Pictures of Grace
Some things in life just don’t make sense to me.
I don’t understand why some mothers kill their children and others who love theirs unconditionally lose them in a tragic accident? Why can teenagers conceive on the first try and others try for years unsuccessfully? Why does one woman want a child so badly and yet another wishes away the opportunity because it’s inconvenient?
It seems as if the economies of scale or laws of the universe are off some how. As I think about these things, due to an email from a friend today, an Oprah show I saw, and news about my cousin I am drawn back to at time in my life where rhetoric I preached my entire life had to grow legs.
I got an email this morning from a dear friend. Over the years I have watched her survive a very unhealthy relationship, struggle to end it, find the love of her life, get married and try unsuccessfully for two years to have a baby. I remember the first time she told me was pregnant and then only two months later she miscarried.
At 37 one of her deepest desires is to be a mother, but that isn’t going so well. First the problem was finding the right guy, now it’s physical problems. Her email today informed us that she just had her second miscarriage from a tubal pregnancy that ruptured. She lost the baby and the fallopian tube. As her friend I try to ride the roller coaster with her but I can’t even begin to understand the pain she feels. Yet I wonder, why is this so hard for her? Why is she, who would be a perfect mother, having such a hard time?
I watched Oprah last week when she interviewed Jessica Coleman. She is currently serving a six year term for killing her infant son right after birth. She was 16 at the time. She’d hid her pregnancy and gave birth in the toilet. We’ll never know if he was born alive or or not, but she stabbed him in the chest anyway, put him in a duffle bag and hid him in her closet. Her boyfriend then put rocks in the bag and threw him in a quarry. Why would she do that? Why can’t my friend have a baby when a 16 year old who doesn’t want hers gets to decide to kill it?
My dad got a call in the middle of the night from my cousin who was sobbing because she just found out that her 14-year old daughter was pregnant. Their home isn’t a stable one. Her daughter’s father isn’t a part of her life and they can trace back the probable time of conception to the week when her grandmother died. She was just looking for comfort and love. Now her innocence is gone. Her life is irrevocably changed.
Her grandfather, wants her to abort but my cousin refuses. She said that it would just compound the mistake. I think she’s right, even if the baby goes away her baby was already a mother. Now the family will rally around her, berate her for the stupid mistake and yet still be there for her. My cousin will end up raising another child. Her daughter will struggle to finish school. Her life won’t be carefree. She’ll have to get a job, go on welfare and the cycle continues. Will her child face the same fate?
I know the answers to these dilemmas are never found in asking why questions. I need to ask what I can do for my friend or my cousin? How can I pray differently? Where can I serve her best? What is God teaching me through this whole thing?
I realize however that I can’t push this conversation out there to them and that far away from me. I am taken back to my life seven years ago. I believed so many lies about who I was and what I deserved in life. I thought I was unlovable and worthless. So I convinced myself that I would be made whole in a relationship and that I had to give in and have sex to get him to stay. I ended up feeling more lonely, empty and worthless that I did before. It culminated in my own pregnancy scare.
For a few weeks I was left with my own thoughts. I had a million scenarios in my head. I have to admit that the first thought that crossed my mind was an abortion. I just wanted the whole experience to go away. I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen. At 24 I was afraid to tell my friends or family. I didn’t want to admit to them the type of person I was becoming. I thought I could continue to hide the double life I had been living.
Then I realized this was my mistake and didn’t need to make it worse. I was forced to really put personal thought and action to something I was told to believe my entire life. If I was so afraid and ashamed at 24 what would I have done at 16 or 14? Can I really judge Jessica Coleman? How can I be angry at my cousin’s daughter? I am just grateful that I did not succomb to my family’s patterns of dysfunction. For me it was just realization that I had a lot of work to do. I had to stop, be honest and decide that I wanted to live differently. It’s all about finding grace.
It took me a long time to do that. It was a journey to be able to recognize and receive love shown by those around me. It was a process to figure out why I felt that way. I had a lot to learn about who God is, how he works and how he saw me. I had to get a personal picture of grace for me. It was once I received it that I could extend it to others. I can’t give away what I don’t have.
In the end I realized that every situation is opportunity for God’s grace and redemption. He reaches in to touch us where we are. He sits with us in the pain, confusion, and loneliness. He embraces us with his unconditional love, heals the deepest hurt and helps us become hope for someone else.
I don’t have to find the right words to share with my friend or cousin I just have to be present. Our journey’s aren’t the same, even the pain isn’t the same but we have to be Jesus with skin on for others. We give from what God gives so freely to us when we are honest, humble and at the end of what we think we can do for ourselves.