I have learned over the past four years that grief is a tricky little devil. I can be perfectly fine one minute and have a tear-stained face the next. It can be all-consuming if I let it. There was a time in the not so distant past that grief exhausted every facet of my life. I was looking at the world through a lens of deep sadness. Some of the most beautiful moments were tainted by the tragedy of my past experiences.
Even after I had Samuel, I was consumed by immense grief in the midst of immense happiness. It was a weird place to find myself. I would be holding this beloved child that God had given me, so thankful he was here, but at the same time grieving the fact that I had missed out on these precious moments twice. There were moments when I was able to simply enjoy him and enjoy being his mother. Amid these moments I would feel guilty for not missing or thinking of or grieving for my babies in heaven enough, as if there’s some quota on how much a bereaved mother should grieve or think of or miss her dead children.
Then one day in late July as I sat in a crowded conference room at She Speaks waiting my turn to be anointed with oil (you can read about that here), God changed my heart. He showed me that I must not live in the past or feel bad about embracing the future without my babies. They are there and I am here. They are safe in the arms of Jesus. I can not do anything for them. They do not need me. I do have two babies, a husband, family and friends here who do need me. They need me fully present, not standing with one foot here and one foot there. They need me looking forward and not back.
Does this mean I have forgotten about my sweet babies in heaven? No. They will never be forgotten.
Does this mean that the amount of love I hold for them has lessened? No. The amount of love I have for them is immeasurable.
Does this mean that my past is unimportant? No. Everything I have lived through has helped shape me into the person I am today.
It does mean that my babies hold a sacred place in my heart. It means I don’t have to relive the hardest days so often. It means I am refined and not defined by what happened to me. It means I can enjoy the life I’m living now and look forward to the life God has for me in the future without feeling guilty. It means I can quietly remember them. It means I can believe in the promise of heaven and look forward to an eternity with all of my children.
God does not intend for us to live in the past or dwell on negative experiences for too long. In Isaiah 43:18-19 He tells us to “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” That new thing that God is doing is not in the past. He is forging a way for us to move through past hurts and into the future that He has planned for us.
In Philippians 3, Paul reminds us to press on, forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. We can not move forward by continually looking back at the past. We have to keep moving ahead. Looking back will only slow us down. If we believe the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan to prosper us, to give us hope and to give us a future, then there is no need to dwell on the past.
He tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” There has been a lot of weeping and mourning over the past four years and I know there will be more tears shed as I will never “get over” losing my babies. But I believe that right now it is my time to laugh and dance!
My eyes still well up with tears at least once a day. Most of the time the tears come not because I am sad about the past, but because I am overwhelmed with God’s blessings of the present. Grief will still come and go, but I do not have to entertain it for too long. During these times I can remember with great love the two precious lives that changed mine forever. I can choose to let joy fill my heart instead of sadness. And I can rest in knowing full well that one day I will lavish all of my children with love. Oh, my prayer is for every woman who has lost a child to reach this point of looking forward.
Until next time, keep hoping!