Earlier this year I realized that I was believing a lie about suffering. Before Gabriel was born I would think about how we would have him and either lose him or have a likely short span of time of life with our baby, a highly special needs baby. And that would have been awesome and that was what we hoped for and what we prayed for. That didn’t happen. But in my mind, the way I would think about it was that we would lose him sooner or later and then we move on and grieve and our suffering would be over.
Lessons I’ve learned:
- Grieving is suffering.
- And that my view on having had our big suffering and not having to suffer anymore was wrong.
One day I was talking to Tommy about it, and he gave me a great picture of what I was doing. He said that we tend to treat suffering like an insurance policy. We get to a point that we think is “catastrophic” and we don’t have to suffer any more. Just like 2 years ago when Jack was born and in the NICU, and we got to the catastrophic level on our health insurance and didn’t have to pay any more. Just like this year when we met and exceeded our insurance deductible on January 8th and then before too long maxed out on what we were paying.
I was thinking of suffering in a similar fashion. I figured that our son dying for sure counted as catastrophic, so after that happened we would be suffering free. The rest of our life should be smooth sailing since we were getting our big-ticket event now.
But it doesn’t work that way. You could probably see right off the bat why that thinking was wrong. But the thing is that it took me awhile to figure out that I was way off base. It took some more suffering and me asking questions like “how can more happen to us?” and “when will life just be slow and normal?” for me to realize that’s not the deal. Apparently I was operating under the impression that life is mostly smooth and easy with a few bumps in the road and occasionally some of us have horrible things happen. We weren’t called to that and we were never promised that. In fact, there are a lot of places in the Bible that talk about suffering. There are many people who suffered greatly. Jesus himself suffered tremendously. So looking back on it now, I wonder why I thought I wouldn’t suffer.
After losing our second son, I thought I would have a summer to recover. A summer of some normalcy after the year of uncertainty and chaos we had dealt with. That was what I wanted. But what I got was a summer of deep grief and poor health. I struggled with what was going on with my body. I sought answers which didn’t come until very recently. My family and I walked through the deepest valleys of grief. My husband worked a lot. At a time where rest was desperately needed, he was stretched thin, pushed to the max, and spent a lot of time at work. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and on top of that learned that I will need surgery soon to remove my gallbladder. None of it made sense to me. I couldn’t understand why those things were happening after the hardest thing we’d ever been through.
And I still don’t understand it. But what I can say is that we got through the summer. Just like we got through January to May with Gabriel. Now it’s fall, which will bring its own set of struggles and challenges. But sometimes hope isn’t about feeling better or life getting easier. It’s not about expectations being met or life being fair. It isn’t about my ideas and mindsets. It isn’t about what would make the most sense to me and Tommy. Sometimes hope is just clinging on when you are certain you can’t anymore. Sometimes it is trusting that this season will pass. Maybe not quickly and maybe not without knocking you down really hard in the process. But having the hope that God is here always and he loves us beyond anything. We aren’t in it alone.
If you feel overwhelmed by the challenges, the suffering in your life, may you know that there is hope. It will not last forever. And you are not alone. He is love.