This is the story of how I lost control.
It didn’t happen in just a day, or a week, or even a month. Slowly but surely, over time God started to show me how tight my grip was on the things happening in my life. I was strangling His plans and it was keeping me from my future.
I have learned over the years, I have a bit of a control issue. It’s important to me that things look a certain way. Which also means, sometimes, I want people to act a certain way. Because when they do, what I ask them to do, it affirms me. Let’s me know that they approve of me, appreciate me, love me.
But that is not healthy. In the end, I hold people to unfair standards, standards that I would not even be able to meet. The only way for a control freak like me to learn how to lose control is, well, to be forced to let go.
Unfortunately for me, this happened through a series of very hard events.
Our Big Plans
Let me start off by saying, prior to this point, and well, if I am honest, even after this point needing control has been an issue. I am a professed approval addict and well, I have people-pleasing and insecurity struggles, which is why control is also an issue for me. You see if I can control my situation, I can also control whether people approve of me or not. Well, at least try to.
But this was one time I couldn’t make the circumstances work in my favor. You see, this situation was bigger than me. It’s situations like these where God can remind us exactly who is in control, Him.
About three years after we got married, I started suggesting to my husband it was time for us to have a child. I wasn’t getting younger (already over 30 at this point) and being older than him, it was time for us to try and start a family. We went before the Lord in prayer, and both agreed it was time. It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. That was on a Friday and by Monday, I had miscarried our first child.
We were devastated.
We Tried Again
It took a few months to get pregnant again, but we weren’t going to give up, even though this time it felt scarier. We were nervous that we might miscarry again. But this time we made it not only through the first weekend but up to week eight. This time I was on the job training clients in Georgia when the bleeding began. At the time I lived in Cincinnati and was a long way from home. I called my doctor to find out what I needed to do. After taking a pregnancy test and seeing the line show up only slightly faded, I knew what was happening. To say I was angry was an understatement.
Thankfully I had an amazing boss, and she had me hop on a plane home. As if it was that easy.
What transpired will be an experience I will never forget. In fact, every time I walk through the Atlanta airport it brings back the memories afresh. But it was there in the bathroom stall that I lost our second baby. I could barely speak to anyone. Talking was not an option because deep sobs hung in my throat.
Somehow I made it back to our home airport where my husband waited with a car. I cried all the way home curled up in the back seat. There was a tug of war of the pain between my broken heart and my cramps.
The next weeks are still a blur because I could barely breathe. It was hard to live. I numbed my pain with books, movies, and food. I wanted nothing to do with God because I was so angry at Him. It didn’t make sense. We prayed. We asked Him for the desires of our heart. The Bible says we are to procreate, that babies are a blessing. What did we do wrong?
A few months later the church we were attending, Crossroads, had its annual Christmas Show. This isn’t a dress up the kids and coo over their costumes show, this was the real deal. Dancers, musicians, lights, snow falling from the ceiling. This show could be on Broadway and it would sell out every night.
This year they decided to take the show to a new level and have the Wise Men belay down from the ceiling. One of the performers missed their rung and fell to their death. My husband was on staff and watched the accident happen. He still can’t watch that scene or performances where the performers are hanging from ropes.
Our pastor was amazing. Instead of dealing with it quietly, even though the event made the national news, he brought the whole church together. All ten thousand of us to walk us through the grieving process. He was honest, raw, and real. In doing so, he reminded us of the story of Job. A righteous man who had done no wrong in the eyes of God but was targeted by the Devil for his righteousness. When God turned him over to Satan, he lost everything. Cattle, sheep, and most importantly children. His response?
Blessed Be The Name of the Lord
He fell down and worshipped the Lord. The Bible captures him saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV) My pastor reminded us that we are not God. His plans are above our plans, His ways above our ways. He doesn’t need to answer to us and we may not understand everything that He does. But just like Job we need to strive to be people, that no matter what our circumstances that we can say “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”
As sad as I was for the loss of the life of the performer, anger raged in me. I thought, “Why God? Why did you have to take both of our babies? I don’t understand. Why did the teenager who didn’t even want to be pregnant get to keep hers? The drug addict? The prostitute? Surely we were better than these.”
He then had us take the person we had lost, whether it as the performer who fell only a few nights before, or someone else we were grieving and hold them in our hand. When we were ready, we were to lift our hands up in surrender and let them go. God, in His sovereignty, is in control, we are not. Our surrender reminds us of that.
As we stood there, they played Matt Redman’s song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.
My hardened heart began to soften. Deep down inside I loved God. I also knew that He loved me. He wasn’t trying to make a fool out of me or withholding blessings from me. He had a plan, and though I didn’t understand it, I knew it was good. It took me a bit, but looking at my husband I realized the grace I had received. I was a sinner, an adulterer, and a divorcee, and yet my God gave me an amazing man to love me and be with me all of my days.
With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands to heaven and with each release let my babies go. In exchange, I experienced peace and freedom.
A New Story
That was mid-December and on New Year’s Eve, on a few weeks later, we were to go out with friends. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine but decided it may be a good idea to check to see if I was pregnant just in case. The screen went from blank to pink in a matter of seconds and I knew, we were pregnant again.
Eight months later, after a rough pregnancy including Braxton-hicks and pre-eclampsia, my sweet miracle child was born at 35 weeks. Sawyer James is our pride and joy. Now eight years old and keeping us on our toes.
I learned a huge lesson that night. Trying to control God, people’s responses to my pregnancy or lack thereof was not going to change our reality. It did not define me as a wife, a mom, or a woman. It wouldn’t determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.
But instead letting go and allowing Him to guide our story instead of trying to write it ourselves, made way for the family we dreamed of and the life He desires us to live.
I have had two more miscarriages since then, losing three more babies. But what I do know now, is that God, in His sovereignty knew what my future would hold. I do not have physical children to hold, but since then He has birthed a vision of community transformation and now a book that holds this story and so many more.
God is In Control
Let it go. Those expectations you have of how your husband should respond to you. Let it go. Your children will find their way into His arms. Let it go. Your work will continue on without you. None of those things define you, they certainly do not own you, and cannot determine your identity. You are who God says you are. So let it go.
Question: What do you need to let go of so God can affirm the identity He has given to you?