Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Loss

There's Nothing To Do But Wait

Best of...Lindsey Smallwood

On the ways joy makes strange company with grief and other realities of Advent this year...

I miscarried six weeks ago.

I keep thinking that I’m over it, that I’m okay. What right have I to grieve when I have two tiny boys at home to cuddle and read to and tuck into bed? There are longing-to-be-mamas and those who’ve had to bury the children they’ve nursed and held in their arms. Surely my loss is insignificant in comparison.

But then I see my sweet friend across the room, her belly swollen with new life and hot tears begin to fall down my cheeks. The hurt is not over, grief still hovers close. It aches during insurance commercials and bubbles up when I hear the baby crying next door.

There is nothing to do but wait—for healing, for another chance, for the mercy of passing time.

Now Christmas comes, the story I’ve loved since childhood, of far-off kings and unexplainable stars, of angels and shepherds and unlikely hotel rooms. The story of hopes finally fulfilled, promises made true. All of it centered around pregnancy and birth and a baby. I’m not sure I can hear it so readily this year. For as angels fill the sky and prayers are answered in Bethlehem, my own prayers end in questions.

There is nothing to do but wait.

I hate the powerlessness of hope. Waiting to find out what comes next is uncomfortable, unsettling, hard. And yet as I listen again to the long cherished story of Advent, I remember that those who wait are always in good company. Elizabeth had longed to become a mother for most of her lifetime. Anna had prayed for years for God’s kingdom to come to Jerusalem. Even Mary, with her angel visits and promises from God, had to watch and wait, year after year, as her miracle baby grew into the dying Messiah.

The stories we tend to tell are the ones with action, climax, conclusions. But life—real, faith-building, character-shaping, soul-growing life—happens in the waiting, where it’s hard and lonely and unclear.

Advent reminds us that our waiting is not in vain. God is working behind the scenes to make the world right. He’s answering prayers and fulfilling promises in strange and surprising ways. Because only God could bring kings and shepherds to the same stable. Only God could grow new life in a virgin’s womb.

I don’t know what comes next, how the prayers I’m praying now will be answered. But I know that the same God who hung the star in Bethlehem has plans for me, for hope and for a future. So I sit to hear the good story of Christmas once again. The joy throughout makes for strange company in my grief. I listen anyway, treasuring its mysteries, longing for Jesus’ Advent in my own story.

But, for now, there is nothing to do but wait.

 

This post originally appeared at SheLoves Magazine.
Find it by clicking here

There is New Life in Me

Lindsey Smallwood

Sometimes grace comes in unexpected places, like waves of sadness in the Mom's group bathroom. I'm over at Middle Places today on loss and grief and hoping again.

It took me by surprise. 

I hadn't been to my mom's group in a few weeks. A work meeting, a rough bout with illness that cycled through our family, and a speaking gig in a nearby town had kept me away from my usual Tuesday morning meet-up with other mom friends in the area. I had missed being there, I love the community we have together. 

As I was feeding my toddler the last bits of his breakfast, I saw my friend Gina from across the room. Her back was to me as she unfolded a tablecloth and set out the name tags. I smiled, I really enjoy Gina and hadn't seen her at book club or happy hour lately.

In fact, the last time I saw her was the week I found out I was pregnant, when I was still absorbing the news. We'd stood in line together with our kids at the pumpkin patch. As we'd made small talk, her daughter mentioned something about her baby and I'd raised my eyebrows, smiling. 

"Are you expecting?" I'd asked.

"Yes, I'm about 5 weeks along," she'd said shyly. "We haven't really told anyone yet."

"Me too," I told her, still feeling the strangeness of that reality as I said it.

Her eyes lit up and we hugged, sharing a realization that we would have these babies together. 

Three weeks later, my pregnancy ended in an unexpected miscarriage. And in the month since then, I've cried and healed and shared our loss with family and friends. I've felt sadness, thick and hard to push through and I've felt it loosen, dissipate, lift. If you'd asked me this morning how I felt about everything, I might have told you that things are back to normal. 

Then Gina turned around and I saw that underneath her darling dress she was sporting a sweet little baby bump.  I had already lifted my hand to wave hello, but stopped, frozen at the sight of her swollen middle. She came over, smiling, unaware of the out of control way my heart was pounding or the growing lump in my throat. We said hello and caught up briefly, I tried not to look at her midsection.

After she walked away, the tears began to come. A few quiet ones at first, followed by a flood I wasn’t expecting.

“There’s no new life in me.”

I saw Gina’s baby bump in my head and kept thinking this strange sad thought:

“There’s no new life in me.”

I muddled through the rest of the morning – mom’s group, followed by a work meeting and lunch with a friend. I fought back against the lump that made it hard to swallow, the waves of sadness I thought I’d already addressed.

That’s the thing about grief. It’s not neat, not easily contained. You don’t get to decide when it starts or stops. It doesn’t wait a requisite three weeks and then move on. It hovers, floats. Sometimes it comes in gently, a cloud of remembrance, a longing. Other times it hangs heavy, cloaking everything else in the weight of loss.

This afternoon, as I prepared to put my boys down for a nap, the phone rang. It was Mary Carole, my mentor from my Bible study group. She asked about my day and I recounted the whole story, ending with my surprise at how unsettling it had been to react to Gina this way.

“Perhaps unsettling is exactly what you need,” she replied. “Maybe this unsettling is God’s way of showing you that you’re not settled with all of this yet, that there’s more healing to be had, more recovering to be done. I think the best thing you could do is to take all of this to Jesus and just sit with it awhile.”

So I did.

And as more tears welled up and my heart began to ache again, I invited Jesus to sit with me in it. There, in the quiet, I sensed this sweet correction.

“There IS new life in you Lindsey. I am the Life.”

What words of grace. I’ve been thinking on them all day.

There is new life in me, and that life will last forever.

There is new life in me. It gives me hope here in my sadness.

There is new life in me, even in my grief, my loss, my feelings of failure and inadequacy. There’s new life because He is making all things new. He’s growing Gina’s baby and He’s growing my ability to trust Him. I don’t understand it, but I know it to be true.

There is new life in me.

 

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places.