugged our kids, my husband, the dog and anyone else close enough to grab!
I asked my son and daughter-in-law a million questions. And then, hours later, alone in my bed, I processed the news … alone in the reality of fresh loss. The sadness closed in like the final curtain after a beautiful play. Elation was replaced by reality — a reality that brought feelings I never expected.
The reality is, I’m blind. I am about to become a grandma, and I won’t see my grandbaby’s eyes. I won’t know if he has Clayton’s nose or Caroline’s mouth. I won’t see his smile. I won’t see his tiny hands balled into fists as he toddles on chunky little legs taking his first steps. I was deflated. I wept. I asked God a million questions as I hugged my pillow.
Lord, I won’t be able to care for him or take him to the park or color with him or even play peek-a-boo.
Will he think of me as the grandma who isn’t fun? Will he feel safe with me? Will I be the grandma he’s unsure of until he’s old enough to understand?
As I tossed and turned and prayed and cried, I thought of how much I wanted to feel gratitude, not grief. Joy, like when I first heard the news … before sorrow clouded my vision.
I lost my sight at 15, but now at 53, becoming a grandma is forcing me to grieve blindness in new and unexpected ways.
Grief and gratefulness can share the same heartbeat, but they don’t always share the same viewpoint. I want to see beyond grief and fix my eyes only on gratefulness.
That’s why I need to see with my heart. And, sister, I have a strong feeling I’m not the only one. But we can’t unless God opens the eyes of our hearts, as our key verse says:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” (Ephesians 1:18).
When God opens the eyes of our hearts, we can see the hope to which we are called. We’re not called to despair or constant grief; we are called to hope.
God wants to open our spiritual eyes so we can see hope with our hearts. When we see with our hearts, we see blessing and potential tucked within loss and disappointment.
When we see with our hearts, we focus on what we have, not what we’ve lost. We view our situations, our whole lives, through the eyes of gratefulness. And grateful eyes will always see hope.
Seeing with our hearts doesn’t mean we won’t still hurt. It doesn’t mean we see everything through rose-colored filters. Grief is still real, and grief still hurts. But when we ask God to open our spiritual eyes, we see beyond the
I may not see little dimples and dancing brown eyes with my eyes, but I can feel wonder when I touch that satiny skin. I may not see that baby’s sweet face, but I can hear a thousand anthems of praise in his giggle. I can caress infant skin bearing the fingerprint of God and feel gratefulness and hope radiate through my grief. I can and will see that baby with my heart.
You may hold unexpected grief in your heart today. Maybe you carry a burden that makes you grateful or a gift that makes you cry. No matter what life looks like for you today, God can help you see it with the eyes of your heart.
I know He can, my sister, because that’s what He’s doing for me. When we see with our hearts, hope bursts on the horizon, no matter how cloudy or dark the day.
God is the one who opens eyes. He opens eyes of the blind and those who see perfectly but are blinded by disappointment, loss or grief.
So, if what you see discourages you, ask God to open the eyes of your heart and fix them on what is unseen. Because what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Dear Lord, focus my spiritual eyes so I can see Your hand, Your heart and Your purpose in all I experience. Let me see with my heart today and every day, so I can see hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)
– See more at: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/choosing-to-see-beyond-your-grief/#sthash.4eYVSxr5.dpuf
I don’t have to look ahead at the day today (or tomorrow) and wonder how I’m going to get through it. Instead, I need only to look at Him, Christ Jesus, who bears my sorrows, my sins, and my weakness and becomes my strength, my song, and my joy.