I said yes, not really knowing why I was saying yes except that I was wanting to go to the college thing that night anyway. Now let me reassure you, I am not wanting to fit in with the college crowd or wear bump-its so that my hair sticks up a foot high over my head. I am interested in sharing my experiences in the hopes that I might encourage some of the women in that age group.
In a really neat way, I heard about this new ministry within the college ministry. It's something the interns and college ministry staff are wanting to put together to encourage college kids to find mentors and develop relationships with them. Well, I have been wanting to do that and God pretty much put me in the same Starbucks as a group of women who were discussing this very ministry, before it had even started. Had Jacob not been with me, I doubt I would have spoken up, so he did for me. He interrupted their chatter and told them that I was wanting to be a part of their ministry and could I get some info on it. :) I, of course, am trying not to turn red in the face or sweat through my layers of maternity tops.
They were really sweet and one of the women, an intern at the church, got my info and we went to coffee a few weeks later. She told me all about the ministry and how I could be a part of it. I went to their first meeting in January and really enjoyed it.
Last night was their second night and they asked me to share my love story with God. Wow, I feel so humbled by another opportunity to share my story and Molly's too. After working on my talk all day long I decided it was good enough to share with the world as well.
So.. here's what I said to them:
My love story with the Lord
When I think of a love story, my mind overflows with word pictures of: happily ever after, in love, perfect harmony, and days spent in pure bliss. Anything with the word love next to it creates images in our minds of pure happiness, joy, delight, and content hearts.
Here’s another set of words:
Heart-wrenching, tears pouring down your cheeks, a broken heart, dark valleys, great unknowns, unanswered questions, and letting go of what you hold so dear.
Do those words create images of a love story? Does that sound like something you long for and want to be a part of? Does that sound like something a loving God would weave into your love story?
No one likes pain or welcomes it with open arms. We prefer comfort and enjoyment to pain and suffering. And yet, as I think through my own personal love story with God, I see both beauty and suffering at the same time. I see a broken heart and delight, tears and joy, dark valleys and happily ever after.
How can that be? Well, let me tell you a story of one of the greatest people I have had the privilege of knowing.
Her name is Molly Ann. She accomplished more in her life than some ever will. She brought hearts together. She changed lives. She brought hope and light to many. She was remarkable.
And the best part about Molly: She was my daughter.
Since I don’t have time to tell you every bit of her story, here are a few things I want you to know about her.
Molly was born June 13th, 2008 with a rare brain aneurism, something we didn’t know about when I was pregnant with her. It’s so rare that there are only 6 cases reported each year in the US. Looking at her, you would have had no idea that anything was wrong. She was perfectly formed and beautiful, with steely blue eyes, and dark hair.
She lived for 7 wonderful days and fulfilled her life purpose beautifully. We made some great memories while she was alive. We got to give her a bath, took a few thousand pictures of her, and held her multiple times. She was, and still is, one of the greatest gifts my husband and I have ever received.
She drew me closer to the throne of God without uttering a word. As a result of her life and death, I have experienced a love from God that I have never known before. Holding her as she was ushered into the presence of God was the holiest moment I have ever experienced. I knew that in her death, God was still holding us tightly and loving us.
My love story is one of great highs and deep lows. Before I had Molly, there wasn’t much in my life that I had experienced that really drove me to my knees before God. I experienced break-ups, mistakes, letdowns, disappointments, and frustrations, but never had I experienced a pain like this.
About a month before Molly died, I remember hearing about the death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter, Maria. I recall thinking about what it would be like if we lost our daughter. “I can’t imagine going through that.” “How would we handle losing a son or daughter?” I also thought to myself, "well that won't happen to us."
I know I prayed on several occasions for God to use me in a mighty way, that he would give me a love story that I was proud of and that I could share with the world. I wanted a ministry and without knowing it, I was about to get one.
Going into labor at 41 weeks, I had no idea how our lives were about to change. In the midst of tests, questions, tubes and wires all over Molly’s precious body, holding her close, and then letting her go, God was continually weaving our love story together, wrapping me up in security and affection.
Molly’s story is heart-wrenching and it often brings tears to my eyes when I tell it. Our hearts broke the week of her life and the days that followed. We could not believe we were just meeting our new daughter and saying good-bye all at the same time. Our world shattered as we both entered into the dark valley of grief and asked many questions of the Lord. At the same time, I also experienced an incredible peace that surpassed my own understanding. I found hope in the life and death of my daughter. As painful as it was to watch my daughter die, it was a holy place and one that has altered the course of my life forever.
You might not think that we were experiencing God’s love after Molly died. It can be difficult to see how a love story could have death as a part of it.
Yet, I must tell you that God can love us through great pain and suffering. God was not afraid to hurt and cause suffering, because He loved us so much. We think we cannot experience pain and love at the same time, but the truth is, we did experience the love of God while we were experiencing such deep pain. Having to let our daughter die did not stop God from showing his love to us. His love continues even when we’re in pain. I believe that we have a mistaken notion that we can’t experience both at the same time.
There’s a verse that I want to share with you. Something you might have heard before, but this time I hope that you’ll hear it with fresh perspective:
John 16:33 “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
The four words I want to highlight here are “YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE”. If you’ve never been told this before, please hear it now. You will have trouble. That is a promise from God. Doing everything right and making all the right decisions doesn’t mean you won’t experience suffering in one form or another. If you can accept that truth now you won’t be completely shocked when pain, suffering, and trouble happen to you.
Less than a year after Molly died, we experienced another tragedy. We miscarried a little boy at 14 weeks gestation. People all around us could not believe we were going through yet another loss. I could not believe they were so shocked. And yet it makes sense, with all the comfort we like to give ourselves, it’s easy to see how we can be shocked when others or ourselves go through suffering.
One thing that I have learned as a result of losing two kids is that there are no guarantees in this life. There is no promise that I’ll wake up tomorrow, that I’ll have more kids, that my husband and I will live to be old and gray.
As you can tell, I’m pregnant again. This time, I’m having twins. Twin girls. When something difficult happens to you, you begin to wonder if you won’t experience the same thing again. I’ve struggled with fear and worry in this pregnancy and sometimes I share it with others and sometimes I do not.
When I have shared it, some have said to me that everything will be fine, that this time I’ll bring home my babies, that I will for sure have what I have wanted because “you’ve been through enough suffering.” My response is that there is no “enough suffering” until we go to be with Jesus. There is no promise that I will endure X amount of suffering and then the rest of my life I’ll get what I deserve because I suffered well. No way. I have a choice in how I respond to suffering and pain.
You know what, I love my life and I love my relationship with God. He doesn’t owe me anything and yet he has given me so many things, things I do not deserve.
I am so thankful that God took Molly the way that he did. God has given me so many ways to minister to other moms who have lost kids, or who have never lost kids but have a renewed perspective after hearing Molly’s story. I am so thankful for this story! What a blessing that I get to share with others the deep gratitude that I have for my Savior for giving me a daughter, even if only for 7 days.
What sort of love story do you want God to have with you?
How has your love story been different than what you thought it would be like?
How will you respond when your love story doesn’t go quite like you thought it would?