I had a miscarriage last November, and it crippled me creatively.
Don’t pity me, these are just the facts.
I haven’t been creating things because I lost the most precious of created things. And it rendered me incapable of expressing myself in the way that has always been most natural, and most life-giving, to me.
I’ve been writing with a limp for months. And to be clear, there’s been significantly more limping than writing.
Truly, these are the first words I’ve written about losing our baby, and they are seeping out like sap from a frozen tree. It’s slow—two whole days have passed between that first sentence and this one. But it’s sweet—there is a sugary quality to the emotions of letting these words flow at their own pace.
In case you missed the metaphor, I am the frozen tree. That’s me.
I would prefer to announce that I am the tree in the poem that opens the book of Psalms—well-watered and unwithered. But I’m still thawing from the winter that began (almost literally) as our child’s life ended in my womb.
The bleeding started on Thanksgiving Day. As someone who typically relishes irony, I found no pleasure in this, only panic. Only reeling emotions that I had never held so close before.
Fear. Grief. Anxiety. It was dizzying to carry those feelings while trying to keep a firm grip on my faith.
I pleaded with God for the life of my child. Declaring my belief in his life-giving power. Asking him to help my unbelief. Reminding him of his own words to an unbelieving Martha when her younger brother had been dead for four days:
“Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
As I talked this out with God, I named the baby Glory. And though I will not see him/her on this side of heaven, I will see Glory on the other side. If I believe.
I cradled my hope until the doctor told us, “This pregnancy will not produce a baby.” An oddly blunt way of explaining that I’d had a miscarriage. My feelings caught fire and I thought, “This pregnancy did produce a baby, doctor!” But I didn’t say it out loud because I knew what she meant. The pregnancy would not produce a full-term, wide-eyed, ten-fingers-and-ten-toes infant by July.
I immediately tuned my heart to Romans 8:28, and began to ask God to show me the good in this thing. If he can work all things for the good, this was now my thing, and I needed him to work it.
If the pregnancy wasn’t meant to produce a baby, surely it was meant to produce something else. I’ve spent the past eight months walking through the quicksand of that something else. Plodding my way back to solid ground has deepened my understanding of God’s ways, namely that they are inscrutably wise and good.
I was only a step or two into the quicksand when God spoke to me and said, “Everything isn’t good news, but there is Good News in everything.” I had just received the worst news of my life, but even there, as I sank into the bad news, the Good News still stood.
In Christ, the Good News about life is that death is not the end. The disorienting thing about a miscarriage is that death feels like the beginning. There is no sense to be made of it. It’s a backwards kind of disappointment that renders your hope hollow and incomplete.
But there will come a day when we will see the glory of God in its fullness. If we believe.
A few steps later, I thought about thanksgiving. The biblical mandate to give thanks in all circumstances has always seemed so pie in the sky. Some circumstances simply do no warrant giving thanks. Like having a miscarriage on Thanksgiving Day. But God showed me that giving thanks in every circumstance doesn’t require that I give thanks because of every circumstance.
Gratitude and grief exist on separate planes. In some cosmically spiritual allowance, I can fully experience and express both, simultaneously. I don’t know how this works. I tagged it as “inscrutable” and trudged right along in my quicksand.
I started bleeding again on Christmas Day. As someone whose native language is metaphor, I found much needed joy in this. On Thanksgiving Day, my body had gone through what was essentially the same physical process, and it represented death and loss. But this time, on Christmas Day, it meant life and hope.
Alas, there was the good. The good was in the blood.
Blood is death, and blood is life. Blood is loss, and blood is hope. What is that if not the Gospel? If not the cross and the resurrection? If not the Good News we all need when the news isn’t good at all?
The goodness of God and the glory of God are inextricably tethered. When Moses begged God to show him his glory, God said, “I will show you my goodness”, and never differentiated between the two. (Exodus 33)
When we experience his goodness in the midst of bad news, there is a foretaste of the glory he will show us when we see him. His glory is his goodness, and his goodness is his glory. This cannot be exegeted or explained, it must be experienced. And I have experienced it firsthand.
I haven’t been writing about it because I haven’t had these words. I see now that these words have had me. And as I release them, they are letting me go free too. Having written them, I can now freely move through this next season of my expression as a writer.
If I was going to write again, I had to write these words first. They are monuments of my faith. The relics of a mending heart that is fully convinced that one day I will see and know glory. That one day I will see and know Glory.
If I believe.