Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Struggle is Part of the Story

This summer I have been going through a Bible study with some friends from church. We are doing Angie Smith's "Seamless" study. I have enjoyed following Angie on her blog for several years now, so when I heard about this study I knew it was one I wanted to do. I just had no idea at the time what this study would mean to me and how it would come at a time in my life when I needed it the most.

In the first week of the study Angie asks the question "What experiences in your life have caused you to struggle with believing that [God] is good and that He loves you?" She asked us to write them down and seal them up - it was just supposed to be between us and God. I struggled with this question, not for obvious reasons, but because I couldn't think of anything specific. Nothing of significance anyway. I remember telling Andrew that I didn't have anything to write and how I struggled with it. How did I deserve to have had an absence of struggle when I have witnessed so much pain in the lives of those around me? I remember feeling guilty and a part of me longing to know God in a way that I had only heard others talk about - how you grow closer to God and how real he becomes in the midst of trials.

At the same time, about a week earlier, I had just found out I was pregnant. June 1, 2015 was one of the most exciting days of my life. There wasn't just one line, but two. Two pink lines told me that I was going to be a mother. I was overwhelmed with emotion, but I praised God for the life growing inside me, and instantly became wrapped around the idea of being a mother. In that moment I visualized the rest of my life and what it would look like. Excitement is an understatement. It pretty much consumed my every waking moment and thought for the next few weeks. We wanted to tell my parents in person so that meant waiting a couple of weeks. It felt like forever. That kind of excitement feels heavy, begs to be shared, needs to be divided among people so that it's easier to manage. 

Soon after we told our parents our news, we went for our first doctor appointment and saw the beat of a tiny heart on the ultrasound screen. Everything else melted away except for the image on that screen. Later I could not remember anything the doctor said or that there was even a nurse in the room. That moment changed my life. With every beat of our baby's heart, my heart was being shaped and molded, preparing to love in ways I was only beginning to understand. And I had no idea how that tiny heart would continue to change me in the coming weeks.

I have a feeling I will always think of my life as Before and After. I think tragedy just grips you and changes you in a way that you are never the same. But as I write this it was only two weeks ago that I heard those awful words "I can't find the heartbeat" and I know we have a long way to go on this road. I also know that at that very moment, in the examining room, I was faced with everything I have always believed to be true about God. And I had a choice to make in that moment. Either he was good and he loved me, or not. Simple as that. I realize that I could have gone either way. There's no way to know how you will respond in that moment. But despite my flesh, which was screaming to be heard with shouts of self-pity, doubt, and fear - I chose to believe in what I know of God's character over my circumstances. I chose to believe that He is ultimately good, even when I don't understand. I don't claim to have any answers, I know I never will understand in this lifetime. But as I have known my whole life, but am just beginning to learn, that truly trusting God isn't about having answers or knowing "why".. Rather, it's believing Him when we don't have answers and nothing makes sense. It's knowing that He has never left our side, that He is closer to us in our pain than at any other time in our life, probably because that's when we lean on him the most. It's feeling absolutely torn apart but knowing that somehow he is holding you together. And that the broken places of your heart are allowing Him to enter in.

Just yesterday I flipped back to the beginning of our bible study book. We are several weeks into the study now and each week there have been new lessons to learn and we have grown in so many ways, in our faith but also closer to each other. I will always be grateful for these sweet friends God has placed in my life. I know He placed them there because when I moved here a few years ago, that is what I prayed for. That's another post for another day, but what I am learning is that God always provides. Maybe not on our timeline, not in a way that makes any sense to us, but in His perfect time. So I went back to the very question that I stumbled over a few weeks back. I felt I had something to write this time, so I wrote it down, sealed it up. Gave it to God. It's too heavy for me to carry on my own. I know that we all struggle in different ways and what may not seem difficult to one person is for another like fighting a tide in the middle of a hurricane. And different seasons of our lives bring different kinds of struggles. I know that if I would have been completely honest with myself before, I would have remembered times when I struggled to believe that God had not forgotten me. And I could have written them down. But instead, I compared my struggles to others' and considered mine insignificant.  (In the future, this is probably not the best idea - the comparison trap is never healthy in whatever form it takes). But the truth is, the times of my life that I neglected to write down, those times that seemed insignificant, those were the times God had been using to prepare me and teach me to trust him. In many ways throughout my life, God has proven himself faithful. That is why when sitting in the doctor's office, hearing those awful words, despite the doubts of my flesh, I was able to choose to believe Him. That is why, when later that night I lay face down on the bathroom floor, crying out to him in my hurt and brokenness, I was able to find peace and rest. That is why, when every morning I wake up, when I am tempted to feel despair, I can choose to have hope.

At first, I struggled with the idea of writing about this, or at least sharing it. I am the most vulnerable I have ever been and for me, writing is the most raw expression of my heart. But writing is also healing and I am sure that the prompting I have felt is the Holy Spirit encouraging me that this is my story to tell. And when I was still hesitant about it, He spoke to me through a book I am currently reading. In her book, Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist writes:
"This is what I want you to do: tell your story. Don't allow the story of God, the sacred, transforming story of what God does in a human heart to become flat and lifeless. If we choose silence, if we allow the gospel to be told only on Sundays, only in sanctuaries, only by approved and educated professionals, that life-changing story will lose its ability to change lives."
I pray that God uses this part of my story for His glory, that my pain is not in vain and that He works it all together for His ultimate good. I was also hesitant to write because my story doesn't have a "happy ending". I tried to reason that this would be a much better story to tell later on, maybe after I had a healthy baby so I could share pictures and tell you that God redeemed my hurt and answered my prayer. But I write in faith that the best is still to come. I'm not sure what that may be, not sure I even believe in "happy endings", but I do trust in God's plan and in his character. I trust that someday my story will come full circle, even if I'm not sure exactly what that looks like. I also know that if I didn't share this part of the story - if I only told the happy and neglected to tell of the hurt, of the struggle, then it wouldn't be complete. To borrow from Shauna again, "when we tell the truth about our lives - the broken parts, the secret parts, the beautiful parts - then the Gospel comes to life, an actual story about redemption.." I wish the struggle wasn't part of the story, oh how I wish I didn't have to write about the struggle. But without the broken parts, the beautiful parts wouldn't be as beautiful. And that is what I am clinging to. I know that God makes everything beautiful in time.

Recently, I came across a translation of a verse in Isaiah (chapter 66, verse 9) that I have never seen before.

This is a very simplified translation of this verse, but it spoke to me. Since I am not a Bible scholar, I read several commentaries on what this means. The idea is that Isaiah was referencing the Church. And that since God had, from the beginning of time, planned its increase, he would not abandon it. It's as if God was saying "would I begin something and not finish it?" In the context, the Israelites had suffered through exile, been cut off from their land and from their God. Then, when some were allowed to return in anticipation of the great blessings they had been promised, they found only further suffering. The writer assures the people the promised rebirth of Jerusalem was imminent. God had promised, and he was faithful to fulfill that promise, even though it was hard for them to see in the midst of their suffering. This is where I find hope. In this life, in this broken world, there will always be suffering, in whatever form that takes in your life or mine. But the same promise that was true then is true now - our Rescue is coming.

As I said before, I'm not sure what the end of my story looks like. I would love to take this verse literally and see it as a promise from God that he will allow me to have another child. That the "something new to be born" would be a baby in my arms. But until then, I simply trust and know that He is good.


  1. I love you, Laura! You are a blessing.

  2. Laura, my name is Leslie Morgan. You don't know me but a friend from Monroe shared your post with me. I also had a miscarriage just 16 days ago. I found out I was pregnant the same day you did. It has been the hardest season of my life. I loved this post so much. I wrote my own post sharing my feelings on our blog. Thematthewmorganfamily.blogspot.com; I would love to talk with you more. My email is

    1. Hi Leslie! I sent you an email sometime last week I think, but just wanted you to know in case it came up as spam :) Thanks so much for reaching out to me, for sharing your story as well.. I have enjoyed reading your blog~

    2. So sorry for the delay! I emailed you back yesterday. Hopefully you got it! :-)