It Sucks and It’s Sanctifying

This was a journal entry written on July 5th, 2020.

Today, three weeks after returning home from our annual Team Tilmes retreat, I’m writing out our 2020-21 goals and intentions on notecards and hanging them up. In the past, I eagerly wrote and hung them right after coming home. But this year was different. Our annual trip ended quite terribly and made me want to do nothing but cover up those goals and intentions until right now.

We drove to Louisville on a Friday with the best kind of secret: we were pregnant. 12 weeks, with our formal ultrasound scheduled the following Wednesday. At 8 weeks, we went to the OB, heard a strong heartbeat, and were given a due date of January 3rd. The unknown was so exciting– would we have a boy or a girl? Would our baby come early before the new year or hold out until 2021? What would life be like as a family of three? I’ve really never felt so excited or in love or curious about a person I didn’t know at all.

Our time in Louisville was really good, though strange because of the COVID-related restaurant closures. But it didn’t bother us to get takeout and spend time together. During our goal-planning sessions, we dreamt up what life could look like come January. We crossed off “grow our family” from the list of intentions from the previous year, so excited that our time had finally come. We added “have a healthy pregnancy + birth” to this year’s list.

So yes, our time in Louisville was really good… until Saturday night. After dinner, I started to have mild cramps on the drive but didn’t think much of them. Through this pregnancy, I didn’t give in to fear and overthinking, so I assumed the feeling was just a normal sign of my uterus growing. But, when we got back to the Airbnb, I was spotting ever so slightly and decided to call my doctor. He was reassuring and kind, letting me know there could be a variety of reasons behind it and not all bad. He encouraged me to be aware of the more serious signs of a miscarriage, but in the meantime to relax and consider the best. So, that’s what I did. We relaxed and went to bed early that night, and I felt much better physically. The next morning we woke up and left the city shortly after just to play it safe and get back home.

Later that afternoon, when the more serious signs of miscarriage that my doctor warned about started to appear, we went to the ER closest to our house and I walked out hours later with an empty womb.

How could I consider revisiting the goals we dreamt up just the day before? Writing and hanging them would only open my heart up to even more hurt and shock. In those first couple of days, I wondered if I could ever stop crying. I wondered if I would ever be able to trust God in the same way again. I wondered if I’d get my joy back, feel peace again, or if my life was deemed hopeless from here on out. I felt those things because I had just experienced a traumatic loss and physical wound, and those feelings are normal.

But today, after three weeks of healing and finding out that joy and peace do come back (though every day is different because grief is very unpredictable), I felt a nudge from God to open up my journal and revisit our goals. Yes, there are some that don’t apply anymore, but there are others that do. And I believe that God wants to meet us in those with a reminder that he is mighty in me.

Don’t get me wrong– I am so sad. In some ways, I feel like we were duped by God with a cruel bait-and-switch after waiting so long to get pregnant and then reveling in the joy and confidence that comes with it for only twelve quick weeks. I have a long road of healing and new spiritual wounds to tend to that I wish could be mended simply and quickly. But I also know that this terrible season of suffering will only lead me closer to the heart of God. It will only help me know the person of Jesus better. It absolutely sucks, and it is absolutely sanctifying.

I’m hanging up our goals today, three weeks after I miscarried our baby because these goals written on notecards are tangible reminders that we have eternity to hope for, and a mission to do, and a purpose to work towards. They make our focus bigger than ourselves and our sadness.


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