“In my deepest wound I saw your glory and it astounded me.” – Saint Augustine
This is hard for me to write. I feel uncomfortably vulnerable, but I also feel compelled to tell my story and witness to what God has done for me.
Six Octobers ago on this day, I shared the story of my first miscarriage, which had occurred earlier that year. I lost my baby early in the first trimester, but it was still such a horrible experience and an intense grief. I think every newly expecting mother knows loss is a possibility each time she says yes to life, but it’s still so unreal, so unbelievable and unacceptable, when it happens to you.
Last year on Labor Day, we lost our second baby. The day before it happened, we had made the cute video of our kids announcing their new baby, and I had planned to text the video to both sides of relatives that very day I started spotting and experiencing all the telltale signs of what was to come.
We were heartbroken. In many ways this grief was much harder to bear than our first because we had children old enough to experience the loss with us. When we told the kids, my youngest son started bawling – just weeping uncontrollably and my heart broke into a thousand shards and splinters in that moment. It was like watching my own grief lived out in a newly minted four year old and the hurt just soaked into all of us.
Shock and fear is what I felt holding a positive pregnancy test just six weeks later. I couldn’t even believe it was possible so soon after a miscarriage. So naturally I took two more boxes worth of pregnancy tests just to be sure.
We had cautiously told my parents, and only them, when the first signs of miscarriage started shortly before Thanksgiving. And to this day we’ve barely told anyone that we have a third little soul waiting for us in Heaven. Someday we will tell our children, but at the time they were still grieving miscarriage #2 and we didn’t want to overly burden their little hearts.
I’m sharing this to tell you the story of what happened next. It started subtly at first, but over the course of the fall and winter, my heart glazed over and calcified.
Have you been in that place where you don’t want to feel anything? I didn’t want to feel joy or happiness, physically, spiritually, sexually, or emotionally, because that meant I’d have to feel the full gamut of emotions, including the anger, sadness, jealousy, and grief. And I couldn’t deal with the hurting stuff. It was easier not to feel anything at all.
I remember sitting in Mass feeling literally nothing. I recall avoiding husband hugs and Christmas cheer, putting off date nights and intentionally avoiding morning devotional reading and prayer time. Prayer felt wooden. Everything just felt gray.
As Lent approached, I started consciously trying to put myself back together. I ate a really clean diet, exercised consistently, went on date nights and girl’s nights, and tried to restart a prayer and devotional life. I felt inspired to read the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament as a Lenten devotion. I had no particular reason for picking Ezekiel besides the fact I couldn’t remember reading it cover to cover as an adult, and figured it would be a good thing to do for Lent. It’s 48 chapters long, Lent is about the same length, it just worked.
Ezekiel is the story of the Nation of Israel during the hardest years of the Babylonian Exile. It’s the story of God’s called and chosen people not living their best life, easily susceptible to the pagan culture they are surrounded with in Captivity. Ezekiel is God’s mouthpiece warning of the impending Fall of Jerusalem, the necessary purification for Israel’s disobedience and hardness of heart.
Ezekiel tells Israel that a painful purging is coming. But with the unavoidable bad news comes the promise of a New Covenant, of a good work of grace that God would do for Israel that would make their obedience and faithfulness to Him possible:
“And a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27
Even though Israel wanted to walk rightly with God, they couldn’t break the cycle of a hard heart on their own. So God, the loving Father and merciful King, did it for them.
As I sloughed my way through Lent with my own stony heart, I realized maybe I was going through the whole healing process wrong. I was trying to fix me and heal me by doing a lot of stuff: healthy habits, healthy lifestyle, spiritual exercises. It wasn’t working very well.
As simple as it sounds, I said a little prayer and specifically asked God to break my heart of stone like he did for Israel, and heal me.
It happened a few weeks later, at the end of Lent. I had one of the most profound experiences of the Holy Spirit I’ve ever had in my life.
It was like I was zapped. I felt FLOODED by His love, His grace, His mercy. It was so unspeakably beautiful, profound, simple, complete, all rolled into one. I felt loved. I knew Love. I wanted to be with Him and for Him and just – heart bursting stuff. It’s like I saw things in color again, and my heart was singing for no reason at all, or maybe for every reason. I felt happy. This probably sounds charismatic, and I don’t consider myself charismatic at all, but it was definitely a Holy Spirit breaking and healing and all I can say is I am not the same person. I feel enveloped in love and mercy unlike anything I have ever known.
I share this because I think many of us try to fix our own hurt and end up just spinning our wheels or wallowing in our sorrow unhealed. And I think God wants us to ask Him for help. Simple and sincere, just ask Him for help. He is the great Healer. And just as He healed Israel and turned a nation of stony hearts (Ezekiel 36) and dry bones (see Ezekiel 37) into a people pulsing with a new spirit and a new song to sing, He can do the very same thing for me, and for you.
I don’t know what your deepest wound is, but I’m certain you have one. We all do. We are a people full of wounded hearts in a messy world, most of us hiding our sorrows and sufferings on the inside where no one can see (at least that’s what I do).
Bring it to Christ. Grab Him in prayer and just like Jacob (Israel) who wrestled with God and refused to let go without a blessing, cling to him until He works in you. Even with rock in your heart and no emotion left, cling and ask.
I still hurt about my three babies. I always will. But in the midst of a deep wound that is personal, private, and different for each couple who walks the journey of loss, I have encountered Him in a way that makes words seem trite. And I am bowed down and bowled over by His glory.
P.S. Read Ezekiel 36-37 and then listen to this.