on gratitude

It's New Year's Eve again. Everyone is reflecting, setting goals, and excited for what the year ahead holds—simultaneously thankful and excited. It’s all so bright and shiny. With every post I read I feel a little more guilt that I’m not on the same page. 2015 had a lot of great moments, but overall it was a year marked by sadness. After walking through a year like that it’s hard to be excited for the one to come. It’s December 31st, and I’m exhausted. My heart is weary, and I’m nervous for what the coming year holds. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a whole new year, but I’ve lived through January 1st enough times to know that it doesn’t magically erase who and what I was the day before. And today I’m tired and nervous.

2015 was hard. I struggled to live up to my own expectations, watched people that I love hurt, and walked through the greatest heartbreak of my life. There were, of course, good moments. New friendships, quality time with people I love, and watching my daughter grow into the funniest, sweetest little human. It's important for me to acknowledge both sides of the year I just walked through. I would never want to diminish all the blessings God lavished on my life. I also don't want to pretend that the hard parts didn't happen, because as I walk into 2016 it's those parts that feel like they've left the deepest marks on my soul. 

In 2015 I found out that I was expecting my second child. Then just a few days later I found out that child was one I would never get to hold or kiss. I would never get to watch them grow, because their little life only lasted five short weeks. In the weeks and months that followed, I experienced God's protection in an incredibly tangible way. He saved my heart from the anger that I was so afraid would consume me if I ever had to walk through such a loss. I was devastated, but in a way that didn't tear me from Him. It was a deep and profound sadness, one I didn't know was possible, and it still is. But in that sadness God brought forth gratitude. He reminded me daily of all the ways I'd been blessed by my second baby. He showed me that knowing that life, even if only for a few short days, was worth the sadness I'll always carry. 

That little life cracked me open and dumped out everything I'd been clinging so tightly to. In that loss I saw just how little my plans mean. I saw just how little my hopes mean. I saw that my life isn't about being safe and comfortable. If that was God's plan, I would never have been forced to give up my littlest baby. He's not working things together for my comfort. He's working them together for His glory. If I believe that then that means losing my baby must somehow bring glory to the God I say is sovereign. In His sovereignty He saw fit to bless me with a second child and then take that little life away after just a few days together. Where is His glory in that? It's in how I walk forward. Will I move forward still singing His praises? Or am I going to be crippled by fear, doubt, hurt, and anger? Only the first option acknowledges the truth that His glory, not my comfort, is ultimate. So that's what He enabled me to do. He took the anger and doubt before it ever had the chance to scar my heart, and He filled my mouth with His praises. Yes, the loss still weighed, and continues to weigh, on me. My heart breaks for all the baby giggles I'll never hear, for all the firsts I'll never bear witness to. I wake up every morning knowing I'll have to walk through another day missing one of my children. But through that all, God remains unchanged. My loss doesn't take away from His faithfulness. 

It's a lesson that I'm grateful to have learned: to be grateful. Not just to accept the hard parts of life, but to be grateful for them. To do more than say "I'm doing OK." To stand up and share my pain, but in the same moment breath out God's grace. I lost my baby after only knowing them for five days, but those five days were full of such joy. I spent weeks walking through a darkness that could have suffocated me, but my community stepped in and lifted the weight from my shoulders. They celebrated my baby's life and pointed me toward God's faithfulness. I won't ever get to rock my baby to sleep, but I have a God who created that baby's short life and loves them even more fiercely than I ever could. I lost my baby after just one week together, but that life gave me an eternity of perspective on who my God is, how He loves me and the fact that He is always fighting to make me someone who glorifies Him more completely. 


As I walk forward into 2016 that's the truth I pray I carry close to my heart. That God is faithful, His glory is ultimate, and those truths mean that gratitude can live in my heart and on my lips no matter what circumstance I'm walking through. My heart is weary and nervous, but it’s that gratitude that carries me forward. I don’t have a lot of grand goals for 2016. All I have is the quiet, desperate prayer than God would continue to cultivate the gratitude that He’s planted in my heart this year. 

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