Hear me and See me

“You sure?”

My response to a friend who just experienced a miscarriage in her home.

Little did I know that these two simple words could hurt her deeply and it is one of the worst responses coming from an ex-social worker and supposedly mature Christian.

I have been guilty in giving insensitive remarks, so-called practical advice and attempting to speak from experience (actually more like hearsay). They seemed so natural, objective and harmless.

Only when I was at the receiving end of such comments after experiencing 2 miscarriages, did I realise how hurtful they were:

“What happened again?”

“You didn’t rest?”

“Oh dear.”

“You can try again next time.”

A few years back, a good friend asked me to blog about why it’s so hurtful to hear people make such comments. Others who haven’t experience a miscarriage often don’t understand how it feels. I wasn’t able to write then because in my heart, I was still feeling hurt and guilty from the comments- both receiving and giving them . Through the years I’ve been contemplating – why such simple remarks and even a ‘silent’ reply hurt deeply.

Why do I feel discouraged?

Why do I feel so sad?

Psalm 42:11a

It was probably not pure coincidence that I read this verse when I experienced a miscarriage. I think discouragement is an understatement. Being the one fully responsible for the baby’s development in my womb, I felt condemned thinking that I indirectly killed the baby. And then sadness – a family member had passed on – my child.

When a family member passes on, there is a funeral wake or there is some visual memory, in physical appearance and life testimonies . People offer condolences, words of comfort and prayers.

But there is usually no funeral for a miscarried baby. In some cultures, it is a taboo to talk about miscarriage because it is considered a ‘mother’s shame’. No one really knows what to say as nobody has seen nor heard the baby. Only the mother has ‘felt’ the existence of the child. Hence, no one seems to be grieving alongside with you.

Humans yearn to be acknowledged. God knows we long to be heard and seen. He heard the cry of distress and saw Hagar when she was fleeing from her mistress.

And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress.

Genesis 16: 11

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a] She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.

Genesis 16: 13-14

We long for our cries to be heard and we long for our tears to be seen. And I longed for people to hear and see that it was not just a sac, not just a foetus – it was hope, it was a life – my child.

If you know of a friend who has experienced a miscarriage, acknowledge her sadness and let her know you are available to listen when she is ready to share and reach out with acts of kindness. No questions asked nor advice given, I had wonderful friends who:

  • came over to my home to cook and clean
  • delivered a homecooked dinner for my whole family
  • sent flowers and snacks
  • not just say “praying for you” but really praying with me in person or in text
  • gave me virtual hugs

Thankfully Psalm 42 doesn’t just stop at sadness but ends with hope. Walk alongside her in this journey of grief by hearing her cries of distress, and acknowledging her pain so that one day she can put her hope in God again.

I will put my hope in God!

I will praise him again—

my Savior and my God!

Psalm 42: 11b

He lights up your darkness

(Note: I wrote this post on 16 July 2016 and then deleted my blog. I’m reposting it here again on my new blog to encourage others who are going through a difficult time in their lives)

During my second miscarriage, my regular gynaecologist was away on holiday and I saw the covering doctor instead. Since it happened just right after the first, I felt a little resigned to the situation but nonetheless still sad.

There were already signs of miscarriage so it was not a sudden discovery. But something hit me hard – the closing words of the covering doctor were,

You already have 2 children; so don’t feel so sad about it okay?

I left the clinic with those words in my head. The next few days, I started telling myself,

I don’t deserve to feel sad.

I already have 2 children.

I felt that by feeling sad, I was being insensitive to the struggles of childless couples. Also, I felt I was doing my children a disservice. There was no time to grieve, I’ve to care for my children, I’ve to be there for them.

But choosing not to grieve was the worst. I started watching Korean dramas to distract myself. It was a terrible passive activity that has no healing effect whatsoever. I started to have feelings of bitterness and envy. I decided I had to put a stop to it.

So I started to doodle and paint in the mornings when I was alone at home.  Initially, I felt that I was being lazy. Doodling and painting has no economical or tangible benefits! I should be going out to find more work, to do something constructive, cook more, prepare more activities for the children, so on and so on.

But the ever so encouraging husband told me,

You need to do it to find rest and then gain strength for the day

 

So I started painting. And as I painted, I starting grieving and the process of healing began,

I don’t have to feel guilty for feeling sad.

I need to grieve to heal.

During one morning while I was painting, I came upon this word,

“You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.” Psalms 18:28

No matter what you’re going through, whether you think it’s a big or small issue, take the time to rest in His word, take the time to grieve, and He will light up your darkness and heal your wounds.

he lights up my darkness

Jesus is in my beginning and ending

(Note: I wrote this post on 2 July 2016 and then deleted my blog. I’m reposting it here again on my new blog to encourage others who are going through a difficult time in their lives)

A long 6 month hiatus from blogging and I’m back. Most people start the year off with a bang, I started the year off with a break because of a series of events. The second half of 2015 and the first few weeks of 2016 were difficult. I had 2 miscarriages back to back, and then my grandpa passed away, my last grandparent in my family.

It’s interesting how when you suffer from a miscarriage, you immediately want to keep it quiet to yourself and people around you who know want to keep it hush too. I was wondering about that kind of reactive behaviour. Perhaps it’s because it’s a very personal and a private experience. But I realised the deeper reasons for me were guilt and shame.

When the miscarriages happen, the first thing I said to myself was,

It was my entire fault.

I was the one carrying the life.

I was responsible for that life.

And the guilt and condemnation worsens when well meaning friends (whom I appreciate a lot in every way) try to comfort me,

You haven’t been taking care of yourself enough.

You have been over exerting your body.

You haven’t been eating enough vitamins.

I wished that were all true, then I know what can be done to prevent the miscarriages. But unfortunately, the doctor says, they were random occurrences that could not be explained because I have 2 children already. And that made me think,

Perhaps God doesn’t want me to have any more children.

During these 6 months, I’ve been resting and pondering, pondering and resting. Meditating over this simple verse we usually learn when we become a new believer,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

I didn’t cause the miscarriages and certainly God didn’t.

Then one Sunday morning, I heard Pastor Charles Nieman speak about the passing away of his wife and how he had been coping. He shared about a verse that we are all too familiar with,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was, and how is to come, the Almighty.” Revelations 1:8

Jesus is in my beginnings and endings. He was there during the conception, he was there during the miscarriage. He was in it with me though it all, therefore there is no condemnation, no guilt and no shame.

He is in my new beginnings and he is in my endings no matter what experiences they are. And therefore I have hope because my hope is in Jesus.

I’ve asked God one more thing, I asked Him what is the purpose of this experience,

To bring hope to others. To bring Jesus to them.

I hope you feel encouraged by my sharing, I pray you will always hope in Him because He is in our every beginning and ending, in every moment, in the same instant.

alpha and omega