Losing my baby was without question the most difficult experience of my life. For months, my life consisted of nothing more than overwhelming grief, heartache and emptiness. Day after day, I nearly drowned in a pool of my own tears and barely escaped being suffocated by the bone crushing sorrow that resulted from my baby being born 20 weeks too soon.
Each day was a battle against grief. A battle against the desire to hide in bed. A battle against the tears that sprung from my eyes at the most inopportune times. A battle against feelings of anger and despair.
But the greatest battle wasn’t against grief and the struggles that go along with it. It was against Satan and the barrage of lies that he assaulted my mind with.
I was lonely and isolated. I felt like an outcast, misunderstood. Most people cannot comprehend the all-consuming pain of losing a child and it felt easier to carry that pain alone than to try and explain it to those who simply wouldn’t understand. I wondered if God had abandoned me. I assumed that my loss was a result of His anger towards me so I distanced myself from Him too.
I felt comfortable living in isolation and that’s just where Satan wanted me, for in isolation there was no one to refute his lies. Lies, that for a long time, I interpreted as being messages from the God who was angry with me.
You are a failure, I heard. And it was true. I had failed so many people. My baby, who died because my body wasn’t strong enough. My husband, who had wanted another child as much as I did. My daughter, who wouldn’t get the chance to spend childhood with her sibling. How could I disagree with that statement when I had failed to do the one thing that a woman’s body is made to do? The proof of my failure was undeniable.
You are unworthy, he whispered quietly in the night. But I heard his message loud and clear. I didn’t measure up to other women. The ones who were capable of of bringing all of their children safely into the world. The ones who had gained favor from the God who had not taken any of their babies. With the absence of my baby, I believed that God had deemed me unworthy to care for another child.
You are a bad mom, he said, as I yelled at my daughter. Or ignored her. Or complained about the inconveniences of parenting. I wasn’t a fun mom, or an organized one. I didn’t have the patience or nurturing demeanor that good moms were made of. I regularly lost my temper and selfishly took time for myself. And as I acknowledged all of my less than favorable traits, it seemed clear that I didn’t deserve to mother another child.
You are being punished, he told me. And that seemed reasonable as I recounted all of my wrong-doings, especially the ones that involved parenting my daughter. Because of my sin, God was surely punishing me by taking my baby, the baby I didn’t deserve in the first place. Maybe He was repaying me for all the hurt I had caused Him over the years.
This is your fault, I heard. And I couldn’t deny it as I recalled my failures and sins. As I acknowledged that I was a bad mom and had failed my living child more times than I could count. If I had just performed a little better, made fewer mistakes, maybe I would have earned the privilege to bring my baby home.
These messages swirled around in my head for months and I was deeply ashamed by what I believed to be true.
Until one day in church, I heard someone mention the God of peace. This description didn’t make sense to me as the messages I believed to have come from God had brought me nothing but guilt, shame and self-loathing. I wondered how He could be the God of peace when I was experiencing nothing but inner turmoil. And that’s when I realized those messages were not from God, but from Satan.
With that powerful realization came words of assurance instead of accusation.
I finally heard what God had been saying all along, but that had been drowned out by the voice of Satan as I trudged through the days alone.
I am with you.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I am the God of compassion.
You are redeemed.
I love you.
What a relief to have discovered that those painful messages had not come from God; He promises to help, not hurt, in times of trouble. He promises comfort not confrontation.
This realization did not mean that I no longer suffered. The pain was still there as I grieved the loss of my baby, but I had been freed from that lies that Satan had trapped me in. Messages of love became louder than the lies, and it was the love that gave me the courage to step out of the darkness and into the light. I had been freed from shame, guilt and self-loathing and I was no longer left to suffer alone.