Remember that time I said something along the lines of, “I’ll be back next week” in my last post, and then a whole summer went by and I said nothing else? Sorry about that.
Confession — summer is really hard. I wish it wasn’t. It’s so bright and sunshiny and happy, and life slows down, and ALL the fun summer things happen like lake trips and beach trips and outdoor concerts and sno cones. It’s the lightest time of the year, and it is the darkest time in my soul.
Summer is bookended for us with the day we lost Judah and the day we should have met him, and everything in between comes with the remembrance of a surprise pregnancy that ended a month later with a devastating miscarriage. Summer is a kind of dark time in the Gilmore household, to be honest.
All summer long in the back of my mind I knew if I would just be disciplined to write some things down I would probably feel a lot more like myself, but it felt scary and vulnerable, so I didn’t. This is a thing I’ve been working through in counseling for months. I don’t know who I am anymore, I say. Have you been writing at all, he asks. Repeat.
And then this week I went to visit my friend Ellie. We were catching up the first night I got there, and she asked me how I was doing and why I haven’t been writing much in this season. As I began to unpack all that’s been going on in my heart this summer — the remembrance of and resurfacing of grief, the way its affected my marriage and my whole life, really — I started to realize that there’s a pretty deep wound at the root of it all.
Somewhere along the way with all the grief and the trauma, I just put walls up. I didn’t really mean to, but at some point I just started to operate like I was waiting for something else bad to happen, so I’d put up a ton of defenses to keep anything from hurting me again.
What dawned on me as we were talking that night is that there is a very specific piece of God that I’m still offended by, and it’s the Father Heart of God. It isn’t with the person of Jesus — I feel like I know Him better because I’ve suffered. It isn’t with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit — I have made it through the last few years because of Him.
What I’m still offended and confused by is a Father who lets his daughter suffer. That we would step out in faith with the Judah story after all the ways He spoke so clearly, and then lose him they way we did. That He would surprise us when we weren’t even trying with a baby, only to allow us to lose that baby so soon after. It makes no sense. It never will.
And yes of course I know all the “right” things to say to something like this, things about the goodness and mercy of God, about His perfect timing, about how we see in part and He sees in full — but none of it changes that I was faithful and I lost anyway. I hate that. I hate losing. I hate loss. I’m still so angry with God for letting those things happen to me.
As I processed all of this through tears with Ellie she looked at me and said, “I wonder if you need to forgive.” Sweet Ellie. She always challenges me in the most humble of ways. What she should have said was, “Hey stupid, forgive your Good Father already. That unforgiveness is keeping you in chains.”
I don’t even really remember what we talked about for the rest of the night because those words were echoing in my mind, waging an entire war with my pride in a matter of minutes.
The next day I wasn’t feeling well, and I was tired and frustrated and laying on Ellie’s couch while she was out running a few errands. In my frustration I said, “God, will you please heal me?” and instantly I felt convicted that I know deep down I don’t believe Him anymore to do kind things like that for me, and that crushed me.
I cried and wrestled through whether or not I felt ready to say out loud that I forgive Him. (Quick theological side note: God is perfect. He needs no forgiveness. He has done nothing wrong. WE need to forgive so that we can stop seeing him wrongly. The forgiveness is from us verbally, but it’s for us spiritually.)
I sort of half way said something like, “I know you have never harmed me. I know you don’t willingly afflict your children (Lamentations 3:33), and I really don’t want to be mad at you anymore.”
And then that night Ellie and I did the same thing we always do at the end of our time together — we prayed. We pray for all the things. Our marriages, our families, our communities, our hopes, our fears — all of it. And as I began to pray that night it just all started pouring out of me…
“Abba, I forgive you.” I told Him I was still mad and confused but I miss Him. I am so tired from sitting down to try to spend time with Him but keeping myself from deeper places with Him because I built walls to protect myself from any more trauma or grief. I had built a wall in place of the veil that had already been torn. Sheesh. Who’s the real offender here?
I needed to repent. So I did. And as I repented through snot and sobs, I felt Ellie’s hands reach across the table and grab a hold of mine, and in that moment I just sensed God saying, “You’re OK. I’m here. I never left you.”
Sometimes we need a good friend to grab us by the hand and drag us into a holy moment.
The next day I was flying back to Salt Lake City from Nashville, and I had a layover in Denver that was supposed to be like 3 hours long. I had been fighting off a cold for a week, had a tired baby, and was so ready to get home.
Our flight landed about 10 minutes early, and I quickly looked up other flights to see if there was anything earlier I could try to get a seat on. It was 7:20, and the only other flight to Salt Lake before mine was at 7:40. I got off the plane at 7:25 and sprinted across terminal C to try to get to the gate before they closed the doors at 7:30. The whole time I’m praying, “Please God, let us make it and let there be an empty seat.”
I got there right as the last passenger was boarding. Completely out of breath and sweating, I blurted out to the girl at the gate, “Please tell me there are seats open on this flight I have to get this baby home!”
She said there were but I’d have to go to the customer service desk to see if they’d transfer me before they have to close the door, like, now. So I run over to the desk (which by the way is VERY far from the gate at the Denver airport), praying the same prayer, ask the same frantic question, and long story short they were able to transfer me and they opened the already closed door for me to let me on.
As I was boarding I cried and thanked God for reminding me that He is still kind in small places, when I’m tired and weary and just want to get my sad baby home and my sick body to bed.
“What makes things divine is the inclusion of God in them,” says John Dawson in a YWAM teaching from the 70s on the Father Heart of God.
I’ve excluded Him for too long, afraid of being hurt again. And man, I think I missed out on some intimacy with Him during that time.
So here’s to a new season. I love that I’m writing this late on the last night of summer, as the dawn will bring the official first day of fall to us tomorrow. May a new season in all of our souls follow along — guided by His kindness that leads us to repentance.
And for the love, someone hold me accountable to keep writing in this new season we’re all in together.