The Lingering Pain of Loss
Ministering in the midst of brokenness
I place a high value on authenticity and transparency in leadership. With that in mind, I’m going to lay some stuff out there that some in ministry circles might cringe at. I apologize in advance.
Church leaders are just like you. Let that sink in for a minute. Just. Like. You.
We have struggles and hurts and brokenness. When you see us on Sunday, we aren’t serving the church because we have it all together – we’re serving because we’ve submitted our broken and imperfect lives to something bigger than ourselves and the call on our lives is something that exists in spite of, in the midst of, and even through our imperfections.
“One of our friends needs to have a baby…”
I was sitting in a car on the way to lunch this week when one of my friends dropped a seemingly harmless thought into conversation. As I sunk deeply into my seat, he continued to talk and think out loud about how much fun it is to go through the holidays with pregnancy stories and how our circle of friends needs someone who will bring up the stories of helplessness that are associated with trying to care for a newborn.
It was just a few months ago when we were that family. Just before our nation’s birthday, we had news to share of another coming birthday – my wife and I found out that we were expecting another child. We were ready to welcome a new baby into the world. A baby that might might grow to love the color green or have a passion for cartwheels or desire to one day be an amazing stay-at-home mom like the one that she was going to grow up with. Then, on a Sunday morning, when I was getting ready to take a bunch of kids on a week-long adventure to summer camp, my wife came to me crying. She was bleeding and frightened and scared that she may have lost our baby – and I had to keep our Sunday programs running.
Life happens. Even on Sundays.
We came out of that scare with hope that the baby was fine. Our doctors and nurses seemed to think that the episode was just a hiccup in the pregnancy and that we’d still deliver just fine. And yet, a few months later, we received the news that we had prayed against – our baby was gone. We weren’t going to have a chance to meet her on this side of Heaven.
We were crushed.
“If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”
We were sitting in our living room a few days ago when my son began pondering this question. He decided that he’d ask if he was going to get to see Baby Tiny in Heaven.
Months have passed and yet time is moving slowly for my family. Carter still draws pictures of the baby he’ll never meet. Christine stands in the kitchen and stares off into the distance and holds her now empty tummy. Kate continues to grow and continues to dance in slow motion. And then there’s me. I keep standing in front of crowds of people on Sunday mornings and at conferences to tell them that parenting is hard and marriage is hard – so we shouldn’t do them alone… we need to be part of a family that’s bigger than the walls of our home and a church that’s bigger than the walls of the sanctuary. I get to tell kids that God is with them in hard times and that he writes a better story than we could ever imagine.
Yet, for the last few weeks, I’ve avoided checking in on our nursery team on Sundays. I can’t even walk into the room. I’m broken.
The funny thing about loss is that it lingers. Knee surgeries give you a limp – people can see the scars and have visual reminders of your story. Losing a baby is different – there’s now a nothingness that sits at the dinner table with us, is in the corner of our family pictures and continues to draw hits to a video we posted on youtube to announce the news of our pregnancy.
If I didn’t tell our story, we’d be the only ones who knew that nothingness even existed. And, here’s the thing, we’re not alone in dealing with our loss. Because we’ve been transparent and we’ve told our story, we have a community that understands.
And so, on days like today, our story continues moving forward. We eat goldfish crackers, build LEGO creations, shop for eyeliner and fill the refrigerator with new groceries. Life, at times, is hard – that’s why we don’t do it alone.
Thanks for being a part of our story.
for other posts related to our journey though miscarriage, check out