Good Gifts

There was an overwhelming tension of emotions as we pulled away from the hospital this week. Just five months ago I was leaving another hospital with my husband. Tears streamed down my face both times. On this occasion, I was leaving with my baby, last time I left without my child. The paradox of grief and joy came crashing down all around us.

Joy and grief are not exclusive and they are also not transactional. Joy does not remedy grief and grief does not overwhelm joy.

I have been at a loss for words the last few days. I know that I don’t have to explain myself or my emotions to anyone. I’ve said before and now say with utmost certainty. Joy and grief are not exclusive and they are also not transactional. Joy does not remedy grief and grief does not overwhelm joy. We are overcome with joy at the arrival of our newest daughter, Lucy. She is a heritage from the Lord and a blessing to us all. [1] Lucy has been wonderfully and fearfully made to the glory of a good Father. [2] The sovereignty of God, his timing and plan is perfect. I’m also grieved at the circumstances surrounding Lucy’s arrival. She is welcomed into a hurting family, feelings of inadequacy and a missed opportunity to know her big sister. It is joy and grief, together.

I have so much joy and pure thanksgiving that Jane called me mommy. To know her was to love her. The nearly two and half years of her life was a blessing to myself and many others. I rejoice that Jane is with Jesus. She is in the presence of our Savior and I’m so thankful that she will never know the pain many people on this earth face, including the pain we are experiencing as her family. I’m also overcome with grief at the loss of my little girl. We have missed her every moment since February 24th and I doubt that will ever change. I’m heartbroken I can’t see her, hear her or hold her. I can’t watch her grow and meet milestones. I can’t watch her hold the baby sister she was so excited to meet. It is both joy and grief, together.

Anticipating Lucy’s arrival felt overwhelming. The heaviness of the known and unknown was extreme. I felt anxious about the questions that would come up at the hospital, “How many children do you have?”, “What are the ages of your kids at home?”, etc. We received all the expected questions, we experienced hard moments and unanticipated emotions. We also received so much grace. God’s hand was over every part of Lucy’s birth story. His redemption and grace isn’t lost on me. My nurses were gracious and encouraging. My doctors love Jesus and have offered an abundance of support. Robert could be with me at the hospital and the labor and delivery process went as smooth as possible. Lucy is healthy and looks like a beautiful combination of all of her siblings, while maintaining a distinct “Lucy” look. God is good and He is worthy to be praised. The Lord gives. [3]

I have now been given the blessed opportunity to leave the hospital five different times with five different babies. But having left the hospital just one time without my baby has changed me forever. I watched my three biggest kids excitement as they met their new baby sister. The joy is pronounced. I also watched as they lovingly told their baby sister about the big sister she wouldn’t get to meet. “Her name was Jane and she would have loved you.” “She would have thought you were her babydoll.” “There is a big picture outside your room, so you can see her.” “We will tell you all about Jesus and Jane.” The beauty and blessing of new life amplifies the harshness and bitterness of death. But God is good and He is worthy to be praised. The Lord takes away. [3]

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

Job 1:21b

I’ve been told, “It’s ok to be happy.” I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not sure that we understand the meaning of words in our society. Happiness is dependent on circumstances. While I am very happy to be home with Lucy, there is plenty about my circumstances that are not happy. Joy, on the other hand, is from the Lord. [4] It does not depend on circumstance, but on the One who provides it. I can have unbelievable joy in the midst of heartache. I know, because I have experienced it. Grief doesn’t have to be bad. Grief is a beautiful reminder of the brokenness of the current world we live in. Grief points us to our only hope, Jesus Christ. Grief has taken away false comfort, and for that, I will forever be grateful.

It’s complicated, it’s beautiful, it’s hard and it can be holy. I don’t expect others to understand or relate. To be fair, I still don’t understand most days. Here is what I do know, God is good. God is faithful. God is righteous and just. God’s ways are higher than mine. God gave me Jane and God gave me Lucy.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

All of our children bear a first name that we simply liked and a middle name of a family member. Their mother, father or a great grandparent. Jane’s name mean’s God is gracious. We have seen the truth of that through Jane’s life and even in her death. Lucy received her middle name from her sister Jane. Grace. We have already seen God’s grace in Lucy’s life too and we expect no less for the rest of her ordained days.

Welcome to the world Lucy. You are loved by many, but most importantly, you are loved by your Creator.

[1] Psalm 127:3 [2] Psalm 139:14 [3] Job 1:21 [4] Psalm 4:7

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