Wet and dry. Hot and cold. Happy and sad. Joy and sorrow. Opposites. For the most part, opposites can not coincide. You’re either wet or dry, hot or cold, happy or sad. So why can joy and sorrow meet and dance in my heart at the same time?
I’m not sure I’ll ever quite understand this, nor will I ever be able to adequately describe my heart and head when joy and sorrow meet.
Most days are joyful. Most of the time I can choose joy rather easily. I do have a lot to be thankful for. I have a million reasons to praise my God and Father. However, there are days when a fresh wave of grief overtakes this joy…at least, it really tries to do so.
Being at language school has been great. I’m enjoying the classes and learning process much more than I expected. Plus, I’m actually succeeding in learning! (Let’s be honest, success is always helpful in making me enjoy something.) I have been cooking and cleaning every day so I feel a little more like myself. I’m able to exercise. Our little community is wonderful, and the environment is absolutely beautiful. Overall, it’s been a pleasant summer.
About 4 weeks ago, though, another wave of grief hit me. While Aaron and the boys enjoyed a sleepover in the living room by the fire, I sat in bed alone, missing Hannah so badly and sobbing. I guess their boy time tends to trigger my grief. Usually, at this point in the grieving journey, I’m able to process these kind of waves in about 3 days. I can write in Hannah’s journal, cry really hard for a while and throw a pity party for the next day or so. Then, I’m back to joy, joy, joy! It’s different here though.
Here, at this beautiful place full of wonderful people, I just can’t get through this wave. Like I said, it’s been weeks, not days. I’ve written in Hannah’s journal. I’ve sobbed on several different occasions. I’ve allowed myself time for self-pity, but I know I can’t stay here. I’ve prayed and asked for prayer. I’ve yelled at God. I’ve read Scriptures and devotionals and other books that usually help me gain a right perspective. I even wrote the post about the humorous side of pregnancy in effort to remind myself of the joy I’m able to find in every day life!
And honestly, this wave is different. It isn’t constant. In the past month, I’ve had mostly good days. It’s just that I have at least one bad day a week. That hasn’t been typical in the past 6 months. I guess I could blame it on the hormones, but I don’t think that’s the root of the issue.
The root is that I’m unhappy with God’s answers lately. I hated it when He said ‘no’ to healing Hannah. Now, he’s told us ‘no’ to having another girl. Those ‘no’ answers aren’t just ‘NO!’ For Hannah, the answer was more like the Father saying, “I’m not going to heal her (temporarily) on earth. No, I’m going to do much more. I’m going to make her perfect, complete and whole!” And with this pregnancy, God’s answer is probably a ‘not yet,’ but it doesn’t make it easier. I want a girl now. Actually, I don’t. I want Hannah back. I’m fighting this desire to hold onto her, to resist moving on with God’s plan for us. Having a fifth child wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, we wouldn’t be having this child unless we really believed it was in God’s will for our family.
Aaron and I have been called to have a large family. God hasn’t told us exactly how many kids will end up in our family. We don’t need to know the specifics. We just know how to take it one child at a time and to keep our ears open to God’s voice. When He says to have another baby, we obey. It’s simple, but it’s not always easy. This has been the hardest baby-conceiving decision, but we knew we heard God’s voice. There are risks to having a baby here in Kenya. But more than that, having another baby is a HUGE step OUT of the valley. I know I need to make this leap of faith. I want to want to trust God in this. I’m just having a time of temptation and questioning. While I know God’s plan is best and perfect, I just don’t understand. And frankly, I don’t like this next step.
It’s hard. Most of the time, my mind is on nursery planning, making sure I have everything Joshua will need, keeping my body healthy, and anticipating the lovely feeling of holding a newborn again. But then there are those days when I don’t want any of that. I’d be perfectly happy to sacrifice all of it in order to have Hannah back in our lives. In fact, I’ve even confessed to God that I’d like to have Hannah over 10 more daughters. It’s not logical, I know. It’s just that I know Hannah. There’s still a void from her absence. Future children will be awesome, but I don’t know them yet. I don’t even know Joshua yet. It’s easier to sacrifice something you never really had.
I guess it’s too late now, huh? My heart is so full of sorrow over the absence of Hannah. And yet, it’s overflowing with joy over this crazy-active boy growing in my womb. The joy and sorrow take turns leading the dance. Fortunately, the joy tends to win when the two opposing emotions fight for dominance. Sorrow does take a turn every now and then. Lately, it’s been a little more frequently than I like, but it’s part of the process.
As I continue to walk out of the valley, I’ll keep choosing joy. I’ll continue to trust and obey my God, because where else can I go? He is the omnipotent, holy, perfect God. No matter how much I don’t like something, I need to remember that I don’t see the big picture. He does. I don’t know what’s best for me, or my family. He does. I can’t see the end from the beginning. He can. He is able to restore and provide and bless unlike any other person or god. I trust that He will fulfill all of the promises He has made to us. In HIS timing, not mine. In HIS perfect way, not mine.
The Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to me though Pastor Petero during devotions on Monday. He spoke on Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”
And that sums it up. It’s not about me. Or Hannah. I need to resist the temptation to make her an idol, to make happiness an idol, to make myself an idol. If it’s not in God’s will, then I don’t want it. Lord, may your perfect will be done!
Thank you for praying me through this pregnancy. I covet your prayers so much. Thank you for following our journey. It’s messy and unpredictable. It’s real and raw. Thank you for always uplifting us in prayer.
Praises and Prayer Requests:
- Praise God, for He loves us unconditionally. I’m so thankful that I can vent to Him, and He’ll still love me.
- Praise God for His provision. I stand amazed at the ways He is providing for our every need here on the mission field.
- Praise God for His loyalty and trustworthiness.
- Praise God for children. They (even boys) are a blessing!
- I praise God for you! May God bless you for all the time and energy you spend praying for me, my mission, and my family.
“Where Joy And Sorrow Meet”
There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadows reach
Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet
Mending grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet
There is a place where hope remains
In crowns of thorns and crimson stains
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet
Where joy and sorrow meet
There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief
For the wounded there is healing, strength is given to the weak
Broken hearts find love redeeming where joy and sorrow meet
There’s a place of thirst and hunger where the roots of faith grow deep
And there is rain and rolling thunder when the road is rough and steep
There is hope in desperation there is victory in defeat
At the cross of restoration where joy and sorrow meet