I stumbled across an amazing blog this week. The link is here: http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/define-joy.html
It was actually by pure accident I stumbled across the blog. I followed a link from another stillbirth blog where the writer was questioning God's will in allowing such things to happen - she was searching for answers and she'd linked to the above blog. The author is a lady called Sara. She had an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis and she died the day before Emilie did as a result of the disease. In her 'about me' section of her blog she says: "My life is a difficult balancing act, but I am not being flippant when I tell you that I have a good life. I have a home, friends, love and support. I have that cute dog I've talked about at length and I have the time to really be there for people when they need me. This is not the life I imagined for myself, but it's the life I've been blessed with and I won't take a moment of it for granted." What an amazingly brave thing to say! There is too much on her blog for me to talk about but I have been really touched by it and am so sad that I can't let her know what an impact her words have had on me this week. She talks alot on her blog about the issue of 'free will' and inspite of her excruciatingly painful illness her faith doesn't seem to waver at all. She says "I think free will allowed two people to fall in love and have a child, and their genetics combined to create me. And in those genetics was a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. Just like others may have heart disease or diabetes or a myriad of other illnesses... it's just luck of the draw. But I think God, after allowing that free will, then helps us to see that we can make beautiful choices out of difficult situations. He may lead me to the best ways to cope, He may lead me to comfort, He may lead me to serve by helping others... but choosing to follow His lead is my choice through free will as well".
This is something that I have been thinking about alot at the moment. I am reading a book called 'God on Mute' by Peter Grieg which talks about the issue of unanswered prayer. I thought the book might make me angry, but it doesn't. I'm finding it really comforting and faith building. When Emilie first died, I couldn't see how anything good could come out of the situation. I was hurt and angry - infact that doesn't come close - I don't think there are words to describe how I felt. Even now, I feel pain each morning when I wake up and each night when I go to sleep. It's unimaginable. But 5 months on I can see God working through the situation. I might not always be able to hear him or feel his presence but somehow I know he's there. Although some friendships have struggled since Emilie died with people not knowing what to say or do, most friendships have been cemented and I feel a real sense of belonging and community which I have never felt this strongly. I have been forced to work out what is important in my life and, although my life is unrecognisable from before Emilie died, I wouldn't change it. I like the way my life is panning out (taking the dead babies issues out of the equation, of course!) and I honestly don't think I'd go back to how my life was before she died. I can't wait to meet her and tell her that she truly changed our lives for the better. Last week a lady spoke to me telling me that when she'd had a miscarriage she found it really hard to verbalise her feelings and that my blog is helping her to do that. I've had many friends suffer miscarriage in the past and one friend who went through a neonatal death and then a stillbirth but I've never known what to say or what to do. Now I can see ways to support people and want to be able to do so. I can think of ways that I can use this experience to help other women......
So I guess what I'm saying is that 5 months on, I can see good things coming out of the situation but that doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt.
I realise now as well that joy is a very different thing to happiness. You can be joy filled without feeling happy or elated. I am not happy that Emilie or my other baby died. I am not happy that I've been forced to restructure my life and put career choices, hopes and dreams on hold and I'm not happy that Sam tells me every day that he misses Emilie and wants to know, rather forlornly, why he doesn't have a baby brother or sister. BUT I am filled with joy when I think of meeting Emilie again; I am filled with joy at the thought of having another baby and finally being able to give Sam that sibling; I'm filled with joy at the thought of being able to help and support other women when the time's right. I'm trying hard not to focus on how bad things seem but instead want to think of ways to turn things around so that I can say 'this is what you threw at me - and look what I've done with it!!' On a bad day I might feel less able to do this but thankfully the really bad days are getting less and I'm able to look forward a bit more.
I wanted to finish with something else from Sara's blog, and with one of her illustrations. What an amazing women she was!
"Joy: the unwavering trust that God knows what He’s doing and has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of it… not despite what’s happening in my life but because of it. When everything earthly feels heavy He gives me an internal lightness that can’t be touched." http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com/2008/11/define-joy.html