I thought that my grieving was over back during the first week when this all started. I was reliving lots of feelings of "Why me?", "Why again?" "Why now?" and had bursts of intense weeping. But then it was gone, almost euphoric, and I felt so much at peace. Even when I struggled through the idea of having to make the choice to end my baby's life, I felt at peace. Even when I relived the methotrexate shots, I felt at peace. In the midst of dealing with all this behind the scenes, but having to go to work and it being absolutely crazy busy/not normal schedule, I felt at peace.
Then last weekend, something snapped. My attitude stunk and it made everything around me worse. As I look back on this, it seems to me that in times of deep emotional stress, this happens. It's like you're given grace and peace for a period of time to be able to function through the initial blow. It's like you do what you have to do, you're in a dream or something. But then, it will come back and if you're not expecting it, it hits hard. Something triggers the experience all over again. I remember when my sister's fiancee passed away having this experience happen. It happened with my molar. And it's happened again.
I thought I was going to be in the clear! I was feeling so good! Different things trigger different griefs. There are "pure" griefs. I think I've experienced most of the pure griefs. Things like when the clinic nurses ask me in the appointment, "When are you due?" and I have to say "I'm not. It's ectopic," which proceeds to send me down the mental path that "I was due in October and was going to have a baby to shower with gifts for Christmas, but I'm no longer having a baby." Or when I passed some clot/tissue thing and I thought for a brief moment, "I'm sorry baby. I will see you again someday." However, I must say that for certain "griefs" of mine, they have had time to root. In all honesty, it's transformed from grief to bitterness. Things like:
- Going to work everyday. I've been working at this place for over 5 years now. Great place to work. Great people. But everyday I go to work is a reminder that I have no children. My famous quote is, "I love my job, but I hate going."
- My marriage anniversaries. I've been married almost 5 years! It is wonderful! I love my husband. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me. But when I think about how long I've been married and how long we dated before that, it turns into an even bigger number and I think to myself, "I should have had kids by now."
- Pregnant woman. I think pregnancy is awesome. The gift of life is so beautiful! Babies are beautiful! But every time I see a pregnant woman (and there are so many!) it is a reminder of two things: 1) I will never have a care-free, innocent pregnancy experience. 2) I do not have any children.
Needless to say, bitterness is not becoming and so it is really an intentional skill of mental gymnastics (along with the help of the Holy Spirit) to master my mind. I can't NOT think about these things. They come up practically every day. But I CAN choose to not dwell on them and think about other things instead. I didn't do it last weekend, and it was bad. Oops. Today is a new day and my magnolia bush is blooming, so I will rejoice in this!
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Later after writing this, I read my devotion for today and it had some good things to say about rejoicing. I'm still working on this lesson in my life, so I really needed to hear it!
Rejoice in the Lord - Buddy Riddle, Senior Pastor of Harvest Church in Houston, Texas
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. - Philippians 4:4-9
What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord? I mean really be at peace and rejoice in the Lord. Now some of you may be thinking, “Pastor, you don’t know how bad my life is or how bad my life has been. It would be pretty hard for me to rejoice right now.” Well, we all have a starting point, and you won’t understand how to “rejoice in the Lord” if you start in the middle.
In the verses above, Paul is not saying “don’t worry, be happy.” He’s talking about a supernatural joy that comes not from circumstances, but from a deep contentment in Christ. We so often want to try to get peace and joy from our circumstances, and we keep asking God to change them. But what God wants to do is show us that the path to joy starts by trusting in the sovereign, living God through the person of Jesus Christ. He wants to show us that we can have unbelievable, supernatural joy in the middle of any circumstance. Really. It can happen.
We place such false confidence in our circumstances bringing us joy. You know, the “If I just had fill-in-the-blank, I could finally rejoice. “And just how long would that last if you got it? The reality is that our circumstances are always changing. Think about it; if you found the most wonderful circumstances—your spouse, your baby, a new car, a boyfriend or girlfriend—pick whatever you want. Will it stay the same? Well, will it? The spouse will change, the baby will need changing, the car will soon lose that new car smell, that boyfriend or girlfriend will be disappointing—it all changes. Circumstances are shifting sand and you can’t stand on them—or find deep joy in them alone.
The starting point is finding joy in the person of Jesus Christ; not success, not people, not money, not status, not drugs and alcohol, not therapy, but in a deep, abiding relationship with the Lord. You may ask, “So, exactly how do I do that?” Cultivate a relationship with Him through prayer where you both talk to Him and listen to Him. You know you are having a good relationship with someone when you are actively trying to hear what they have to say. Abide in Him. Spend so much time with Him reading His Word and praying that talking to Him becomes natural. Joy will now come, and over time, you will see that no matter what the circumstance, your joy and peace, as long as it is found in Christ first, will remain.