“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
The context of this verse is set just before the Passover. Yeshua is telling His disciples that He does not shrink back from the hour that is upon Him, for the Father’s Name is going to be glorified through Him. He explains to the men that anyone loving his life will lose it but those who give up their lives will end up gaining them. It has been my scriptural focus during this pregnancy. What does it mean to go into the ground and die so that fruit might be produced?
It is more than coincidental that a baby who comes after a loss is affectionately termed a “rainbow” baby. The word rainbow conjures up such incredible images of promise and redemption, a sure sign (to me, at least) that there will be comfort and that the time for sorrow is past. After the loss of Joshua, when my body and heart were recovering, I eagerly anticipated the time when my rainbow baby would arrive on the scene. Little did I know that my journey of grief was not ending, but only coming to fullness from the moment I got a positive pregnancy test in December.
I think we often fool ourselves into believing God has promised us something when He hasn’t. Sometimes we can go for years walking in a “truth” that actually has nothing to do with anything He has spoken. But we are convinced and so nothing can change our minds. I had a lot of ideas about what God could or should be doing in the pregnancy that would come after Joshua. At first, I didn’t even know if a baby would come; if God would even allow it. But His mercy is great and He extended a hand of life to my womb yet again. I had it in my mind that I would have a son after Joshua, and that he would be the final red bow for our family. Originally, Joshua was to be our red bow. I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant with him that he was a boy. It felt so right and it was an answer to prayers for a brother for Noah. After experiencing the loss, I couldn’t get my heart out of the place of still desiring the completion that would be brought by a son being added to our family. It has never felt “right” or “complete” for Joshua to be gone. In my own human way of dealing with the situation, I believe I was able to set aside a good portion of my grief through the subsequent realization that indeed it was possible (and even likely!) for God to give us another son. Notice that I said “set aside” not “come to terms with, find closure, or grieve with acceptance.” No, another little boy wouldn’t exactly be able to take the place of Joshua, but he would still be the answer our prayers and a nice completion to our children, not to mention the fact that I simply wanted another boy. Every child we’ve had is so different and experiencing all the flavors of personality has been the most wonderful journey for me. Desiring another boy and seeing how different he would be from Noah was all part of it. And in my heart of hearts, I began to believe that he actually would take away the pain and bring about the restoration that I’ve so desired these many months. Surely, God could make up for the fact that one was lost by granting another one, right? He can fix this “mistake” by doing what He does best and restoring what the locusts have taken, right?
What I didn’t expect to be learning (again!) is that God cares less about what I want and more about what is good for me. And when I have no idea what that is but He does, it means there will be a struggle to get to the place of His sovereign will. Big struggle, little struggle, painful, pleasant, easy, difficult – all dependent on how strong my will is for this round. I wish I could naturally accept what He gives but this time it was like I insisted on months of vain imaginations, trying to divine what He might be saying through circumstances when I could have simply asked him. I chose not to ask because asking would mean He might tell me. And telling me means I might not like it or understand it and have to deal with how different my desires are from His. Not pleasant at all. So I comfortably remained in my ignorance for several months. But of course He will only let me get away with that way of thinking for so long before He has something to say about it. He decided to make a big statement on our gender-reveal ultrasound day.
The funny thing is that I knew in the back of my heart all along that this baby was going to be a girl. A part of me seriously suspected perhaps it could be twins causing that terrible morning sickness, but even with all the other symptoms, the only thing that really felt sure was a girl. But my hopes ran away with me. I wanted it to be a boy because I wanted to somehow replace Joshua. I wanted to move on from him because looking at him straight on is too painful even this far away from his loss. My personality can’t stand things that are undone, and his life being cut short is the very definition of undone. Like that feeling I get with a sink full of dirty dishes, a dirty house, and ten loads of laundry waiting to be washed only multiplied exponentially as a matter of the heart and never done no matter how busy I make myself. It just is. A gaping, bloody hole. It can’t BE fixed. Even with TWIN boys! Part of getting pregnant again (with a boy, I thought) was to defy the natural course that seemed to demand I sit and look at this pile of “undone” and not be able to accomplish or do enough to ever change it. I can’t look away from it. And if I can’t look away from it then my heart must begin the process of healing and acceptance. I cannot live in denial anymore. That question of “how can this just be it???” must be asked until at the very least, I know in my depths that there isn’t really a good answer on this side of eternity but God is still upon His throne. Only then will my heart find peace.
Doing pregnancy is a pretty straightforward process for me. It allows me to control something, once God has actually placed life within me, that is. It allows me to do busy projects instead of be and let God knit together. I am saddened by the fact that I still took this long to come to a place where I can actually admit to myself that I left some things unfinished beside the road back there a ways. I thought I healed more than I actually have. All this based on a hope for something I thought I needed rather than an assured promise of something that God knows I need. The thing is, Yahweh does promise to heal and to turn all things for our benefit when we walk in Him and His ways. He never promised me I could have another son so that I could be distracted and go on ignoring the state of my heart related to the loss of one. He never said a boy was going to magically make everything right and suddenly it would be as if death never touched our family at all. He never told me it would be alright to go looking for Joshua’s pale, lifeless features in the living face of a new baby boy as if to somehow resurrect him and tell myself that he isn’t really gone. I have to look to the Lord Yeshua and admit that I got it wrong on this one. I have been missing His purpose in this entire process. I don’t understand all His ways with my heart, and though I seek to understand and accept what He is trying to do, I have yet again failed to let go of the control that is the only thing He has wanted this whole time. May He work the work of surrendering anew in me.
These ponderings might sound scandalous when the beautiful reality of my life is that I am having a healthy baby – and that I can bear life at all! I am extremely grateful to be called into motherhood again. And I can’t wait to have another bright-eyed princess added to our number. One can never have too many pink sparkles, little girl hugs, frilly dresses, and black patent shoes. In fact, even though I am often rolling my eyes, I love the drama my girls bring to our family. We have so much spicy flavor and each day brings new adventures with my little women and one man. This experience is not about having a boy versus having a girl. This is simply about unmet expectations – me trying to write the script and tell God what would sound really great when He is busy working on a truly astounding second act. I am realizing anew that God chooses the ways in which He will bring redemption whether that be through no more children, a boy, a girl, or adoption. At the end of the day, all I can say is that I am so deeply grateful that He chooses to continue on weaving the tapestry of my life in the careful, brooding way He does with all His children without allowing my simplistic understanding to change His plans. Thank You for not listening to me, Abba!
I don’t get to set the terms for my own heart to experience the fullness of healing. That is up to the Lord. The closer I walk with Him, I hope that I will more and more quickly be able to give up my own expectations in exchange for His. I believe that is the only way I can truly see the fruit that comes from the ground when a little grain of wheat dies. Fruit will not appear without death and suffering, or without the God-written redemption that follows.