How can I be thankful for anything when we just lost our baby? What can I possibly be thankful for?
A few weeks before Lent began I had decided to focus on a thankful heart during this season. Each day I would write down three new things I am thankful for. No repeating things from previous days. I did this practice last year and it had such a positive impact on me I wanted to experience it again. Little did I know my faith was about to be tested in a way I couldn’t have imagined.
Baby Faith was delivered without a heartbeat on Ash Wednesday. Still in the hospital, I decided I would go ahead with deliberate thankfulness this Lenten season. I knew that God could use this discipline to draw me closer to Him at a time when I could easily wander off. My first day of thankfulness included:
- Life and resurrection
- Family and friends, with me, praying, supporting
- All my amazing girls – God’s gift to me.
It has been a month since we delivered baby Faith. As I look back over my list of things I’m thankful for, we are richly blessed. Some days have been more challenging to think of things I’m thankful for. Those days help me remember the things I might otherwise overlook: cleansing tears, snuggles, rest, laughter, sunshine.
I’m thankful for writing as an outlet, music for expression of the soul. I’m thankful for healing herbs and vitamins. I’m thankful for plans for the future, for progress on projects. I’m thankful for country drives. I’m thankful for babywearing to lull my little one to sleep, and through which I gained many of my mom friends. I’m thankful for collective worship. I’m thankful for unconditional love.
I’m thankful for a ‘job’ that gets me outside every day. That requires me to get out of bed everyday and follow some sort of routine. A job that includes two amazing little girls who are bundles of energy, excitement, and belly laughs. That requires me to regain the strength of my body. That sees the circle of life through plants and animals on a regular basis, helping me keep things in perspective.
One thing that surprised me is my thankfulness for God’s providence, even through loss. I have no doubt that He prepared my heart for our loss. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” He knew that I wasn’t strong enough, so He provided opportunities to remind me of the frailty of life throughout my pregnancy. We had a bad breeding season with the rabbits, so I explained to Little Monster how sometimes we think there are going to be babies and they don’t come. Sometimes they die after they are born. When we thought a cow was going to give birth in our yard, I warned Little Monster that we don’t always get the outcome we expect (she ended up not being pregnant at all but suffered from chronic bloat). God provided me with an anterior placenta, protecting me from bonding deeply through kicks. Hubby and I agreed that we would stop after three babies, but God was whispering to me that this was not my last pregnancy. When Hubby was willing to make permanent changes, I said that was fine, but not until after this baby was born and everyone was healthy. I continually said that this was ‘probably’ my last pregnancy. I just couldn’t accept that this was it.
God provided a way out for us too. The recurring theme on my list of thankfulness: family, friends, community. I’m thankful for our amazing family. Those who dropped everything to be with us when it mattered. I’m thankful for my moms. I am so blessed with a mom who is my Mommy, friend, and pastor. When I married the Hubby I became the luckiest girl ever because I truly gained an extra mom and two amazing sisters.
I didn’t realize what an amazing community of love and support surrounds our family. We have not been alone in our journey of grief, our journey of Faith. And so, for everyone who sent cards, messages and emails, who called to check on us (whether we answered or not), who came to visit, who helped keep the house and farm running, who played outside with my kids when I couldn’t keep up, who provided meals for our family, who brought necessities, who acted as a sounding board, who gave hugs with no words, who sent gifts in memory of our baby Faith, who helped us find the words when we didn’t have any, who helped us laugh, who let us cry ugly tears, who shared the gift of new life, who welcomed me into the sisterhood of those who mourn, who acknowledged our loss, who called Faith Elisabeth by name, who prayed…. To you I say thank you. Each and every act of kindness made a difference and has helped us along our journey. There is no way for me to express the depth of my gratitude. I wish I could write a thank you card to everyone (I actually enjoy writing cards), but it might take me a year. But I want you to know that your kind deed has not gone unnoticed. So thank you. With all of my heart, thank you, my friends, my family, my community.
We have so much to be thankful for in this life. Can you peek through your darkness to find a thankful heart?