I’ve been mulling over an idea for quite some time now. What if, the stories we’ve collected through our genes, our failures, our triumphs, our “I’ll give it a shot” moments, our daily-grind minds; our stories of love, of heartache, of regret, of loss, of joy; times shared, times spent in solitude; all connected us instead of dividing us? What if we could tell those stories and offer hope that was found, relationships that were restored, souls that were redeemed? Welcome, friends, to this space I’d like to share- with you.
It’s far too daring a task to ask another for their stories without first being willing to share one of your own. Fear sits in the corner of the unknown, waiting to be elevated through judgement and insecurity. You won’t find that here. You are welcome to connect in; to let go and hear the words you might need to hear. Maybe you’ll be encouraged to tell someone one of your stories after reading one of these. My friends, I’ll go first.
A few nights ago I freaked out on Eric. The girls and I were about halfway done with dinner as he walked through the door from work. After giving him a moment to settle in, I left the dinner table to meet him at the counter where he was dining on scraps and opening mail. And like all thoughtful and sane wives, I began telling him about the day. No detail too small. No rabbit trail undefined. Men want all the details, ladies! Write that down. As anxious as he was, I’m sure, to hear about my chiropractor appointment, Izzy’s attitude before school, and the 16 toddler tantrums between Finley and Abigail that took up most of our afternoon, he glared up at me, chips crumbling out of his hand and into his mouth, stopping me with the suggestion to “Stop thinking that …” … well, I’m not quite sure what ended that sentence because I rolled my eyes, closed my ears and my heart to him as I strutted angrily back to my seat at the kid’s table. What was his problem? Why couldn’t he just listen? Why couldn’t I just say all the things and dump all the emotion onto him while he absorbed it all, processed quickly and affirmed everything in me? Am I asking for too much here people?
About five minutes later I found myself crying on my bed. What had become of me? I went from zero to crazy in 300 seconds or less. From our bedroom I heard footsteps rushing down the hall and then heard Eric’s voice, warning the girls that “Mommy needs a minute”. Oh my goodness, friends. He gets me! All of the sudden I felt free to feel. He wasn’t charging me with irrationality, though he was certainly thinking it. He didn’t come in and demand my presence or give me a time frame to get over the crazy. And in that very moment, I kid you not, it was like the very whisper of God sang in my ear, “you can feel it, Em”.
You see, I would have been celebrating my first child’s 9th birthday this week. But I made the choice to abort that baby and it remains my deepest regret. I made that choice as my life was in mere shambles of destructive patterns. The baby wasn’t the only thing I lost that morning in June. The freedom to feel remorse or loss, anger or grief departed from me, replaced by the perpetual heaviness of shame. I put my energy into proving myself to people. Proving my faith, proving my value, pleading for a seat at the table of community. With every pregnancy during these years of marriage, I felt like I couldn’t really express how joyful I was because I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t deserve these babies because I gave up my first. There was so much hiding in the pain and regret of that loss that I never expressed how difficult it was to feel like I couldn’t feel. Fast forward to the other night as I sobbed all of my crazy into my king-sized pillow. It was 9.5 years of emotion rushing out and oh!, the presence of Peace was so very comforting.
What an awful lie it is to ever believe that we do not deserve the freedom to feel our own emotions, despite the actions that brought us there.
Later that evening, after the kids were asleep, Eric and I snuggled in on the couch to watch another episode of The Goldbergs. About three episodes in, I turned and apologized for my attitude earlier in the evening. For the first time, I explained what this time of the year means to me; that I feel such loss and grief to know I would have loved the hell out of that babe. He listened and then cried with me as I ugly cried all over his favorite work t-shirt. Eric then said these words to me, and I echo them to you, dear friends, “You are forgiven and you have every right to feel this.” Every right. The emotions are mine. The experience was mine. The loss is mine. I can be sad about it. I can grieve that life and desire to hold my child in Heaven. I can feel it every year that passes. I can. And so can you. You can feel all those feels. You can ugly cry into a pillow or a shoulder and feel all of it. You deserve the freedom to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and fall into the security of Jesus.
Freedom is for you.