I've been thinking a lot lately about how God prepares us. It does sound trite, doesn't it? It does sound simplistic, too. Sounding like a drippy greeting card doesn't change it from being true.
2005 was a bitterly rough and emotional year for me. I miscarried twice that year. We wanted both babies, yet neither made it past the 8th week gestation. My body didn't cooperate in the aftermath and by year's end, I had undergone three D&Cs. I grieved. I grieved hard. Yes, people said unwittingly stupid things to me. Hey, we all say stupid things when we don't know what to say. I took my time and owned my grief, not pitching a tent in the valley of the shadow of death, but methodically placing one foot in front of the other.
As wretched and tear-filled as those days were, God taught me how to deal. He taught me how to face pain and not fear pain. He taught me how to sit with someone in pain and how best to anticipate their needs. Through the nearly-unbearable pain I experienced, He taught me how to be available to others experiencing nearly-unbearable pain.
He's since put that knowledge to use. The Christmas after my last miscarriage, a friend lost her son through a freak accident. I remember struggling over what to write to her, but the words were too jumbled in my head to make it onto paper with any semblance of coherency. I called her. We talked and talked and she was the first person to say, "you're the only one who gets this." Thank you, God.
The most recent experience has been with my friend who lost her husband two weeks ago. We've been friends for thirteen years and her loss hurts Darling and me deeply. We miss him, too. But God has strengthened me. He's given me the ability to hurt deeply with someone and not back away from the fierceness of her pain. He's given me the words and authority of experience to say it's okay to grieve and it takes time. He's given me the comprehension that all emotions are equal and how we come to them might differ, but grief is grief and joy is joy.
I am not saying all of this to set myself on high as the Queen of the Grieving or to say I know this lesson better than someone else. I'm... I'm thankful. I'm thankful God took our nightmare and used it within me to comfort His children. I'm not a saint. (Hey, I've already told you I can curse like a sailor). I'm ungrateful more often than I care to admit. Really, sometimes I'm just a mess.
God didn't make me lose those babies. We live in a fallen world. There was something wrong with our babies and they weren't able to live and they now wait for us in Heaven. But God didn't make them die. God didn't make me suffer just so He could teach me a lesson. What He did do was hold me close during my pain and give me the grace to grieve deeply without losing my mind or marriage or family.
Make no mistake: I'm not saying I didn't hurl some (sailor-like) choice words at Our Lord and Savior. I'm not saying I didn't behave like a heartbroken child wailing and railing at her parent. I walked through the valley of the shadow of death and came out on the other side. I am saying God didn't let my pain go to waste. He used my experience to give me a heart for others in pain.
So I say this to you, my readers who struggle: God isn't doing this to you, but He will not let this hell-on-earth experience go to waste. Eventually, someday, you'll be able to give thanks for your hard-earned knowledge.