There are a few clubs I’ve been forced to join against my will:
The fatherless daughters club.
The sexual assault survivors club.
And now, the miscarriage club.
When my depression and trauma were at their worst, I actually felt angry with my parents for trying so hard to have me. I’m the fourth child of theirs, but the first to survive pregnancy. By the time I was conceived, their hope was running thin, but I grew up knowing I was one desperately wanted child.
And that made me angry. Because life, for a time, kept kicking me when I was down, and like Job in the Bible I wished I had not been born at all. A life of pain and suffering did not seem worth living.
At some point, after finding Jesus, the right antidepressant, and a good therapist, my perspective started to change (amazing what difference a clear and healthy headspace can do!). Life is a gift— there’s no question about that. Even if the circumstances are tragic and hopeless. I say this as someone who has tasted hell on earth before.
I have made so many decisions, sat out on several opportunities, because of fear. Fear of getting my heart broken. Fear of crushing disappointment. I have no intention of being reckless, but I refuse to let fear be the driver of my decisions.
Of course, there is nothing that seems quite so reckless as opening your heart to love. In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis wrote:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
Choosing love, choosing life…there is no bolder statement of hope than that. There is no better way to give Satan the middle finger than to choose that. It’s easy to lose hope for this world, to give up and sink into a hole of apathy, when there is nothing that tethers you to the future. I’ve heard there’s nothing that renews your investment in a better world like having a child.
In closing myself off to love and life, I thought I was protecting myself. But really, I was only crippling myself. I was making my world small. I was hindering my ability to love others. I was actually missing out on so much.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39 finally make sense: to save your life, you must lose it. The more tightly you hold to things, the easier it is to lose them, like carrying a fist full of sand. Grief and joy, love and loss, they are not so much polar opposites as they are a paradox.
If I could have a conversation with my past hurting self, I wish I could tell her that. But some lessons are best learned through experience. Maybe one day I will hold my rainbow baby and understand a bit more. Or maybe I won’t, and I’ll only ever hold my friends’ babies. It’s frustrating to not know what the future holds.
But can I ever regret choosing life, even when my worst fear ended up coming true? Even now, when the grief is still fresh and raw, I can’t say that I do.
In the final summer of my father’s life, every day was a new nightmare of suffering. I asked my mom if she would still have married my father, knowing it would end like this – knowing that cancer would rob them of the chance to grow old together, walk me down the aisle, hold their grandchildren?
Her answer was immediate: “Absolutely. Grief is the currency of love.”
Grief is the currency of love.
Photo by Mon Petit Chou Photography on Unsplash