Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's Not Just A Rock

Those of you who know me and love me know that I am hurting right now. I am going through the most difficult struggle of my life to date. I’m usually not one to sensor myself here, but I don’t want to go into details about this struggle, as the details aren’t relevant to what I want to say….

My whole life I have gone through struggles. I’ve never been one of the “lucky ones” who just seems to get the easy side of things. Nothing has ever come easy to me. I’ve gone through pain and heartache more times than I can count. I’ve suffered, ached, grieved, hurt, experienced deep loss, wept. For many, many years of my life I allowed this truth to harden me, to make me cynical and bitter. I lived life like a victim. And one day, about seven years ago, I decided I didn’t want to be a victim anymore. I didn’t want to be defined by my hurts. I decided it was time to take my life back. And to find lessons and strength out of all this pain and struggle. And I have learned many, many things. I have learned that I am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I am a survivor. I am resilient. I am worth it. And if I look hard enough through the pain, there is a lesson to be found….One of the things The Creator is teaching me in this time of brokenness that I am experiencing now is that it is out of brokenness beauty and strength are found. 

One of the ways God speaks to me is that He gives me heart shaped rocks. I’ve found them exactly when I needed them for the past eight years. It’s one of the ways The Creator lets me know that I am seen and loved and that He hears me and will give me the desires of my heart if I am patient with Him. There’s a verse in the bible that states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” These rocks are a reminder to me that the pain I feel means I am growing and living instead of hiding away for fear of being hurt. I’ve found these rocks in times of deep despair. I’ve found them when I worried. I’ve found them when I was questioning God and His promises to me. I’ve found them when I’ve ask God to affirm my hopes and desires. And I’ve never, ever found them when I was looking for them. I only find them when I need them. The last one I found was two months ago just after receiving devastating news – a reminder of His love and that I am not alone.

The elders in the community I sweat with gifted me a rock this month. During a work day, a group of people were loading and unloading a pile of rocks. The rock I was gifted is a rather large rock, the largest of my collection and unique for a couple other reasons as well…It seemed to be an ordinary round rock, but when it was tossed into the rock pile, it split open and broke into two pieces. And when it was split open, there was a heart shaped rock in the middle of this big rock! The rock split exactly in half, a clean break, revealing a heart in the middle of each half. Hearts that could not have been seen without the brokenness. And what makes it even more amazing, is that my prayer in lodge that day was that God would heal the brokenness in my life. And then I get this rock. This rock, which to most people just looks like a silly, dirty, broken rock. But it is not just a rock. It is a promise. A love note from The One who loves me and sees me.

To me, the message is quite clear. Brokenness is not a punishment. It’s not a bad thing. It's painful - oh so painful. But in that brokenness there is beauty and blessing and love and hope and grace and mercy!

And so, as I work through this time, I remind myself that I am strong. I am beautiful. I am a warrior. A survivor. I am seen. I am loved. God loves me so very much. He sees my pain and He hears my heart. And He is answering my prayers. Aho!

Friday, October 24, 2014

M is for Miscarriage

It's been two months. Two months of silent grieving. Two months of fighting back tears every time I see a pregnant woman or a newborn. Two months of pretending it didn't happen to me. I wrote this letter hoping it would help my heart heal from this deep loss.

To my unborn child:
 It was August 18th that I found out you existed. It was that very day that I lost you too. I'm sorry I've been afraid to grieve you, and I've been too scared to talk about you. If I do, it will make this all real instead of the bad dream I pretend it to be.
My whole life, for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom. This deep longing has been placed in my heart by The One who created me. I know with every fiber of my being that I was made for motherhood. And as I have gotten older, that longing has only grown stronger. There were times of doubt and wondering, times where I would cry out to God and ask Him why He would give me this desire if he wasn't going to make me a mom.
And then I met your father. Oh man, did I fall in love with him quickly. I knew weeks into knowing him that he was my half-side, my life partner, my husband, the man I was to build a family with. And we talked about the idea of you. What kind of parents we wanted to be, how blessed our kids would be to have us as a mom and dad. We were looking forward to a future with you in it.
I remember the moment I found out you were growing inside of me. It was a moment of pure joy and of great fear. I was going to be a mom. I was so excited. But you see, your daddy is living 1800 miles away, and I had no idea how this was going to work. I never wanted to be a single mom. What would happen? Would I move? Would we just stay apart? You would have come into this world in April 2015. Your dad would still have three months left in Texas. What would we do? But none of these questions matter anymore.
Hours after I knew about you, I started losing you. My body betrayed me. You were taken from me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I cried for hours in secret for the next three days, blaming myself for losing you, asking God why He would take you away from me, and wondering just how I was going to tell your dad. It took me three days to find the courage to tell him, and I just blurted it out. I didn't know what else to do. He listened to me cry 1800 miles away and did his best to comfort me while trying to wrap his mind around the truth that he was a dad - if only for a moment.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about you. I would be thirteen weeks pregnant. They say you would be the size of a lemon and be three inches long....But you will never grow past the size of a poppy seed...I will never know you. I will always wonder what you would have looked like. Would you favor me or your dad? Would you have lots of hair? What color would it be? Were you a boy or a girl? Did you have dimples? Freckles? Would you have an itty bitty booty like me and your dad? I'll never get to touch your soft skin or hold you in my arms or count your precious fingers and toes. I'll never get to hear you coo or laugh or cry. Who would you have grown to be? What would your personality be like? I sure hope you would have your dad's confidence and your mom's compassion. What would your gifts and talents be? What would you love doing? I'll never get to see you take your first step, take you to your first day of kindergarten, chaperon your middle school dances (and embarrass you), help you get ready for prom, watch you graduate high school, move you away to college, see you fall in love and get married and have a family of your own.
I'll never get to be your mom......I'll never get to be your mom.......
I would have been a great mom. I would have loved you so very much. I would have been so proud of you. I would have given you hugs and kisses every day and told you how special you were just by being you. I'm sorry I'll never know the answers to any of this. But I will always wonder.
 I don't know why you only had three weeks to grow or why you never get to bless me and your daddy with your life. Only The Creator knows that. But dear little one, please know that I will always, always love you. I will always carry you in my heart - my little poppy seed.
I love you to the moon but further!
~Your mom 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Is Love?

It’s been such a long time since I've written a post. I haven’t written for lots of reasons. This year has been filled with lots of ups and downs – more ups that downs :).  I went through a pretty deep depression. I started seeing a counselor. I ran my third half marathon. I almost lost and quit my job twice this year. I traveled west of Chicago for the first time in my life. I've had some of my favorite people move away from Kalamazoo. I learned to better love myself.  I’m learning to let myself off the hook and not be so hard on myself. I fell in love for the first time.

I came across the article below by Mike Iamele and wished that I had been eloquent enough to write it. The author’s words/heart/thoughts articulate my feelings on love so very well. And as I have walked through my relationship with Dave over these past fourteen months, I have learned I used to believe in a fairy tale. But now I know better. I know that real love is so much better than a fairy tale version. Real love is sticky and raw and fun and hard and imperfect and beautiful. I am so thankful that Dave has stuck by me as I have had to unlearn my false idea of love. He has helped me know how rich and amazing it is to truly and authentically love someone – including loving myself that way. And it is my heart’s desire to continue this journey of love with Dave for many, many, many, many years to come.  

Growing up, I bought into the fairy tale of love. I bought into this idea that I’d meet this handsome man in the most serendipitous of ways, and we’d get married. I thought that I’d buy him a fancy watch for Valentine’s Day, and we might travel to the Caribbean a few times. And we’d have our 2.5 children. And that’d be life.

Looking back, I realize that’s not love; that’s the movies.

Love is when you’re at a party talking excitedly, and you catch your partner starring at you out the corner of your eye, with that knowing smirk on his face. Love is when you see someone sleeping, and you think – no matter how cliché it sounds – he really does look like an angel. Love is when you forget about how big your nose is or how saggy your butt is because, around that person, you always feel beautiful. Love is when you realize, for the first time, that someone is seeing you, the real you – WHO you are, not WHAT you are. And you finally get the difference. Love doesn't have a ton to do with Valentine’s Day. It doesn't have to do with expensive gifts or suburban homes or even 2.5 children. It’s not about Caribbean vacations or fancy cars or even all-dressed-up beauty. Love is a sweatpants thing. Love is a jeans thing. It’s a you-at-your-worst thing. Because love makes you realize that there is no worst. There is no best, either. There’s just you. There’s just a person who’s growing and changing and evolving. And, in the eyes of someone else, that’s beautiful. Love isn't heavy. It isn't dramatic. And it most definitely isn't something you need to gossip to all your friends about. Love is light. Love is playful. Love is so much fun that you forget it’s work. But it’s not supposed to be. Sure, there are struggles. Sure, there are down times. But they’re really just growth times. They’re really just points where you’re challenging each other to grow.

As a culture, we’re so in love with love that we try to make it something it’s not. We try to fake it. We try to manipulate it. We try to distort it. Maybe if we’re funny on the first date we’ll find love. Maybe if we wear that sexy dress, it will come. But the truth is – all anybody wants to see is you. With your flaws and imperfections and less-than-ideal features. Because that’s the only way that the person who really, really loves you can find in you. They've been searching for you their whole lives. You've just been hiding behind those cool sunglasses or fancy dress or nice watch. The best way to find love is to give it – not to others, but to yourself. Love yourself with all your heart. Take yourself out on dates and treat yourself the way you want to be treated. Know for a fact that you don’t need anyone else. That you’re complete as you are. That who you are is radiant and beautiful. But having a partner on this journey wouldn't be so bad. It’d be kind of fun. And when you love yourself that much, you can’t help but show the real you to the world. You can’t help but boast how freaking awesome you are. And people get to see what they've always been looking for.

I’m no expert. I never went to med school. I never studied sexual psychology. All I know is love. I know that when you catch your partner with some food on his face, you can’t help but crack a smile, that you've found something special. Something that says, “Hey, I’m freaking awesome, and I love myself, and I deserve you. I’m in love with you, and you deserve me too.” Everything else is just a fairy tale. Just someone else’s story.