As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)
I’ve spent much of the last few weeks – a month, even – oscillating between sadness, anger, and being generally okay. I’m not so much surprised that finally, after a year, the fact of my hysterectomy and its utter finality are hitting me hard. But I’m often shocked at my reaction. I’m just mad.
At God, for taking away something so essential to my womanhood, to my motherhood, to my personhood…something I rarely ever considered before the fact, and can’t stop thinking about since.
At circumstance. The fact that even though we were planning to adopt before it ever happened, now I’m left with no choice in the matter. The crippling fear that I’ll never be ready to adopt. Angry at the fact that if and when we do, the expense is unfathomable…and it’s not an expense I should have ever been forced into.
Mad at what is and is not. I’m angry at other women who are having their second, third, seventh, eighth babies. The professional preggos. I’m angry that, despite all the effort I made during pregnancy to stay healthy and strong, despite all the prayers for a natural, intervention-free labor & delivery, I somehow ended up here.
I’m mad that everywhere I turn, I feel stabs of accusation and judgement…Fingers pointing, voices screaming I shouldn’t have agreed to be induced. I should have insisted the pitocin be turned off. I shouldn’t have waited so long to call my doula. I should have waited a few more days to let Eli come on his own. I shouldn’t have been so impatient. I should have enjoyed those last days of pregnancy and been aware I might not ever get to do it again.
I’m angry and sad that in all of this, there’s just no answer. It is what it is, and there’s nothing to be done about it.
And the question tearing through it all: WHY? “Why, me, God? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I not good enough to bear more children? Why did you rob me of my life-giving ability and leave me barren and empty? Why are you punishing me – what did I do wrong?!”
I was sharing this stuff with my therapist this morning. She allowed me my interpretation of the situation, but then – humbly – offered her own.
“What if God, your father – not just ‘God the Father in Heaven’ but ‘God your dad’ – saved you? What if He, as your parent who deeply loves you,who would not bear to lose you, and still has deep abiding purpose for you, said ‘No. This will not be your end. This will not be your death. You may lose a piece of yourself, but any loss is worth it to save your life.’ What if this isn’t just the end, but the Beginning?”
Because this is the reality: I danced with death. I received 23 units of blood transfusions over the course of a six-hour surgery, after an emergency c-section. Due to the fact that I’d had such a difficult labor, and the cs, and was 41 weeks 4 days pregnant, my body should have rejected those transfusions…I should have become infected, sick. I should have kept bleeding.
But I didn’t. I lived. And not only did I live, I recovered quickly and flawlessly.
Of all the should- and shouldn’t-haves, that is perhaps the most haunting: I really should have died.
And yet, I’m alive to tell the story.
So as I left my dear therapist’s office, the Spirit brought to mind – as He does – this simple Truth: Much of the time, what happens is simply what happens. It’s not the consequence of some unconfessed sin. It’s not the result of unworthiness, or poor decision making, or of any other human flaw or failure other than, perhaps, the sticky terrain that is our fallen condition.
Rather, it is what must be in order that I may live to tell the story of How God Saved My Life. It is what must be in order that God may be displayed in us.
I won’t lie: it’s terrible. I hate it. I hate nearly every second of it.
But then…I’ll get a message from another woman from another city who lost her uterus, too. Or from a woman who’s miscarried time and again because her womb just can’t sustain life. Or from a woman whose first daughter is growing inside her without a skull, and who will die when she’s born or soon thereafter.
And I know, again, that we’re not alone. That God is giving us language for the unspeakable, fellowship in the desolation.
I know that He is showing Himself to us and through us, using our tragic stories to paint another masterpiece of love beating death.
And I am reminded that we are desperately loved by One who would stop at absolutely nothing to save us.