A year ago tonight I was laying in bed awake, listening to a Texas thunderstorm outside and reliving the horror of that day in my head over and over. It was the kind of day you don’t think you’ll ever recover from.
I was confused and angry. I was gutted to my core. I had never felt such physical heartache in my life. My whole body was in agony; grieving and questioning. I had never been so lonely or felt so sure that God had turned his face from me. I remember crying out to Him that night, saying things like, “Where are you? Why didn’t you do something? This was your idea. You should have done something.”
That Christmas, Noland had given me a Giving Key with “hope” engraved on it. He wrote me a letter about how he wanted me to wear it until we had our first baby. As we walked through the process of waiting for Judah, I’d decided I was going to give the hope key to his birth mom after he was born — as a thank you for entrusting him to us, and a reminder of the hope of all that’s to come for her.
She was getting on a bus early the next morning to go to a rehab a few hours away. I remember laying in bed that night, wrestling with God and clinging to that hope necklace that almost felt like a lie at that point, and I felt this whisper in my spirit,
“This was meant to be hers, even though the outcome of this story was not as you’d hoped.”
I don’t think I got a single hour of sleep that night. I just waited for the sun to come up, and I got in my car and drove to the bus station. I’m not sure how or why, honestly. Maybe it was the strong willed part of my soul that so deeply needed something to feel redemptive. Maybe it was just a leading of the Holy Spirit, that by the grace of God I was able to see past my anger to be obedient to.
But I went. I walked up, in the rain, and I sat down on a bench next to her. I told her I was confused and heartbroken, and I knew she was too. I told her I didn’t regret fighting with her for our boy. I told her she was forgiven and free, and I told her that I’d intended to give her this gift on Judah’s birthday, and it felt wrong to not come see her off with it.
That was the last time I saw or heard from her. One year ago today. I think about her a lot. I pray for her sometimes, when I feel the courage to do so. I’ve seen her in a few dreams and I wonder all the time if she’s healing ok.
I’ve been on my own road to finding wholeness again since that day. It’s been a long journey full of probably more dark days than light ones. But I really believe that something of healing was unlocked in me that day, when I chose to show up, face and forgive her one more time.
I really believe that “getting over” something painful is an illusion we’ve created to protect ourselves from even more pain. Healing comes from getting through our pain, not over it.
So we face hard things. We revisit trauma and fear and loss, and we let God heal us over and over and over, until that place doesn’t look the same way it did when we started.
And you know what I love the most about following Jesus? Even in our darkest seasons, we are not disqualified from building His kingdom. Whoever told you that you had to be sidelined when you were broken lied.
I’ve learned that being broken and vulnerable is an open door to revival. I’ve learned that it’s true that what the enemy intends for evil, God can use for good. I’ve learned that obedience bears fruit, even when it hurts like hell, and that there is no better way to heal a broken heart than to continue to pour out all of the pieces of that broken heart in worship.
But I will never stop missing my boy. Even in the midst of God doing a new thing in our family in this season, I long to see the face of our first. I wonder every time I hold my nieces, born around the same time we should have met him, what he would look like right now.
One of my best friends had a baby boy last summer, about 3 weeks before Judah’s due date. She tells me all the time that as she watches her son grow, she thinks about mine growing up in Heaven, doing the same things she watches her boy do. I’m not sure how theologically sound that is, maybe someone smarter than me could tell you, but I sure love the thought of that.
I’ll never understand on this side of Heaven why we lost him. But one year after that awful May morning, here’s what I’m certain of: His grace is sufficient.
Somehow you look up, and you look back, and you realize that every small step of obedience through the hard things has made you whole again.
You’ll never get over it. But you’ll be changed in ways you didn’t think possible if you’re willing to go through it.