Tag Archives: compassion

Why Is This Still Happening?

I did a series on my blog called Continuing the Conversation about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. As I would research articles online about recent conversations on this topic, I started noticing a trend. A lot of these posts online would start out with “We don’t talk about (miscarriage, infertility, etc) very much.”

Even though 1 in 4 women experience loss , I still seem to live in a world where that statistic is not realized (and that’s the American statistic. One of the most technologically advanced, medically advanced, innovative countries, and we still experience infertility and loss 25% of the time). I still get comments at the store from the cashier or some other stranger who suggests that I need to have another child like it is as easy as picking laundry detergent on aisle 12.

Being on this side of the road now, it’s easy to see the struggle, the tears, the waiting, the dashed hopes, and all of the pain that comes with simply trying to add another member to your family. There doesn’t really seem to be a simple way to do it, despite how much people have suggested all sorts of “easy answers” to our complicated struggle in the past. So, I thought I would take a step back, back in time, to when I was that newly wedded wife who was afraid her birth control wasn’t going to work, and she would get pregnant way before she was ready. The first few times I even heard about a friend struggling with infertility, all the responses that I would eventually hear in my own situation popped into my head, and sometimes even out of my mouth.

I just simply didn’t understand. I thought I did. I thought infertility or miscarriage were things that happened in extreme cases, that all this anxiety may just be an overreaction and that they needed to just relax (I know, I know, I was young and ignorant). It wasn’t until I had the term “unexplained” attached to my own stillbirths that I realized the medical research doesn’t actually have this all figured out. It’s is not a simple cause and effect. It’s a case by case situation. And each case has to be approached with compassion and patience.

But why, when we have all of this evidence, all these stories shared in books and online, do we still have to endure the conversations in the grocery store or at church or even in our own families? And I realized, speaking for myself most of all, that this world is not as stable as we would like it to be, that pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, working hard, being diligent, saying the right things, praying the right prayers, checking all the boxes just doesn’t guarantee anything.

Personally, I like structure. I like the routine. I like to know that if I do A and B, then C will always be the result. But life doesn’t happen that way. Kids die before their parents. Loving wives can still be cheated on. “Til Death Do You Part” can happen way before it should. People who love their jobs and are good at them still lose them. Houses, even in gated communities, can still be vandalized. Kids from loving, supportive homes can still make bad choices in their life.

I’m not saying this because I’m just throwing up my hands, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry” about it all. But since we all know and experience instability in our lives, we have an amazing opportunity to extend patience and compassion to those who are experiencing it in their own life. To acknowledge that there is no easy answer that will fix things. To listen and be willing to sit in the silence of grief. To understand that I won’t understand every situation completely, and extend grace to those around me who could be having the worst day of their life. To approach every conversation without all the answers.

This is challenging for me. I like being in control and knowing how things end. I don’t like being uncomfortable or have anyone around me that’s sad. I love laughing and having living room dance parties and late-night board game sessions. I love stories with hopeful and happy endings. I like sunshiny days in the garden. I like seeing other people experience joy and good surprises.

But life is both these good things and the bad stuff, too. And it’s healthy to acknowledge them both in our lives and the lives of others. As a Christian, I think it’s a big part of being a follower of Christ. He wept and laughed and got outraged. He felt all the feelings without fear or shame. In all the instability, he is a rock. A cornerstone to all the hope in the world. I want to use that hope in Christ to further my growth in how I interact with others, forgiving the hurtful, ignorant comments because I understand the need for control and distaste for the uncomfortable. And in the same way, I want to watch the words that come out of my own mouth, that they bring hope instead of hurt, silence when it is preferred, and enough compassion to acknowledge that I don’t understand, but I’m still gonna be here anyway.

Summer Study: Ephesians 4

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

 

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I try not to get too political on my blog.  There are definitely things I feel strongly about when it comes to politics, but I also feel like in this climate, not much is heard clearly and too much is being said.

This chapter in Ephesians talked about unity, something we desperately need in the church, maybe even in our country, but I want to focus on the church because that’s what Paul is talking about.  Starting in verse 14, he says:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

I’ve seen people talk about the truth without love, and I’ve seen people talk about love without truth.  It makes me realize that this is a time for discerning, not in some legalistic way, but in a way that speaks towards growing up in Christ.  If I’m not becoming like Christ more each day, then I’m just chasing after the latest blog or podcast that makes me feel something, letting my emotions guide me instead of the Spirit.

I’m not saying that you can’t be led by the Spirit through a blog article or a podcast, but I’m saying that even these good things can become an idol.

In this same line of thought, Paul talks about the things these Ephesians needed to let go of in order to be in Christ, to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

The two things that stood out to me the most were the “in your anger do not sin” and “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”  So I want to unpack that a bit.

He mentions anger twice in this chapter.  First, in verse 26 and 27 and then also in verse 31.  He doesn’t say that anger is a sin.  Anger is a response to injustice.  It is very much needed in our world.  But allowing anger to take hold of you, to root down deep and grow into bitterness, rage, even brawling and slander, that’s where it gets dangerous.

When I lost my daughters, I was never angry at God, but I was angry.  I have been angry at a society that doesn’t recognize the pain that pregnancy loss brings.  I have been angry at the thoughtlessness of other people’s comments or actions that heap coals on already suffering women.  And when I don’t let go of that anger, bitterness roots in deep and vomits out of my mouth in slews of judgment and pettiness.  It’s not pretty, folks.  And that kind of anger can divide.  I know why Paul mentions it twice.

Then he talked about the unwholesome talk, which I always thought was about profanity, but the second half of that verse talks about something different:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

This isn’t about profanity.  This is about being critical without kindness, gossiping and venting to other people, talking without the expectation to listen.  It’s helping others according to their needs, not yours.  It’s a humble way of having a conversation. It isn’t about how right you are, it’s about helping a person who is already ready to listen. How many times have we seen on social media the back and forth vitriol that never seems to amount to anything more than an unfollow or unfriend?

And also, just as a side note, sharing the crazy to talk about how crazy it is to friends who already know that it’s crazy doesn’t seem to be helpful or building up anyone in particular.  It just seems to be meant to tear everyone down, and again, divide us into groups who are yelling into the ether with no real desire to listen to one another at all.

This chapter really convicted me this week, and for this week, I’m going to use the last verse as my mantra wherever I go.  I hope you will do this with me.  I have it in the picture below that you can print off and tape to your mirror, which is what I’m going to do.  Let’s be people of unity, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness this week so we can grow more into the image of our big brother, Jesus.

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Summer Study: Ephesians 3

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Ephesians 3

I felt like this chapter was a transitional chapter.  Up to this point, Paul has been telling the church how rich God’s grace is.  In the first half of chapter 3, he continues this topic, but then ends the chapter with a prayer of unity for Ephesus, that they experience the riches of grace from God and the love of Christ within their church.

I can’t imagine what the Gentiles of the early church must have felt when they heard Paul say things like, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  That, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

On one side, there were Jews telling them that they had a bunch of hoops to jump through, and on the other, the gods of the pagans were unreachable.  Here, Paul is telling them that they can have a closeness, an acceptance from a God through faith in a man who conquered death, without strings attached.  That this relationship was foretold by prophets and apostles.

They were being introduced to the love of God through the faith in Jesus Christ by the words of the apostle Paul. This love sparked a religious and cultural revolution, that spread to the far reaches of the earth, that eventually landed among my ancestors and was passed down from generation to generation through the church to the glory of Christ.  And Paul speaks into that at the end of this chapter.

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And that’s just simply beautiful to me.