The day had finally arrived. That weekend we had told everybody we were expecting and we couldn’t be more excited. We made it to 12 weeks and we were going to hear the baby’s heartbeat. The nurse prepped me and we anxiously waited to hear the wooshing sound of our baby’s heartbeat. This was our first pregnancy, so we had no idea what was in store and my heart raced as I waited for that sound.
After a couple minutes, the nurse told us she was having trouble finding the heartbeat. She mentioned that maybe the baby wasn’t quite as far along as we thought. We had to drive to another office to get an ultrasounds and I sat next to my husband and waited with a racing heart. I was excited thinking I was going to see my baby for the first time. I still had a huge amount of hope because I really didn’t know what to expect. When I was finally laying on the chair in the ultrasound room, the technician clicked around for quite awhile looking at things. What happened next is a vision I can still see clearly in my mind. The ultrasound technician, a women I remember to be very sincere and gentle, reach over and put her hand on my arm and said, “Jennifer, I’m not getting a heartbeat.”
While I don’t remember the waves of emotions that came after that, I do remember feeling like I was in a dark place. The first thing that came to my mind was, “I haven’t been reading my bible enough lately so God must be punishing me.” I was struggling to find reasons to reconcile why He was punishing me this way. I felt alone and confused. All I had wanted for as long as I could remember was to be a mom.
We scheduled a DNC and I had no idea how to prepare myself for all that would come next. Other than the extremely kind nurses who cared for me beforehand and the unemotional doctor who probably had done this so many times before, I don’t remember much else. I remember entering the hospital sad and scared and leaving feeling completely empty. To add insult to injury, a week into recovery I was experiencing a lot of pain. I knew something wasn’t right because the pain was getting worse. Back to the doctor I went. I had an infection, which isn’t uncommon after surgery, so I was sent home with antibiotics and after a few days my body was starting to heal.
A few weeks later it was Easter and since we lived 7 hours away from home and my husband’s job was to lead worship at our church, I was sitting in the service all alone. I remember struggling to sing the words on the screen. I was sitting alone in my grief, no parents to comfort me and I felt so far away from God. I truly thought I had done something wrong, something to upset Him and felt He was disappointed in me and withholding blessings. Who was I? I certainly was no longer the mom I had dreamed of being. My identity was so wrapped up in that I couldn’t see who I truly was as a child of God. My heart was still broken; not only because of all I had just been through, but also because I felt like a child that had been scolded by her parents. I was being grounded and I something I loved had been taken away from me. I felt like God was trying to teach me a lesson to make me a better person because I hadn’t been quite good enough or loved Him enough.
Here’s the thing, God didn’t take that baby away from me to teach me a lesson or because I didn’t DO enough to please Him. I grew up trying to please everyone, I still get caught in that trap today. A big struggle of mine was that I thought I had to earn everyone’s favor; my parents’, my teachers’, my friends’, and ultimately God’s. Up until last week I thought maybe my personality allowed me to think this way because I have always felt a strong sense of wrong and right. But last week as I sat around a table with women I was studying God’s Word with, I was reminded I had not been alone in these thoughts. One sweet lady asked, “How do we know what we are doing is enough for God?” This question struck a chord in me and took me back to the 25 year old version of me who asked the same question after having my first miscarriage. Other women sat around the table talking about how their entire growing up years they believed they had to be good to please God and do good things. They were living more of a moral life than a grace-filled life.
Two miscarriages, struggles of infertility, and two growing children later; I joined a study at church on the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I originally joined the study because I knew we would be serving out in the community and well, that was right up my alley– doing, working, loving others. (All three of those things are not bad, but when they become our identity or we think we need to do them to earn God’s favor is when the trouble comes in.) What I didn’t expect was to be completely wrecked at the new knowledge of God’s incredibly great love for me. Francis Chan has a way with words and he described God’s love for his people like I had never heard it before.
All these years I thought God loved me, but I never understood how much. I never understood the full extent of His love and reading these words was my ‘aha’ moment. I was a complete puddle at the realization of how much God loved me. How dare I think God would withhold good things because I wasn’t doing enough. I made my relationship with God all about what I was bringing to the table, rather than what He ALREADY brought, what He ALREADY sacrificed. He Was and Is and Will Forever Be the same loving, just God who provided a saving grace for all people in all generations.
Maybe today you need to hear God loves you– like really loves you! He loves you through the thickest muck of your life, the biggest personality flaws, and horrible life-altering decisions. There is no decision too messed up to keep him from loving you. A relationship with Him is what he desires because He ALREADY loves you. We grow in our love for Him and others through a growing relationship with him.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 4:7-10
My relationship with God was skewed in that I thought I needed to earn his love and I saw his love through blessings in my life. How wrong of me to think just because something didn’t go my way God doesn’t love me. With that thinking, I should also believe that others aren’t loved by God because of the trials they experience, but I have never once thought that. I could understand how God loved everyone else, but I struggled to own that truth for myself.
I know there are many people with the work hard/work harder mindset. I pray you would grow in a relationship with the God of grace who knew not a one of us had anything to offer Him that could atone for our sins, so he made a way for us through Jesus’ blood. Tim Keller said it best, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
*If you are struggling with anything talked about in this post, whether it’s a pregnancy loss, or understanding the grace God gives us all, reach out to someone to talk to. We were not meant to live this life alone and we can grow so much in our vulnerability. Please know I am always here too. I’m just an email away.