When God Sits With You

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“I felt like I should pray but I didn’t know where to start, didn’t know how to begin to express the things of my heart, until recently so full of anticipation, now so full of grief.”

By Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen | Twitter: @fiona_lynne

burn girl prom queenA few days after I miscarried our first child at ten weeks, I woke early without planning to. Sleep alluded me and I could see the sky already lightening where I could glimpse it through the skylight, so I got out of bed without disturbing my tired husband and tiptoed down the stairs.

Grabbing a rug and my Bible I headed for the balcony and pulled the blanket close around me as I sat and watched the sun grow lighter.

My Bible lay unopened where I’d placed it on the table. I felt like I should pray, but I didn’t know where to start; didn’t know how to begin to express the things of my heart, until recently so full of anticipation, now so full of grief. So I just sat and watched the swallows that always appear to welcome the new day swirl and somersault around the roofs.

The morning air made my nose cold but I was warm under the rug. The tears came easily and softly as I sat and watched as this new day unfolded itself before me, stretching out light like stiff limbs, breathing in new sound and movement like a morning yawn.

Something inside me let go that morning. The fist that was clenched so hard in my chest uncurled itself. No clever or holy prayers came to my lips; I still felt sadness running thick through my veins. I heard God speaking to me: Just relax, sweet child, let go of all your expectations of how this should be, and rest here with me. We will grieve together, you and I, for the child you lost.

When we found out we had lost our unborn baby, I knew very little about miscarriage. I had heard in whispers of a few people who had lost a baby, but never spoken about it with anyone who had walked this path themselves. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. The pain hit me like an express train in the early days after our loss. A pre-planned holiday gave me space with my husband to process the loss, but I’d find myself standing on the steps of some tourist attraction, my body shaking with unquenchable sobs.

A month later, I still struggle with how to grieve this. Life goes on and there’s work to be done, a business to build, friends to meet, dinners to cook. And in the background is this constant hum of sadness that I’m not quite sure how to deal with. I don’t know what to do with this sadness, but I’m also not sure what to do with the everyday happiness that returned – they exist side by side most days.

In all of it, I keep remembering that early morning on the balcony, the words I felt spoken in my soul: Rest here with Me. I try not to force any emotion, simply allow myself to experience them as they come. When the sadness overwhelms me, I let myself mourn again the lost dreams of this child. When I laugh and joke with my girlfriends, I don’t let myself feel guilty for my happiness.

Years ago I wrote down the words of a young woman who was grieving her brother’s tragic death. I foolishly never wrote down her name or the website, but these words came back to me this last month and spoke powerfully to me of how to mourn with God:

“It is here I have accepted that my tears are my prayers. My pain in my prayer. My questions, my art, my hope are my prayers. My hope that the sun will rise again, that I will see him in that perfect place, that everything I live for is real.”

Here is what I’ve learnt then about resting through the grieving process:

1. Every grieving process is different and intensely personal. Even my husband experienced this loss differently from me. There is no right way, so I am learning to let go of the expectations of grief that we place on ourselves. If you’re walking through this now, allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come, don’t force them if they’re not there, or dismiss them if they are. God is not threatened by our emotions, he can handle whatever we bring to him.

“The grief within me has its own heartbeat. It has its own life, its own song. Part of me wants to resist the rhythms of my grief, yet as I surrender to the song, I learn to listen deep within myself” ~ Alan Wolfelt

2. Grieving takes time. It can’t be rushed, can’t be hurried, can’t be forced. The Bible tells of individuals–and sometimes the whole nation of Israel–stopping everything to mourn a lost loved one together (Abraham mourned Sarah, Joseph mourned Jacob, the Israelites mourned Aaron and then Moses, the church mourned Stephen).

A beautiful song by Catherine Prewitt (and discovered via Micha Boyett), says,

“This won’t take a little time; you will have to rest awhile 
Broken bird, you aren’t strong. 
In the waiting He draws near; says, Beloved do not fear, 
I will bear all that went wrong.”

3. The biblical image of rest is one of security–we find our rest in the fortress of strength and love that is our God (Psalm 62:1-2). So much can feel uncertain when death occurs. I found it helpful when I struggled with the questions to hold on to those things I could trust in–that God loves me, that this death was in no way a punishment from God, that my sorrow will not be wasted. In the security of these truths I found rest.

4. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Another blogger wrote “It’s like a great big sign at the foot of the Cross that says: “You Belong Here.”” Jesus understood grief, he understood mourning. He too wept for a lost loved one. When you feel like no one understands this, or your can’t express it, know that God knows. God understands. God will rest in this place with you until you’re ready to get up and walk on.

____________________________

My dear SheLoves sisters, I’d love to hear:

  • Have you walked here in your life?
  • Most of us have walked in grief at one point, what do remember being a turning point in your walk?
  • Did you hear from God in your grief?

____________________________

About Fiona: 

I am an event planner, living in Luxembourg with my Danish husband. I love throwing parties and dinners, gathering people together, seeing the new friendships and plans that emerge. I love seeing people find their role in God’s big story. I like to bake and travel and pick up new traditions.

My word for the year is “brave,” because I don’t want to let fear be the reason I miss out on all God has for me. I blog at fionalynne.com/blog and tweet at @fiona_lynne.

Image credit: Jeff Ruane on flickr

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Daniela Schwartz
I am a happily married mother of two gorgeous boys ages 2 & 10. I write, create and decorate. I am passionate about all three. I also love naps and staying in my pyjama's all day. I haven't figured out if this is due to laziness or depression, possibly both. I think Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened. I have a twin sister so if you happen to run into me and I ignore you or seem rude, it is probably her. You can tell if it's me because I look a little younger and am slightly prettier (wink). I blog about life at danielaschwartz.com
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Comments

  1. Amy Jackson says:

    Fiona, thank you for your words and honesty here. Love you lots! Miss you! You are brave :). God is with you.

    Amy

  2. Thank you for your brave, honest words. I am so sorry for your loss, but I am sure that by sharing, you are going to be able to comfort someone experiencing a similar loss.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Thank you, Randi. I had no idea before this, just how many women suffer miscarriages. It’s been a comfort to me when they’ve shared their stories, so I really do pray mine can do the same for someone else.

  3. Hi Fiona,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. When my mother-in-law died not long ago, I found I couldn’t even pray. When we knew she was dying, I didn’t pray to God for healing, because I didn’t believe that would happen. And then, after she died, I was so numb I couldn’t pray at all. I had no words. A friend mentioned those verses to me about the Holy Spirit (and I wish I could remember the passage, but I don’t know my Bible that well!) — something about the Spirit groaning with me and praying for me when I did not have the words. That was a great comfort to me.
    Praying healing for you…and that you feel the Holy Spirit praying for you as you move through grief.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Michelle, I’m so sorry for your loss. That verse was a comfort to me too (I just checked – it’s Romans 8:26): “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

  4. Amanda M. says:

    I miscarried my first baby at nine weeks. Even four years later, thinking of it still makes me sad. I remember crying and yelling at God, and then moments later finding comfort in singing “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus.” I went back and forth with these emotions for weeks – anger, sadness, trust, sadness…
    On what would have been his/her second birthday, I wrote this poem about my miscarriage/my unborn baby
    http://www.wanderingonpurpose.com/2012/02/groundhog-day.html

    • fiona lynne says:

      Amanda, your poem is such a beautiful remembrance of your child. The last line especially, really touched me: ”
      thank you for teaching me to love as a mama for the very first time.” Thank you so much for sharing it – it really is a help to me too.

  5. Thank you for sharing. With love and blessings for your kindness, and your grief. Be blessed.

  6. Sarah Kafui says:

    Fiona,

    Thanks for your heart, honesty, and insight. It’s inspiring!

    As my mom was diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of the year– I really heard God speaking ‘rest’ over me as well. I knew that as I supported her through her treatment process that I was going to need to readjust life as I knew it, from relationships (building new and investing in old) to new adventures and experiences. I knew that in order to be there with her– I was going to need to rest with and in Jesus through it.

    It’s been huge for me to watch my mom grieve the loss of life as she knew it, of “normal”. It’s been a process and as you said, it’s been intensely unique and personal to her. I’ve loved to watch Jesus let her have all of those feelings with him and soothe her through each of them. To see Matthew 5:4 come to life in front of my eyes.

    You articulated this process beautifully. It brought tears to my eyes to read and have these truths reaffirmed in my heart.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Sweet Sarah, you have been such a comfort to me and I know to your mum too. The way she has walked this hard hard road has been beautiful even in the midst of the suffering. You are both precious to me.

  7. Fiona, I’ve been writing about grief this week on my blog after I lost my brother to an overdose last weekend.I haven’t been able to cry about it yet. In the outpouring of condolences from my tribe over at my blog, a friend wrote me and said that she felt led to pray for me about grieving what should have been, what could have been. And well, that broke the tear dam. Sometimes loss isn’t about what is, but about would could have been. Thanks for this.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Shelly, I am heartbroken for you. Yes, we grieve for what could have been, for the lost hopes and dreams and plans. Sending so much love and strength to you.

  8. Nicole Joshua says:

    Hi Fiona,

    I can’t say that I know eactly what you are going through, but I can relate to pain and grief. Six years ago, when I was shy of my 30th birthday, I was told by the doctors that my body had already gone through menopause and I would not be able to have children. There was so much grief. I grieved the loss of never experiencing the miracle of having a baby grow inside of me, of carrying a child conceived in love. I mourned every milestone celebration that I would never experience with a child. But slowly, as I trusted God and allowed him to guide my footsteps, joy returned in unexpected ways – new horizons of ministry opening up, opportunities to pursue and fulfill my love of studying and learning.

    Just recently, I was on the holiday of a lifetime, on a Mediterannean cruise with my husband and two friends. On the second day of being on the ship, I learned that my beloved cousin (whom I loved as an older sister) passes away suddenly, and I was hundreds of miles away, unable to be with my family. I too had to figure out how to mourn her death and enjoy the beautiful experiences of seeing places I have longed to see for many years.

    Grieving is a strange process. She died on the 24 June this year, and two months down the line I still get choked up when I think of her. But like life, grief is a journey, and I am learning what it means to walk though the valley of the shadow of death with God’s comfort giving me the strength to keep walking. I am learning that the best way to get through every day is to be true to the emotions that are surfacing and to let them be, to fully feel them and allow them to ebb and flow as needed.

    May God continue to carry you through this your grief.

    Nicole

    • fiona lynne says:

      “to fully feel them”, yes. Grief is a journey for sure, and a long one for many of us, with different twists and turns. I’m so glad you’re learning to rely on God’s comfort as you walk: “I will fear no evil for you are with me”…

Trackbacks

  1. […] guest posting at SheLoves Magazine today, bringing my own thoughts on their monthly theme of REST. Will you follow me over […]

  2. […] I wrote a little more about our miscarriage experience in August over at She Loves Magazine, “When God sits with you”, about how I found Rest in God in our […]

  3. […] morning not long ago, I woke up early. And I made a choice to stay awake to the hurt, knowing that was the best way to receive the […]

  4. […] I wrote a little more about our miscarriage experience in August over at She Loves Magazine, “When God sits with you”, about how I found Rest in God in our grief. […]

  5. […] guest posting at SheLoves Magazine today, bringing my own thoughts on their monthly theme of REST. Will you follow me over there? […]

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