August 14th. Changing Expectations & Redefining Family

In the past, August 14 has come around and I’ve been so busy I’ve forgotten. It’s a date my husband and I remember well, but I don’t mark it on the calendar. I’m not sure if he does. Usually when I’ve forgotten a mixture of emotions sneak up on me over a period of days. When I remember the date I know exactly where my feelings are coming from.

Sometimes prone to cry when I’m alone, wondering what life would have been with my son, noticing babies more than usual, asking myself if I will ever know what it’s like to be the mother of a little boy. I definitely notice Moms playing with little boys in the park or pushing them through the grocery in carts. Sweet moments to peer at from the outside. I usually feel joy and grief.

I can honestly say I’ve never felt a hint of anger or jealousy at what other families have. Some have said I should because “it isn’t fair”
Maybe it isn’t, but I have no power to change how my life events happened.
What I think and how I feel? That is my decision.

I’m happy for families that cannot comprehend the sadness Daniel and I carry. It’s always there, but not always in the forefront of our thoughts. We have happy moments and new things to look forward to. Grief doesn’t affect every moment of our lives, but it remains. What happened with our two boys isn’t our entire story even though the bitter realities will be part of it as long as we live. Why would we wish that for anyone else? Being able to want blessing and wholeness for other families is a result of God’s work in our minds and our perspectives on life. How thankful we are for that!

It is always better to embrace the full range of emotions that come with life changing events than to feel bitterness or nothing at all. Easier said than lived. Around one year ago someone recommended a book by Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I really clung to one truth in particular— when I shut off negative emotions I run the risk of shutting off positive ones as well, like joy.

A little over a year ago we came back to the USA. I was stuck in a rut— self protecting after another miscarriage and other difficult circumstances. I wanted to live without feeling anything. I needed a safe cocoon. For a time that was ok in order to get stronger. Until I had the reserves to deal with some things. But I couldn’t stay there.

When I was ready, I began learning what it meant to live as my whole self again instead of shutting down parts of life I didn’t want to deal with. Came out of survival mode slowly. Sorting through difficult feelings with God’s word and a mature, believing friend was the beginning of deep healing for myself and a balm for other hurting people. Especially when it came to miscarriage, pregnancy loss and other experiences our family walked through.

So how am I doing now?

Still learning, but much better than a year ago. Willing to pursue God in my life, marriage, and parenting again. Willing to engage instead of keeping myself and my family in bubble wrap to be “safe”, because life isn’t safe. But the essence of who I am will live eternally safe because I’ve been reconciled to God through Christ. So I don’t want to waste any days I’ve been given on earth. I’ll try to make wise decisions and take what comes, but I’m definitely going to live with my whole heart.

I’m thirty-six and have miscarried twice while obeying everything my doctors recommended. Daniel and I are learning to come together again after these losses. Lots of difficult conversations. We are not sure what expanding our family will look like going forward or if it can even happen. So many decisions to make. Learning again what Biblical love and commitment look like when an important part of life worked out differently than we’d hoped.

There is no perfect formula or predictable manual for it. It’s something we started wading through together and we’re both committed to continue. Again, easier said than lived, but experiencing commitment, love, and marriage the way God wants us to know it— worth it. That’s a different blog post—about marriage and miscarriage— so enough on that topic for now.

I’m not sure how August 14th and the days surrounding it will be for me this year. I’m usually not noticeably despondent or upset. I’ll probably feel gratitude for how we’ve changed, grown, and become more compassionate. Thankful to be with my daughter, but missing my sons. Maybe some tears and wishing things were different— that my life was happening in a different place and time with a family of four or five. But it’s not.

My expectations for marriage, family, and myself have changed. And I want to accept the reality God has allowed/ given to me and thrive in it. I want to be unapologetically who I am in the life I find myself living and see what God has planned for it— however all of that works. I don’t expect to fully understand any of what has happened, but I’m willing to trust Him again. I think that’s what matters going forward.

I want God to redefine “family” for me— to help me embrace and enjoy what it will look like in my life. I’m not an “in the box” kind of person so the idea of God redefining something in His truth, with infinitely better terms than anyone in the world can, gives me hope.

If Daniel and I cross your mind on August 14th, the day we lost Judah, pray for us according to what I have written today. Not for your own desires or thoughts to define what our family can be, but God’s.

©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
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-Look at the Miscarriage category for my family’s personal stories & thoughts on Helping Men & Women through Miscarriage.

-From a fellow writer: Hope Honors Loss, RJThesman.net

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