04 January 2012

The Journey

I have never liked due dates. I always thought it was silly that we assigned one specific day for the baby to arrive. With each pregnancy I would work hard to forget the "day" and just think about the general time. But this time, when there is no longer a baby to expect, all I have left is her due date -today- January 4th.

It is hard to reflect on the last 5 months, filled with questions and grief with little comfort and no answers. A week after giving birth to Hope, we moved into our new house - and I hated it. The house that we had bought envisioning 4 kids filling the rooms. Everywhere I looked I saw the spaces I had visually marked out for the new baby. That corner where I might put the swing I finally had space for. The ridiculously huge master bedroom that would have been perfect for keeping my newborn close-by. The beautiful soaking tub I had looked forward to laboring in. I hated it all.

But as it does, life kept moving on. People stopped greeting me with a sympathetic look. School started, both for Justin and Annalia (and myself as we began homeschooling,) Justin was voted in unanimously as the pastor of our church. And we started using our house for all the entertaining and hosting opportunities that has also influenced our purchasing decision.
But as much as I tried, the grief just didn't seem to fade. And with the grief, lots of guilt. I mean, it isn't like mine is the worst story out there. Woman have suffered so much more, losing all their kids in one fatal accident, watching their only child suffer for months before dying, and on and on. Yet I was still so consumed.

And of course, the questions. Why did God give me a baby I didn't plan, only to take her away after I was finally excited? How do I pray in Faith again? And just what role does Faith play in the way God answers our prayers? Did I make a mistake - holding her, naming her? Maybe it would have been easier if I had never seen the person that I lost. The more I dwelt on the questions, the worse I felt.

Psalm 119:28-30 says, "I weep with grief; encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your law. I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your laws.

We chose the name Hope because it means relying on something that we may not be able to see, or aren't feeling at that moment. There have been many moments these past few months that I have really let God know how I am feeling - and it wasn't pretty. It was easy to lie to myself. To say that God didn't care about me, that He didn't have a plan, and was mistaken if He thought I was strong enough to handle the multiple blows that had hit our family this summer.
But I have learned I can't focus on these things. I have to set my eyes on Jesus. I have to focus on the things I know. The Truth. "Truth soothes our fears, changes our feelings, and shapes our thoughts. The truth is what we need when the hurt is the deepest." It has been a journey, and I am not sure I see the end anywhere in sight. But I guess that is what Faith is for. As for the doubts, fears, and the lies I believe while wallowing in my grief - I guess that is what Grace is for.

"He shot His arrows deep into my heart. The thought of my suffering and hopelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction."
Lamentations 3:13, 19-22


Jessica Smith said...

Karlene, thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. And thank you for sharing your family as well. You are so precious and I really appreciate everything that I've learned from you. We will be praying for you and your family as you start the next steps into your lives as pastors of New Hope. I really admire you as a woman, a mother, and a friend. I hope you know I always mean it when I offer to help you any time you might need something!

L. said...

Love. Hugs. For what it's worth, I find it inspiring that you still get up every day and live your life. I can't imagine. May God continue to comfort you!

Foley Family said...

Your transparency is very healing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpYEwbHPjrs
We are taking the long way Home.
I love you and your family!

elizabeth melanie said...

Oh Karlene, you have been given such a talent for sharing your heart in such an authentic and approachable way. Although I am so sorry that you have to go through such an experience, at the same time I am so thankful for your transparency as you struggle. I am learning so much from you and your walk with God. The example of your honesty with Him hit me like a ton of bricks.
I will be praying for you and Justin (and the kids) as you all go through this period of refreshed grief. I hope that God's mercy shines on you in a new way and that He shows you His love unexpectedly over the next few weeks.
I love you, Karlene. Thanks for posting.

Stephanie said...

Karlene, i am praying for you and your family today. I think it is so comforting to know that you can share your heart, your worries and struggles. Their are so many that are grieving over different losses and it is comforting to read and know, God is faithful and gives us grace even when we can't understand it.

Denise said...

Love and prayers, my sister.

erin lindsay said...

Hey Karlene, I am Justin's friend from college and saw that he posted your blog about Hope. I am sorry for your loss. I just wanted you to know that I am going through a tough time right now and really needed to hear the verses you shared. Thank you for letting God use you.