Monday, April 12, 2010
If I have learned anything from the experiences of the last few months, it is that God is faithful. Even though we may close our hearts to Him, he always waiting for us to re-open that door. If we will allow Him into our hearts, he will bless us in unimaginable ways...just wait and see!
I grew up in a small country community and attended church with my family. Church was part of our Sunday routine and we prayed before every meal, but we never talked about God, Jesus, or having a personal relationship with him. I was baptized in the third grade, but to me, it meant I got to take communion. Even though church was part of my life, it was never really a part of me.
After graduating from high school, I left home and went to college. I stopped attending church and prayer was a distant memory. I took a couple religious courses, but they only pushed me away from my faith and caused me to further question the Bible, Jesus, and the role of the church. I lived a life of sin. Church, faith, and anything religious was absent from my life, other than attending Christmas service with my family. My liberal arts education had led me to a liberal belief about religion and God. I embraced a universal religion- I believed that all sects of religion, including non-Christian denominations, all worshipped a higher being, a God of sorts, and that regardless of our practices, it was all basically the same. I believed that Jesus was a prophet the churches had used to increase their profits, and the Bible was a collection of stories used to control the nations. I still considered myself a Christian, but was nothing of the sorts. My life, words, and actions did not glorify God or live a life that was in any way pleasing to him.
Then life happened. I graduated and started a career. My parents separated and then divorced; A marriage ruined by infidelity and lies. My family struggled to maintain the dynamics of family in a broken circle. The rose colored glasses I had been wearing were suddenly gone, and I realized that life is hard and hurts. It was during this time in my life I met Brad, my husband. He came from a “Leave it to Beaver” family where everyone got along, they enjoyed being around each other, and things seemed perfect. And he had an amazing faith. I was very drawn to the stability in his life, because my life felt as though it were falling apart. He was very faithful in attending church and I went along for the ride. Over time, I began to open my heart to God and started listening to the sermons. I realized something was missing in my life, but was hesitant to accept that void as God. I had so many questions about the Bible, Jesus, the church, and religion, and Brad patiently answered them or led me to the minister. I had finally opened the door to God, but was not ready to accept Christ as my savior.
After Brad and I were married, we decided to start a family. Little did we know, this would be a difficult and painful journey. Church and prayer became part of our lives, and my heart started to change. When we were five months pregnant, we found out that our baby had died. We were devastated. At such a tragic time, Brad leaned on his faith, prayed, and encouraged me that this was part of God’s plan. I stood in awe of his faith. With his encouragement, I truly opened my heart and prayed to God. I knew everything was out of my control and I submitted to his sovereign authority and prayed for peace, strength, healing, and comfort. And he answered! I was overcome with peace and understanding and for the first time in my life, I truly believed.
Our daughter, Bristol, was born the following afternoon and I was able to say hello and goodbye with an amazing sense of peace and calm. I knew that everything would be ok, even in the midst of tragedy. I praised God that she did not suffer and that her life would be in heaven. I knew I needed to live a life pleasing to God, so I could once again be with her and I prayed God would show me the way. In the weeks and months that followed, my faith continued to grow and I began to see the many ways God works in our lives. Because I had leaned on my faith during such a difficult time, I was blessed with an amazing source of strength and able to heal emotionally and physically. I learned that God wants to help us, if we are just willing to hand over our hurts to Him, he won't disappoint! I joined a Bible study, which strengthened my beliefs and sent me diving into the word of God. The life and death of my daughter, allowed me to renew my faith and truly believe...It was a catalyst to a journey that has saved my life.
After much prayer and speaking with our pastor, I decided to commit my life to Christ and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Three days after making this decision, I found out I was pregnant! No fertility treatment, no struggle! God truly is amazing! He not only healed me emotionally and spiritually through our loss, but also physically. If we will just open our eyes and take a step of faith, we will see how incredibly faithful he is to us. A song that has pulled at my heart since the day we learned of Bristol’s death is Praise You in this Storm, by Casting Crowns. Our new due date will be just a few days before Bristol was born. At a time that will bring a new wave of emotions and sadness, we will hopefully be blessed with a new baby in our arms. Like the song says: “I will praise the God who gives and takes away… and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.” Thankfully, a friend has connected me with a support group for women with a subsequent pregnancy after loss. It is amazing to share with others who have experienced a loss, and lean on them for strength, support, and encouragement. Although a new pregnancy brings new emotions, I know that if I reach for Him, he will be faithful. 1 Peter 5:7. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you. Everyday I am learning to be excited and hopeful instead of terrified...which can be so hard knowing all that can go wrong. I am no longer naive that pregnancy = healthy baby. But I wouldn't trade my journey for anything.