Guest post by: Sarah Moulson
“When you’re pregnant, you’re so full. And then, suddenly, you’re so...” Here she paused, trying to choke out the word, “…empty.”
As I sat listening to my precious sister-in-law sob out her pain, my own tears fell freely, having felt that same heartbreak a year prior. Pregnancy is a uniquely beautiful time of fullness, brimming over with excitement, anticipation, joy, and life. But when a pregnancy is cut short, it can leave one feeling gutted and raw.
We lost our second child to miscarriage. After struggling to conceive for two years, God had gifted us our beautiful daughter, Iris, sixteen months prior. When I discovered that I was pregnant the second time around, it was a complete surprise. I thought, “So this is how it happens for ‘normal’ people. No fertility drugs. No doctors. No meticulously marked calendars or precisely timed sex. You just wake up one morning to the happy discovery that you’ve made a baby.” For two-and-a-half-weeks, my husband and I delighted in this blissful surprise. And then one Saturday morning, I walked out of the bathroom and shattered our joy.
“Steve, I’m bleeding.”
The next two days were a blur of phone calls, tears, pain, and pleading prayers. Eventually we were forced to accept that I had lost the baby. As that reality set in, a dark cloud of grief encompassed our home. At times Steve and I cried together, and at times we cried alone.
One night I couldn’t sleep so I crept downstairs and sat on the couch. I didn’t turn on any lights. I just sat in the quiet and the darkness and cried like I’ve never cried before. As I wept, a strange thought came to me. I had heard stories of people who self-harmed through cutting, burning, scratching, or other equally painful actions. I had never been able to understand what would drive a person to do something like that. The causes are complex, but one reason suddenly became clear to me – the desire to express a deep internal pain in an external way. I wasn’t going to harm myself, but I pondered how it could be that I was experiencing the deepest emotional pain I had ever felt, and yet I had nothing to show for it. Unlike other tragedies that can befall a person, miscarriage doesn’t leave behind any external markers. I had no cast or stitches or bandages. There would be no discolored or gnarled scars. In fact, if I didn’t tell people what had happened, they would have no way of knowing simply by looking at me. I longed to sit on our front stoop in sackcloth and ashes, screaming to the world, “I’m in pain here!”
Genesis 3 tells of the punishment that God placed upon Eve, and all women through her, because of her disobedience. “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” When reading that verse, it’s natural to instantly think of the physical pain of childbirth, but I believe that the pain of motherhood is so much larger than that momentary discomfort. Infertility. Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Birth defects. Chronic or terminal illnesses. Death of a child. Failed adoptions. Regretted abortions. Post-partum depression. Divorce. Abuse. Suicide. Unrepentant children. War. Famine. Persecution. There are so many ways that women feel pain in connection to their children, and most of them leave no external wounds. Whether they are the results of one’s own sin, the sins of others, or simply the general fallen-ness that permeates all of creation, they cause us all to collectively cry out, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be!”
And that is one of the most profound truths of this life. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. When God created this world it was full of glory and light and life. But when sin entered, every facet of our existence was tainted by pain and darkness and death. Whatever sharp edge of this broken world has left you feeling pierced through, whatever invisible scars you carry within you, know this – there is One who emptied Himself of His glory, who walked perfectly among us in this painful, heartbreaking world, who willingly poured Himself out to the point of death, and who lives now so that you can one day experience life as it was supposed to be. For eternity. Your current pain is not the end of the story. The story ends in a place where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) At this moment you may parched and empty but cling to the truth that“from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)
My tears subsided that night in my darkened living room as the Holy Spirit spoke truth and comfort to my heart. Where I feel emptiness, Christ gives me His fullness. Where I feel pain and sorrow, Christ applies the soothing balm of His grace and love. The journey of moving on after the miscarriage was not neat and tidy, but after that night, whenever the waves of grief threatened to knock me down, I knew without a doubt that my suffering wasn’t invisible. There is One who sees each of my tears even if no one else does. And not only does He see, He understands, having shed tears of His own. And not only does He understand, He is powerful enough to conquer it all and make it right.