Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

New Life

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.

 

When Life Falls With The Leaves

Best of...Lindsey Smallwood

I'm back at Middle Places this week, on the changing seasons, the good news of the gospel and making room for hope again after miscarriage...

There’s a tree in the courtyard near our apartment building.

When we moved in last January it was leafless, covered in a blanket of snow. On Easter morning we took a picture in front of it, delighted that spring time had brought soft green leaves and bright pink blossoms to decorate our common area. As summer came, the blossoms became some kind of tiny cherry-apple hybrid, a fruit adored by the squirrels that share our little community.

And now, as the days grow shorter and the air becomes cooler, our big green tree has set it’s leaves on fire – they blaze orange and yellow, blanketing the ground below as each day more and more flutter off the branches and down to their resting place in the grass.

Autumn has arrived.

I’ve never really noticed the seasons this way before. I grew up in Alaska, where some describe the seasons as nearly winter, winter, still basically winter and summer – short and sweet. There was high school and college in Texas, which was a bit of the same in reverse. And then nearly a decade in California, where the seasons change nearly imperceptibly as we enjoy life outdoors all year round.

But Colorado does it right. There are four beautiful seasons here and for the first time this week, I’m entering the fourth, autumn. The tree in our courtyard is like those on the hillside and the ones I see lining the streets around town, alive with colors, leaves blowing through the air as the sense that the world is changing is everywhere.

After watching it now for nearly a year, I find myself considering the lesson of that tree outside our apartment, dying then resting each year to allow for new growth in the season to come. It reminds me of the promise of the gospel that a new life awaits us, if only we’ll die to this one. I see myself in that tree, a thousand little leaves beginning to turn. And I hope that what’s dying are the places I no longer need, the mask of having-it-all-together, the stains of dishonesty, the false pride in feeling important for using my gifts.

There was a literal death in my body last week, a miscarriage that caught us by surprise. As I’ve grieved and rested and begun to heal these last few days, I’ve fought the impulse to ask why. Why another baby lost? Why more death? Why not this time?

It’s not that why isn’t allowed, I can “why” all the live-long day. But why is less helpful than “What’s next?” And for me, I know that what’s next has to be letting go of the dreams I’d started dreaming, the plans for this sweet little life that is complete much sooner than I might have chosen. I have to let those hopes die here in my tears, as I’m held by my Comforter and Keeper, so that my heart can start to hope again.

Death isn’t easy, but it makes way for something new. It’s happening in my courtyard and it’s happening in me, if I’ll let it. I want to surrender, to open my hands and let the leaves I’m holding onto fall where they may. It’s scary, letting go, but I can do it if I trust that I am rooted and established in Christ, who holds me together, redeeming these little deaths into something full of new and lasting life.

 

Any death dangling on your tree this week, friends, waiting for you to let it fall? Hear this gracious word of new life today:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

 

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places.