Three days ago we labored, gave birth, and said goodbye to our tiny daughter Lucy Pearl.
I thought about waiting to write. Waiting until I’ve managed to wrap this up in a neat little package in my mind. Waiting until I can speak in past tense of trusting God in the midst of the pain and sorrow and confusion. Waiting until my physical strength is back.
Right now I feel like a weak mess. Right now, trusting God is a mental choice, not a feeling I can lean into.
Lucy isn’t the first baby we’ve lost. She’s the fifth, in a row. Three of them were so tiny we never even got to name them. But Lucy and her brother Luke were beautifully formed, with tiny fingers and toes and fingernails.
We were past the risk of early miscarriage. We were past the hardest part of pregnancy, in which we tried to be thankful for the horrible nausea and fatigue and the toll it took on the family because that meant the pregnancy was strong.
So many people were praying for Lucy. So many people were praying that my body would be a healthy and safe place for her to grow.
And then there were the trees.
We moved to a new home this past summer and there are four stately aspens planted in a row by the barn, tall and beautiful. I felt like they were a gift – a memorial for the four babies we’d lost. And I hoped, and prayed, that they might be the only ones.
It’s hard to even write that. I knew the trees weren’t a promise. I said as much to friends. But they brought me hope and comfort. I hoped they were a promise. I hoped they meant we’d get to meet and grow up with our baby.
A good friend looked me in the eye after we got home from the hospital this week and asked point blank: “How are you feeling about the trees?” And I told her, honestly, that I was struggling with being disappointed with God. Why did my Dad let me hope? Why were there four trees there? Why didn’t he choose to let us keep Lucy?
And my friend said simply, “Ask him. Talk to him about it. Cry all over him. He can handle it.”
So that’s what I’m doing.
I’m deciding (sometimes many times a day) to trust him. To believe what I know is true: That he’s a good God. That none of this surprised him. That there truly will be a day when this suffering and sorrow will pale next to the explosive joy we’ll feel when our family is reunited forever. That somehow the loss here will make sense there. Or that it just won’t matter.
The first time we walked through this, when we lost our son Luke, we felt wrapped in God’s comfort like a warm blanket. This time it hasn’t felt as obvious.
So I get to choose: Will I believe that God is the same today, yesterday and forever? Will I trust that he loves me as much now as he has proven in the past? Will I say, like Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him”?
Oh man. That’s a scary, scary thing to write. In practice, I’d much rather be a fragile daughter than a daughter who can face lions. I’m so glad it’s not up to me.
For today, for this moment, I feel glad to be able to say, “I choose to trust you, God.” And I feel thankful that he isn’t just the object of my faith, but also its source. As long as he gives me enough for this moment, it will be enough for the days, weeks and years to come.
This spring, we’ll plant another tree. And we will thank God for the five children who will someday be there to welcome us into eternity with him.