Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Will Carry You

Daniel approached me a few weeks ago about going to get a special devotional to help us specifically cope with the loss of our baby.  We usually work through devotionals together, doing them on our own throughout the week and spending time in the evenings taking about what we've been learning.  Most Christians can probably call to mind verses that deal with the Lord's healing power, but we wanted something more than that-we wanted to be soaked in God's Word as it pertained to our pain.  We went to a local Christian bookstore and settled on Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg.  It's so hard to work through, but it is giving us tangible means to grieve and I have faith that the Lord will use it to produce fruit.
While we were there, in the section I thought I'd never have to browse, I found a book called I Will Carry You by Angie Smith.  I'm not an avid reader.  I don't read slowly, nor do I find difficulty with comprehension.  I would just much rather be actively doing something, crossing off an item on my ever-growing to-do list.  I'm not seasoned on how to pick "a good one", so I do what the world tells us not to-I choose books by their covers.  This one was appealing to me because it had a picture of a baby being held in her momma's hands on the front.  It was taupe, which seems to always catch my eye, being a lover of neutrals.  It wasn't published in a microscopic font type and was only 215 pages.  It was non-fiction, with a few pictures peppered inside.  I'm a stalker extraordinaire, so this book screamed my name. 
Oh, but I am cheap.  I have the same mindset about movies-why spend money purchasing a movie that you will only watch twice a year when you can rent it?  Why buy a book I will read once, when I can rent it?
Aha. To the library I went... and conquered.
Book in hand, I read all 215 pages, front to back, in about 4 hours. 
While it grieves me to know women have lost children, it relieves me to know this:  my pain is real.  It's okay to feel this way.  I didn't lose "it".  "It" wasn't taken away because, well, God must have known it would have been a useless child anyway, as if something were wrong with "it".  "It" wasn't a beta number or pink line. 
My child, my sweet baby, was knit by my Maker in the womb (Eh, tube?).
My Maker wasn't surprised by the life of my child, or the pain of my heart.
My Maker is the same Redeemer that rose from the grave, saved me 7 years ago, and walks with me now.

Grief is a funny thing to try to understand.  No two people grieve the same.  I feel as though the world tries to rank pain, as if it were important to tell people that their pain isn't nearly as deep as the next person's.  Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith, who sings for the Christian band Selah.  She and her husband miscarried their first, had a rough pregnancy with their twins, had another, and then became pregnant with a child that was found to be"incompatible with life" at 18 weeks gestation, having not formed several organs and without functioning kidneys.  They were advised to terminate their pregnancy, but chose to carry their daughter and allow God to glorify himself through their pain and even perform miracles.  I wish I could say that this sweet baby was healed, but she wasn't in this life.  Throughout the book, they talk about their grieving process, the questions we ask God in these situations, and the way we praise him and scream out to him to be revealed.  They talk about what it was like to have to bury their child, to live life without a baby that occupied so many of their dreams.
As I read this book, I kept thinking, "These parents have gone through so much pain. This is real pain. Why am I grieving? I didn't have to see my child's lifeless face. I didn't have to bury him. I didn't have to carry him". But, as I kept reading, I heard a steady voice: I carry your pain. You've burried your dreams. You carried him. I've seen your child's face, and he is alive, because HE is alive.

My favorite parts of the book were those explaining the life of Jesus through the eyes of a barren mother, specifically the story of Lazarus.   Lazarus?  Um, that was a HE.  He didn't lose a child (I guess that we know of).  Jesus raised him from the dead. Yeah, I get that.  But this is when Mary and Martha called to Jesus for help.  This is when Christ wept. I'm sure I've heard this interpretation before, but it didn't mean then what it means to me now.

Lazarus was sick.  He was on the edge of death.  Mary and Martha came to Jesus and told him that "the one [He] loves is sick" (John 11:3).  They didn't come to him and beg for him to come heal.  His disciples were the ones who questioned him because Jesus chose to stay put for a few more days, a time that surely would have seen his passing.  Mary and Martha trusted that Jesus knew what to do next.  They didn't order him around or tell him to heal their brother.  After being questioned by his disciples, Jesus tells them that he was glad he was not there to heal Lazarus, "so that you may believe" (John 11:15).  I don't believe the Lord doesn't heal, on purpose, so that we experience pain, as if we are being punished by a cruel, uncompassionate God.  I do believe he allows tragedy to happen in our lives so that we believe that he is capable of doing His will (without us telling him what that should be) and He is glorified.
Fast forward to the tomb of Lazarus.  When Jesus arrives to Bethany, Mary and Martha take him to the tomb and are weeping.  The bible tells us Jesus wept.
He knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and call him to come from the tomb.  Why would he cry?  Why would he weep?
Because his daughters were broken.  Because they couldn't see what He could.  They didn't know their brother would stand before them, alive again.  He weeps for me because I can't see what He can.
The bible also tells us that this Mary was the same Mary that poured perfume on the feet of Jesus and wipes his feet with her hair.  My bible says this nard was worth a year's wages and, by reading the reaction of everyone there, you can tell that is was a lot (it was a pint, my bible says!  That is 60 ounces.  Know how many ounces in typical perfume bottles? Two ounces. That's the equivalent of thirty bottles of perfume!).  Mary annointed Christ just days before he was crucified.  Do you know how often people bathed back then?  Not a lot (again, thirty bottles of perfume!).  The book clarifies that his is total speculation, but perfume that potent and expensive would have lingered for weeks, on the feet of Jesus and in the hair of Mary.  Imagine:  Mary, torn and broken at the death of her friend, her Savior.  Running from the cross, through the streets, to her home, to her safe place.  The perfume of worship, filling the air.  How much I want to be that.  How much I want to be a perfume to the Lord in the midst of my suffering.

Hebrews 4:15 says "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."  I don't serve a Lord who doesn't know how I feel.  I don't serve a Savior who doesn't care for my empty arms or broken heart, for God lost his own son.  He had to see his child's lifeless face.  He had to bury him.  He had to carry him through life, knowing full well that his Son would take on the sin of the world.  He gets it.
And, yet, he cares.  He more than cares:  He redeems and loves.  He comforts.  He soothes us with peace.

Selah wrote and performs a song called, "I Will Carry You".  At first, I thought, "well, this kind of applies to me, but I didn't really carry my baby".  But, then I heard Him say again- you carried him.  And I did.  I couldn't choose to carry him longer than I did.  But I carried him for 6 weeks.  I carried him while he was here, and now we carry him in our aching hearts until we see him again.
The lyrics are below the video.  My favorite part is the second verse-where Christ says he's shown pictures of time beginning, and walks her through the parted seas.  No One can love her- or him- like He can.  There were so many things Daniel and I wanted to do with our baby, with our son, with our daughter.  We wanted to worry about dirty diapers and feeding schedules.  We wanted to be up at night.  We wanted to have bath time and go on vacations.  We wanted to laugh and kiss and hug.  We don't get to do any of that.  What we do get to do, however, is worship the King one day, for eternity, while holding that baby in our arms.  Hallelujah.

 Selah - I Will Carry You lyrics

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there`s a greater story
Written long before me
Because he loves you like this

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Sweet Baby of ours, we will always carry you.
Love, Momma and Daddy


  1. Katie,

    I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now. I have really connected with your words and your sweet spirit that is present in each post. "How much I want to be a perfume to the Lord in the midst of my suffering." -- that absolutely floored me. What a beautiful description.

    I will continue to pray for peace, joy, and clarity for you and your husband.



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