Chucking It All Away...

I’ve put off this post for a very long time.  It’s not a subject that naturally flows.  Besides, I don’t know anyone other than me, who’s had a strong desire to pick up a statue of baby Jesus from a manger and chuck it out a window.

Well,  more like pick it up and chuck it at a closed window, just to get the satisfaction of both sailing a baby Jesus throw a window and hearing the glass break.

Why?

Because Christmas has been triggering for me in the past.  And I don’t just mean the typical family stressors that creep up on many of us at this time of year.

No – my desire to chuck a baby Jesus statue has a lot more to do with miscarriages than holiday mayhem.

I’ve heard from some of my friends who’ve experienced miscarriages say that they’ve avoided going to church during the Christmas season because it’s too triggering.  I didn’t understand what they meant at first.  But with each successive miscarriage, I started to.

By the fifth miscarriage, I was ready to ask them where the nearest escape route was and how to go about creating it.

But I couldn’t do it.  I was the pastor’s wife.   

There’s no escaping that.

Each year where a miscarriage had occurred brought a deeper downward spiral of depression than the time before.  It’s like I could never get back to the “top” from where I spiraled down from.  I could pick myself up and get to a certain point, only to miscarry again and spiral further down into depression. 

Miscarriage one happened two months before my mom died from a two-year battle with cancer. I found it hard to do anything that year, let alone keep my head above water emotionally.  

My saving grace at that point was that my husband was not a pastor yet – so I could gracefully bow out of any holiday plans, parties, and pageants.

By miscarriage three, the doctors were giving my husband and I DNA tests to see if a problem could be pinpointed.

Tests had answers, yet results about trying or not trying again were inconclusive.  We left the hospital puzzled and poor.

Miscarriage four came on the day of my dad’s funeral.  It seemed that he decided he couldn’t live without mom, so he drank himself to death.   So on the day of his funeral, I found myself on the floor of the bathroom that morning…

…and buried two bodies that afternoon.

Miscarriage five was the worst.  My doctor thought he found the “cure” to help me sustain a pregnancy and boost my HCG levels since they were tanking.  I took a medication that kept me on permanent PMS.  I told my husband Brent that if we survived this still intact, the result would be glorious.

Our small country church celebrated with us, and prayed for us.  It seemed to be the perfect year to be pregnant too.  Several in our own congregation were either pregnant, or had just delivered, or come from a sister church with children who needed nursery service.   It got to be so crowded in our little nursery, that Brent and a couple of others had to take down a wall and move a Sunday School class in order to enlarge our nursery area.

And now – he and I would get to contribute our own small bundle of joy to it!

After the construction work was complete, more nursery bedding was needed, so Brent decided to make the trip into town to get supplies for the nursery.  An hour after Brent left- I started throwing up and hemorrhaging.

While Brent was happily picking out baby accessories miles away...

… I was losing ours.

By the time it was over, my home looked like an aftermath of a battlefield, I’m soaked in my own blood, ambulance services were almost called for, and a friend had to come to my aid and assist me so I would not end up fainting and pass out on the kitchen floor.

I’ll never forget the look on Brent’s face when he came home and saw me. 

That was late summer.

By that Christmas, I could hardly contain the grief that spiraled into anger.  I couldn’t find ways to escape Christmas.  Everyone expected me to be emotionally “over it”, and snap back to my jovial self – as time heals wounds, right?  What makes anyone think that three to four months is enough time to “heal” from anything?

Did I say everyone expected me to be emotionally over it?

Oh my bad.

I meant to say that **I** expected myself to be emotionally “over it”.   I expected myself to pick up and force my way into having a jovial Christmas spirit.  After all, it’s hard to be a Holly and be a Grinch at the same time.

When the spiraling thoughts of depression would threaten me, I’d just shove it down in the pressure cooker I called my heart.  Inwardly I seethed.  Outwardly I looked benevolent.
But that was the year I lost it, emotionally.

I couldn’t escape Christmas and the bevy of songs surrounding BABY Jesus.  Baby Jesus in the hay, Baby Jesus smiling, Baby Jesus listening to the drummer boy’s song, Baby Jesus sleeping peacefully in his mother’s arms.

Baby, baby, baby everywhere.

Then there were the actual babies.  The ones now occupying the expanded nursery.  The cute cherubs in oversized robes and crooked wings and adorable faces of toddlers on all fours dressed as farm animals and sheep.  

Parents were talking pictures. 

Kids were wound up from Christmas sugar cookies and jumping on chairs and running and weaving between crowds of people.  

Some parents were oblivious to the chaos, chatting away with each other.

It was a sea of noise and glitter and terrycloth and fake fur.

And I lost it.

I yelled at the kids to get downstairs NOW!

I yelled at the chattering parents to control their kids and get downstairs NOW!

I gripped out tiny tots who were fixing to put on a play about how happy it is to have Baby Jesus in our lives and I made them cry, and then sent them on stage to perform – acting out the joy of the angels and shepherds when they learned about Baby Jesus being born. 

Do you know how hard it is to act happy when you have tears in your eyes from being yelled at?

I was so angry at myself:

Angry that it came out of nowhere.
Angry for feeling trapped when I didn’t know why I felt that way.
Angry for feeling angry at parents and kids who were jovial instead of serious.
What was wrong with me?
Why did I behave this way?
Why am I lashing out?
Why do I not want to stop?

That night after the last of the parents cart off a now happy sticky sleepy kid holding his bag of Christmas candy, I start picking up trash and stray tinsel that tried to hitch a ride out of church but only made it as far as sanctuary door.

I turn and see a tiny manger scene.  One the church put out every year.

And that’s when I felt it.

The angry urge to pick up the statue of Baby Jesus in the hay and throw it as hard as I could at a window.  I wanted this baby as far away from me as possible.  If I heard one more song about BABY Jesus, one more Bible verse about BABY Jesus- well anything about BABY Jesus, I’m going to lose it.  I’m so SICK of BABIES thrown in my face.

ESPECIALLY Baby Jesus.

And I’m so scared that I’m going to hell for feeling that way.  And even more scared I was going to hell because I felt justified in this anger and justified in wanting to sail Baby Jesus right out the window and right out of my life.

And I could not stop myself from feeling this.

I wish I could say that I prayed or found a scripture that gave me consolation and comfort, the anger subsided and suddenly all was right with the world.

I did not.

At all.

For a long time.

But…
…I didn’t chuck a Baby Jesus statue out the window either.

So I consider that a victory.

Time is a blur, so I can’t tell you the moment I had my “’Come-to-Jesus-Meeting’-Throw-Down with God” – I can only tell you that I had it.

It came as a result of reading this scripture in a devotional:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, [f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16

I got stuck on the words “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize…but one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are…”

A surge of anger swept over me.  I might not be able to chunk a Baby Jesus out a window, but I sure could throw my Bible at wall.

So I did.

As I watched it slide down the wall and crumple to the floor, I screamed:

You KNOW what it’s like to be me?  You KNOW?  How can YOU empathize for me??  

GOD – You have a Son!  You always have!  John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word and that he’s always been in the beginning with You from before Day One!  You’ve never been without Him in some kind of way – except when he was crucified and even that was for a little while!

Jesus wasn’t just your Son – the Bible says that he was the exact representation of You.  Jesus himself told Philip that to see him was to see You.  That’s why parents love it when they see their traits when they hold their newborn baby.  They coo over whose eyes the baby has, who’s long fingers, etc.  

Every human longs to see their traits passed down to their children.  It can’t be helped – and YOU have YOUR SON who represents You exactly and completely!

I'll NEVER have that.

You’ve NEVER been childless.  You’ve never been barren.  How can you empathize?  You do NOT know what it is like to be me! 

You have him breathing in Heaven, and You had Him breathing life on earth as a man.  I haven’t even had a son or daughter breathe life on this earth for one second.  How could You possibly know what it’s like to be me?  Or to know how I feel?!??  

You’re GOD.  You are the “Our Father”.  I’m NOT a mother and I guess You’re letting me know with losing all these babies that I need to take the hint that I’m too screwed up to be one.”

I buckle to the floor and sob uncontrollably.  What is the use of loving a God who does not understand me?

It’s hopeless.
****

As I lay on the floor shivering from my soaked shirt and sticky wet strands of hair, I felt Jesus whisper in my heart –

 “I do understand you, Holly.  I know what it’s like to have empty arms.  I AM both Son of God AND Son of Man.  While I walked this earth as a Man, I knew heartache and loneliness and longing.”

Longing?  Really?

As I laid still and thought about it- I pictured the man Jesus walking with his friends and their wives.  Going to their weddings.  Rejoicing with them over the radiant bride and beaming groom.  And while they went on to their new home, Jesus went to whatever home happened to be greeting and hosting the Rabbi for that night.

No place to lay his head.

No place he called his home.

His friends had homes and families and chores and routines.  He had friends who were fathers working to hand down their trades to their sons – teaching them by working side by side; even as Jesus did when he learned carpentry from Joseph.

Jesus knew his purpose was far greater – but I’m sure it did not lessen the chill of the night; the lack of someone to snuggle with.  He was totally complete in the Father- but since he was bound in a physical body – it wasn’t the same.

He knew what it was like to feel the joy of a child’s arms slipping around his neck.  He was given no children of his own, but he laid his hands on dozens of other little ones to bless them and keep them in God’s care.

His hands on earth felt soft fuzzy heads and looked into the eyes of pure trust and love that only a little child can give.

But then they’d go with their families back to their own homes and all Jesus had to carry with him was the memory of how it felt to hug them and look into their eyes.  And then it was on to the next home to rest in – the next town to preach and heal in.  Over and over again.

No home. No routine. No simple family life.  No little arms filled with hugs day after day.  His purpose far greater – yet at the same time, he was denied the marital and parental joy that all mankind is allowed to experience one way or another on earth.

The Son of Man- a part of the world.

The Son of God – apart from the world.

Being the Son of God did not stop him from the temptations to dream of a different life – or to even BEG for a different life and purpose.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus begged the Father THREE times for a different life, a different purpose.  He never wanted to throw me or anyone away from salvation to God.  He just wanted to sail himself out that window. 

Chuck Baby Jesus and the manger and being the Lamb of God right out the window.  Throw it away – give him some other task, please.  Don’t make him go through being the baby with a sacrificial purpose.  The pain is too great.  The cost is His life. 

He’s sobbing in the garden, his hair and shirt soaked with his tears and his blood. Let there be some other way.  Any other way.  He didn’t want to be The Way anymore.
And yet…

…he kept coming back to one sentence every time.  “Never less, not my will – but Yours.”

Did Jesus know what it was like to experience a barrenness of His own?

Yes.

He was tempted in every way we are:

·         Tempted to give up

·         Tempted to feel resentment

·         Tempted to lash out in anger when wounded

·         Tempted to fall apart when betrayed

Tempted in every way and more than I will ever experience in my lifetime.

I never thought about the struggles with loneliness or desire.  I think that I get so busy thinking about the deity of Jesus, that it somehow blankets the 100% humanity of Jesus. 

I just kept seeing him placing his hands on small fuzzy heads and petting them.  It can’t be helped.  All babies have hair that is so soft and fine, it’s the sweetest and most beautiful thing ever.

Did he know what it was to feel the physical effects of being barren like a woman?

No.

But did he know what it was like to feel the ache anyway?

Yes.

Did he ever experience a miscarriage?

No.

Did he know what it was like to hemorrhage and bleed out?

Yes.

And that’s the thought that has occupied my mind ever since.   

I still haven’t received a counter to my “You have a son!” yet.  Maybe it’s because God chose a different route for me to have the son and daughter I have today.  Children who need me.
And I who need them.

No matter what – having them in my life, didn’t recolor the miscarriages I went through.  I still get triggered by Baby Jesus’ – and oddly enough, it’s more now when my children are older, than when they were very young.

God doesn’t give me a pat answer, or magically take the strong emotions and make them die down.  It is what it is.  I’m going to get triggered. But I know who to run to with boldness when I do.

Baby Jesus statues are safe this year.

But I still don’t own a manger.


It’s a work in progress…

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Feel free to comment, and God bless you! ~ Holly

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