The end of summer

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer and I must say that this summer can’t be over soon enough now.  What began as a summer full of excitement quickly turned to frustration and despair.  Beginning around the 4th of July weekend my wife starting getting sick with her pregnancy.  As basically every woman in my church tried to reassure me, every woman goes through varying degrees of morning sickness.  Unfortunately I’ve also discovered that this is practically a competition among women to say who had the worst morning sickness.

While morning sickness was definitely a factor this was not my wife’s only problem and for the entire month I couldn’t leave her alone.  Despite the fact that I work from my home office, this caused some people to accuse me of not doing my full job.  I will always maintain that as much as I love the church, my wife comes first.  In fact if I can’t take care of my family, I’m not much of a pastor because the church structure (at least ideally) is based on the family model.  While other people take days off to tend to sick children, spouses, or parents, unless I take an entire week off, my workload doesn’t decrease.  No one accepts the excuse of “that was my day off” for not being visited in the hospital or being tended to for whatever their problem is.

July ended with my wife having a miscarriage.  We were assured by the doctors that it had nothing to do with my wife being sick and nothing that either of us did, these things just happen and unfortunately quite often.  Nevertheless, this does little to dull the pain.  Three other pastors failed in offering any words of comfort during this time – one actually made me feel worse after the fact.  The truth is that there are no true words of comfort to offer in such a time.  Others who have gone through the experience can sympathize a bit more but still I believe that each experience is very personal.

One thing that I can offer to anyone trying to console someone else going through the pain of miscarriage is to never pretend like the child is replaceable and the woman will be pregant again in no time.  While we had no trouble getting pregnant I’ve seen that many who have had heartbreaking miscarriages also had trouble getting pregnant in the first place, sometimes taking years.  Beyond that a child is not replaceable.  It does not matter if the parents never got to know their child, from the moment they found out they were pregnant they had hopes and dreams for the child and all of those dreams died with that child.  Telling a grieving parent that they will be pregnant again soon is like telling a grieving spouse that they will find someone else and get remarried soon.  There is no replacement.  Even though people mean well in saying it, they really aren’t words of comfort.

After two months – one month of tending to my wife and another of picking up the pieces – life is starting to return to normal a bit.  My wife and I are strong and with God’s help we will make it through this.  The week after the miscarriage I was able to stand in front of my church and say that despite all that had happened, God is still good and He’s still with us.  I know that I’m the exception but I have never questioned why God allowed this to happen or became angry or complained that it was unfair.  I have repeatedly told people that God did not abandon them in times or trial nor fail them when their prayers weren’t answered the way they hoped.  I not only have to believe this as well, I truly do believe it.

And so life goes on.  I don’t know precisely what life holds in store for us right now.  I certainly don’t know precisely why this happened, only that my wife and I are going to be stronger from the experience.  Right now I’m using the changing of the seasons to put a symbolic close to a very difficult and painful season of my life.  And I know that a month from now and a year from now I will still be able to say as I do today that God is still good despite all that has taken place.