Monday, May 3, 2010

Growing Faith

I've had an interesting weekend. I had some really good reconnect time with DH, which is always good for my spirit.

I received and devoured I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy by Angie Smith, mother to little Audrey, who died a couple of hours after her birth. The book is amazing. My review is here, if you want to read it.

Angie's net point is that after traumatic loss, joy and grief are inextricably connected. And their connection is beautiful and necessary and divine.  This was such a refreshing change from the traditional notion that they are mutually exclusive, and one must "get over" or "leave" the one, in order to understand the other. The fear and the loss of the past will always be a part of my story and my heart. But, despite the fact that I've let them recently, they do not have to dictate my ability to hold onto hope for the future.

I talked to my best friend earlier in the week (a rarity with me working two jobs, her working part time and being a full time mommy) and shared with her the thoughts I shared in my last entry. She encouraged me to consider the thought that perhaps I was looking for fear.  I thought about it for a while, but didn't really draw any conclusions. Then this morning, I talked to Mike's wife Krista, and told her what I was wrestling with. She first very practically demonstrated several ways in which this time with Mike is different than the other times, so even if things were connected before, this is not the same situation. But moreover, she challenged me to think that maybe I was just looking for ways to put up walls to protect my heart.

I took Angie's book, Kim's words, and Krista's words and drew some conclusions tonight. They're all right. I am scared. At this point, fear, loss, and disappointment is all I know of this particular journey. It's become easy to expect little from God in this area of my life. In that regard, my faith has grown very small.

We were talking in Sunday school today and Mike (same Mike) made a point to remark about how wonderful it is that faith can grow. And we can ask God to grow it. It's not He gives our allowance at conversion and whatever we spend or lose, well, tough-turkeys.  We're out of luck. But our kind God bestowed even our faith as a gift. Even that is not something we must conjure up ourselves, for we could not. In His generous nature, He gives it to us, and when we lose, expend, or hide it, He generously gives us more when we ask.

It was good to be reminded of that, and by Mike of all people, who is facing far more than I am. My faith is small that God will answer our prayers for a baby. But I can ask Him to grow that faith. His answer to our prayers for children may still be "no," but He will generously give me all the faith I ask for.

You'd think that at my age as both a person and a Christian, I wouldn't need to relearn the same lessons over and over again. And here I am. So, I've been meditating on that and praying for more faith.

I'm a lousy housekeeper. Terrible. Awful.  I hate that about myself, but there it is. When I was a kid, my grandma had this little music box in her guest room, which is where my brother and I would sleep.

This box is full of little pieces of cardstock-each one has a verse on each side and one side of each piece of paper is assigned to a different day of the year. You're supposed to read the verse for that day, then move it to the back of the stack. More times than I can remember, once I was in the room alone, I would pull this box out, listen to it play "standing on the promises,"  and then take all the cards out and figure out how they could all be in order all year round, even though there were two different days on each card.  (Yes, strange things amused me). Anyway, because of this odd fascination, I was sentimentally attached to the box and asked for it when they died.

Back to my lousy housekeeping. Tonight, I was looking for something in my room, and moved a pile of stuff. In doing so, I bumped open the box, which was under the pile, sort of forgotten. I heard the familiar tune and let it play until it ran out and enjoyed the sweet memories of my grandparents.  I was looking at the little cards, and reading through some of the verses.

In a lot of ways, the box is sort of campy and silly-- pulling verses that make no sense without their surrounding verses and putting them down anyway. For example, May 28 reads, in its entirety "Distributing to the necessity of saints. ~Romans 12:13." Well, true, it is one verse for that day. But it's not even one sentence.  And no, the rest of the sentence and passage are not on surrounding days. So, it's not a prophetic or even overwhelmingly useful tool in general. Like I said, I keep it for sentimentality, not function.

But, I decided to look for today's verse. This is what it says:

Thanks, God.

The other thing I realized is that it's not my job to protect my heart, even and especially from the Lord. It's His job to protect it, and nourish it, and build it up, and teach it. Putting up walls of fear and bitterness and disbelief really only serve to punish me (self-inflicted) and distance me from my Jesus. Who do I think I'm kidding, anyway? It's not like He doesn't see what I'm doing. The only thing it solves is that when and if the heartache comes, I'm siting out in self-exile instead of in my Father's lap.

So, I'm trying to make a conscious, child-like decision to believe with abandon, to hope without fear, and to trust without worry. And those things should remain true, regardless of our pregnancy outcome. Keeping to that will require God's help, too.   Please pray for me as I embark on this.

I feel much freer this evening than I have the last few days. And I'm so grateful. I do want to appreciate and learn from this time and stay unbound from fear and distrust.  But sometimes I have a hard time getting over my own heart to actually be that way. But God is granting that desire even in spite of me.

So, it's been a wonderful, instructive weekend. Praise God!


  1. Hi Jen,

    This was a really amazing post. Thank you for being so open in your writing about what you're feeling and going through and what God is teaching you through it all. I have fears that aren't anywhere near the level of yours, but I still struggle with them sometimes and it was very helpful for me to read your post.

    I will be praying for you!


  2. Jen, I'm so pleased with myself for remembering: I needed to buy something on Amazon and I clicked through from your site. Hope it helps! I'm thinking about you and your upcoming transfer and praying that it goes well.