Bro•ken|adjective|: violently separated into parts; shattered; damaged or altered; not working properly; interrupted; full of obstacles; disrupted by change.
Beau•ti•ful|adjective|: more lovely, magnificent
For those of you keeping up with this blog, you know that only 10 short months ago we buried our sweet third-born son, Collier, unexpectedly. Our family has felt broken, but God has been faithful to us in every moment since that day. As an added blessing, only three months into this first year of grieving, we discovered we were expecting again. Not that having a new baby on the way replaced Collier, but it certainly gave us a little extra joy back into our home. We named him Matthew Isaac, which means “gift of God” and “laughter,” something I was certain the Lord had given to us in the midst of this season of loss– a season I sure was hoping was coming to a close.
Then came the phone call that let us know everything was not okay this time around either. Only 14 weeks into the pregnancy, we learned that our little Isaac had Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome. Was that the worst news we could have received? No, but suddenly everything changed as we prepared for life to be different, again. If I’m honest, we were not happy at first, but those feelings quickly vanished. We felt a deep, overwhelming peace from the Lord. We knew He was with us, and we wanted the baby HE wanted us to have. We accepted that this child He had given us might be different than what we were asking for, but that was okay because we trusted Him fully. We became completely engulfed in being parents to such a special little boy, who was proving over and over to live up to his name–a gift of joy, straight from God. Nobody on earth loved him, and all his 21 chromosomes, more than us!! After all, it was just a disability, not another dead heartbeat.
Until it was. On May 1st, my 33rd birthday, life took another drastic turn. My husband and I sat in a doctor’s office as we watched an ultrasound tech desperately try to find our son’s heartbeat, but there wasn’t one. The next day, I delivered and held another lifeless 26 week old baby in my arms that only a week prior had hardly ever stopped moving. I felt all the same feelings I had with Collier sweep back over me. I wept and questioned “why again, Lord?” We both felt the sting of death as we realized how much pain burying not one, but two children, in a 9 month time span brings.
So many tears and questions. My heart was shattered. Our family has been even more broken (even though we know our children are perfectly safe and waiting for us).
He’s not about to let our story end there.
If there’s one repeated lesson I keep learning it’s that He does His most important, beautiful work in our times of utter brokenness. When we are at the end of ourselves and have nothing to bring Him but what’s left of our hearts, He shines through.
Just one week ago, He graciously showed me this truth once again, at a time when I really needed Him to speak to me. I was sitting and listening as an adult leader shared the gospel with all the kids at our Vacation Bible School. In her hands was a tiny glow stick. Nothing special, or useful—at least not until it’s broken. As she spoke, it’s like God whispered to me while I held back tears- The light from the glow stick shines most brightly and beautifully only after being broken.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really like that this is how God works sometimes. In fact, I hate it. It hurts, and many times I wish I could throw the covers over my head and hide from it all. But instead, I have to keep choosing to run toward God. As much as it hurts, in my heart I want to keep saying “Lord, if I have to go through this again, please don’t waste it. Please take this messy life and make it beautiful, so that You shine brightly through all the cracks and broken pieces.”
It’s no coincidence that God used the same process with His own Son. At Jesus’ most intense moment of suffering and brokenness, God was most pleased with Him. Only after His body was bruised, broken, and beaten for us was the beautiful work of redemption completed. The pretty part couldn’t happen without the ugly part.
Am I trying to sound super spiritual, put together and with all the answers? No, no, and NO. In fact, these days I’m anything but those things, and I don’t see how multiple losses can turn out good. It doesn’t feel good. This place of submission I’m now resting in has only come after wrestling with God for weeks. And tomorrow, I’ll have to submit to this as His will for me all over again. And again, and again, and again.
All I’m saying is that God (thankfully) happens to specialize in using broken people for His glory. He doesn’t waste pain. He won’t waste my tears, sleepless nights, intense grief. He won’t waste yours either. Thank God that each day He’s taking broken pieces and making them beautiful, again. Thank God that I can fully keep entrusting my life into hands that perfectly redeem. Thank God that our family’s story doesn’t end messy and ugly–one day it will be perfectly beautiful again.
Until that day, I’m going to keep offering myself to Him over and over and over…. and you can pray for me.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19