Friday, May 1, 2009

Commas, Periods, and Everything In Between

There's this saying that goes, "Don't put a period where God has placed a comma." I forget who is credited for having said it. Truth be known, this little saying used to bring me some sort of comfort when faced with life's disappointments, because I would just think to myself, "Ok. So maybe God's response is 'not yet' instead of 'no.'"

Now, this little statement just confuses me. Lately, I have been wondering, "How do I really know which one it is?"

After my miscarriage back in November 2007, I felt like it was a comma. Though heartbroken over the loss of that child, particularly after having been told that everything looked great with that pregnancy, I could wrap my head around the fact that a first trimester miscarriage is more common than many people may realize. I found a way to somehow be okay with having fallen into that lovely 20% of people who miscarry in the first trimester. And so, I felt like God was putting a comma on our desire to start a family. "Not yet... but one day..."

Sitting here on the other side of having birthed and buried a child, I am just not sure that I know any more. Was Isaac another comma? A period? And what of his life... a period? Or a comma?

I had a conversation recently with someone about how after my miscarriage, it wasn't too difficult to get back to the "When we have children..." thing; but now, I find myself saying "If..." The whole having our own children at home to raise no longer feels like a guarantee, and to be honest, that's knocked me a bit off kilter. Perhaps it's the realization that we were the ones who found the 1/10,000 odds; or, perhaps it's that I am learning more about God's sovereignty and who I am in light of it.

Because you see, I am not sure that whether it's a comma or a period totally matters. Whether Isaac's life here on Earth is viewed as a period because it is over, or as a comma because the time between now and when I see him again in heaven is a "not yet" doesn't change the fact that he's not here.

What has changed is my regard for our desire to start a family in light of God's sovereignty... wondering if I am or will ever be okay if at this point, he had placed a period on that desire.

The honest answer is, I don't know.

I would like to think that we've had our fair share of commas and periods, and we're due for a few rounds of exclamation points (in a good way!) if you know what I mean! But it doesn't work that way. There isn't a checklist for having suffered and endured certain life difficulties so that the next time, everything works out just fine.

Because God is sovereign. And while I still find myself completely confused at times about what He is up to, I know He is in control... even when I don't like what He has allowed. Even when it feels like our lives have been punctuated with so many commas and periods lately while others have had exclamation point after exclamation point... He is sovereign.

I remember being on the elliptical at my gym, about 20-some weeks pregnant with Isaac, reading an article in People magazine about Steven Curtis Chapman and his family shortly after their daughter, Maria, had died. Steven said something in his interview with People that just really struck me. He said (and I am paraphrasing), "The only thing scarier than going through this with my faith, would be to go through it alone, cursing God."

So when the confusion sets in and life has been marked with punctuation I would rather not see... when I desire to trust Him even when I am afraid of what He may have for us... what is there to do?

Lay it at his feet.

Hebrews 4:14-16 says,

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
I guess the conclusion I have come to is that it doesn't really matter quite so much whether God has placed a comma or a period. What matters is to remember that He is sovereign, He is the same, and He can sympathize with us in our weaknesses and times of need. So we can go to Him, lay it all at His feet, and learn to trust and rest in who He is.
This is certainly not something I have perfected (don't let the cool punctuation anology from this English teacher fool you)! But I just feel like it's much easier to rest in knowing that when things feel out of control or don't make sense, that none of it is a surprise to God.

24 comments:

Devon said...

amen sister....

wish i knew about those commas and periods too but i know HE knows and i have to find rest in that.

Kelli said...

Infinite comfort in knowing that God never changes!! Praying in SC.

Marsha said...

I pray for you and your husband even though I've never met you face-to-face. Your trust in and love for God really shines a light for me to follow. I find you an amazing person who, though not knowing the answers of "why", has a remarkable faith in God. You encourage me. May God bless and keep you ~ You are truly a messenger of God & I know He is so in love with you.

threekidchaos said...

I'm sending this to my cousin who gave birth to her second stillborn son recently. She's also questioning whether this is a comma or a period. Thanks for an eloquent post.

Angela said...

Wow, Stacy, that was beautiful. I will be praying for your heart as you struggle with this.

Jaime said...

Hi, Stacy - I have been reading your blog for a little while now and am grateful to have found it. I had my second stillbirth in January and keeping faith and hope is a daily struggle. So many friends and family around me are having healthy babies and I wonder - why are they allowed to take it for granted that a pregnancy will end with a healthy baby?....why not me? I wonder daily what God has in store for me and wish I had the luxery of assuming things will turn out the way I want...I know better. :( Thank you for your courage and strenth. You are a good example to follow. You are in my prayers!

Carly K. said...

Stacey-

Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and praying for you.

Connor's Mom said...

Beautiful! My prayers are with you.

Another Staci

Daddy's Dream ~Mommy's Miracle said...

This was much needed for me today...Praying for you!

Summer Pendley said...

Beautifully written Stacy...

This is my first time commenting on your blog, although I've been a loyal follower since Isaac's passing last October. I am a friend of Ashly Tucker's.

Your analogy of commas VS. periods..and everything inbetween is relevant in many of life's circumstances...and, actually, this speaks to me now. Thank you for allowing God to use you through this extraordinary cirumstance that you and your husband are enduring day to day. With each blog post, I am enlightened and encouraged by your faith, strength, understanding, and overall perspective of Christ. You are an amazing woman...and, I look forward to seeing what God has planned for your family.

With that said, don't be afraid to say, "You know Lord, I DO want to be a mom..."

I always say to myself...IF I hold back from the Lord (because I don't want to seem selfish for asking for something), it's pretty silly b/c the Lord knows the desires of my heart anyway...so, I am being brutally honest with the Lord now...even, if he ends up putting me in my place..:)

Stay strong sister....

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Beautifully written...Praying for you as you rest in the arms of our sovereign Lord...there is comfort in knowing that no matter what we face, we do not face it alone...He is with us...I agree with Mr. Chapman.

Praying, sweet friend...
Kelly

Kayla said...

The last line of your post is so comforting. I read it and immediately felt a little more at ease with the turbulence that is currently taking place in our lives. Thank you for putting your heart into your posts.

The Pifer's said...

Hi sweetie, I found your blog through a friend and I hope it's ok if I follow you!!!!

Tiffany
www.thepiferfamily.blogspot.com

Seraphim said...

Stacy, as a fellow English teacher I just wanted to say God's omnipotence, omnipresence, omnieverything! means that the short life time Isaac shared with us was so powerful that it can't be reduced to a period or a comma.
His life and death meant so much to so many. He has affected me so profoundly. It has caused me to work for good. He was part of the inspiration for starting "Whispered Support."
Lose the punctuation, because honestly, we can still make meaning of the sentence without it. In fact, it makes us work harder on finding the meaning.
Thank you again for making me think. Love to you and Spencer xxxx

Sonya said...

Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future"

I have been coming across this verse a bunch lately and while my situation is no where near what you are going through I hope that it can speak to you as well. Staci God has a plan instore for your life and for what happened with Isaac. We may not know what it is or understand it but we have to trust in God that he knows what he is doing. Another of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."
I hope that you find that God has only put a comma where you feel like he has placed a period. I honestly feel in my heart that God is not done with you yet. Even if that means you are not able to have your own biological child, maybe God has another child in mind for you to give the love I know you have just waiting to give a child.

My mother has several miscarriages before my oldest brother was adopted and then a few before she went on to have my brother and I. I think God's plan for that situation that my oldest brother was placed in a loving Godly home, because that is not what he would have gotten with his birth parents.

Sara said...

Beautiful Stacy... just beautiful. I needed to read that today... gloomy weather... gloomy heart. But you are right God is sovereign. We will trust him, in the good and the bad. Thank you!
Sara

kim_brough said...

I have had the same sort of thoughts lately, except in regards to a husband. After a couple "This is IT" relationships, I've not had one for a year and a half. Like you, I've unknowingly transitioned from "when I get married" to "If I get married". It is the hardest thing to fully let go and say to God "you are enough". I struggle daily with doing that.

I realize this is both similar and completely different from your situation. At the core it's wanting a blessing that we don't have so even though the details are different some of the feelings you have aren't yours alone.

Praying for both of us to be washed over with comfort only God can give.

BTW I don't think I've ever heard the punctuation analogy. I will strive to have him place the puncuation, not assume it myself.

Corie said...

Im not sure I have ever commented before and maybe I just don't feel qualified to! Wierd I know. I have not gone through infertility, yet I lost my son last January and had 2 miscarriages before that. I can undertand this post and yet for me I feel it has been mostly periods for the last two years. I am specifically praying that God will be given you LOTS of explanation points....good ones forsure. What a wonderful baby Isaac i and what a amazing mommy who has Glorified God so much. I am sure there are many times you would rather have your Isaac then this story. I wish you could too...but praying that you will be blessed again with another sibling that can stay. Thinking of Isaac often..with my Larson. Blessing to you!

lisavengesta said...

stacy, you are such an inspiration to me. i truly believe that Isaac's life was not a period; he (and you) have touched so many people and will continue to do so. my heart breaks for your sadness, but i truly believe that God has called you to do something special. i pray for your peace and may God bless you continually ((Hugs)) lisa

Diana said...

I know how you feel. lately I have been left wondering whether this stage of my life has a comma or if it is punctuated with a period. This is definitely a great way to explain the feelings you get when you go through something like this. Thank you.

Rebecca Louise. said...

Beautifully written :) xxx.

Lorraine-bo said...

I was just saying to a friend last night after hearing some upsetting news that I still praise God that He is in control because I'd crumble for good if I didn't know that.

Thanks for a good word. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

I really needed to hear this today--thank you, Stacy. Still praying for you and Spencer...

Rachel Tenpenny Crawford said...

My daughters died 10 months ago. Both of them. My pregnancy was healthy. They were developing perfectly. Yet I went into early labor and the doctors could not stop it. Ellie lived for 7 days, Aubrey for 13, and then they were gone. What makes even less sense is I already have a son. I carried him full term without a hitch. I have never had a miscarriage. I guess my point is DON'T LOSE HOPE. Having children in the future has nothing to do with having lost children in the past. Just as having a child did not guarantee I would keep every child given to me. Your miscarriage and the life and death of your son was not a comma or a period or a question mark...each is a name written on your heart and in the story of your life. They are not a pause in this journey or the end...they are the journey. I am praying for you and the blessing of a baby you can keep and raise and hold longer than 16 minutes. DON'T LOSE HOPE. Healing is measured not by feeling less pain, but by having more hope. If you want to meet my girls you can read about them on my blog Waiting for Morning at www.racheltenpennycrawford.blogspot.com