Monday, July 27, 2009

Holding on to Hope

As we bring the summer to a close and August slowly approaches, my family is dealing with so many emotions. Yes, we are all excited about Walt coming, but his arrival will never take away the broken heart that we all have from losing our sweet Magdalena. August will always be so hard for that reason. I think that I am getting worse about dealing with people, situations, and just life in general. On top of being sad, tired, and hugely pregnant, I am on the edge and irritable. I say this because Noah wrote in the last post how nice it was to have Kim come and stay with me, but really it was a huge sacrifice for her to deal with me for a full week. Not only did I freeze her out of the house, she saw me at my worst. People usually won't want to see this side, this extreme, so I avoid it at all costs. But poor Kim. She got a week full of it. (Thanks for being a true blue friend, Kim!) I know that very soon I will be going back to work, and although this will be hard physically, I am excited/nervous about getting to focus on someone else.

Since I have been through all of this pain, I have been able to kind of "step out" of our church/society culture and see how "weird" we all are. It is not that we don't mean the best when dealing with other people and their problems, but it is that it usually makes us feel uncomfortable, so we may do something to make us feel good about ourselves or to make us feel comfortable. The difference is very obvious when you are the one hurting. I say this to warn readers of a lesson that I have learned, and that maybe if just one of you can benefit from it, it is worth it to share. Here it goes...speaking is overrated. It is okay to have silence in a conversation. Just listen. There are situations where you may not be able to relate to the person, but you can still be there for them. This means don't say what you think is "equivalent" to the situation. I think that I will give an example on this one...When I had recently found out about Magdalena's syndrome I was having a conversation with a woman who proceeded to tell me about when she THOUGHT something was going wrong in her pregnancy and how she ALMOST lost her baby. Notice the key words here. (All of her children are older and healthy) I can look back and realize that this woman was trying to relate to me in a situation that had pain that she knew nothing about. Fear of losing a child is different than knowing you will lose a child or you have lost a child before. My point here is that it is ok if you cannot relate, and sometimes just being there to discuss the difficult subject or not to discuss it is all that matters.

I just had to delete where I was going because I realized that my blog entry was turning into a list of "don't's" when I meant to go somewhere else with it. Please forgive my brain for going all over the page. My point is that a person's actions can cause further pain if there is not a lot of prayer in it before taking a particular action. Before Magdalena passed, a woman at church gave me a book "Holding on to Hope" by Nancy Guthrie. I don't remember all that she said to me, but I remember she asked first if it was okay she brought it to me. Then, she said something like, "This isn't for now". Her words combined with the fact that I knew her made her actions okay, and I see now (and if I can get there I will write) how they are assisting me. We do not share a close friendship and she has never lost a child, but I can truly see that she loves the Lord. I am just now picking up the book, but every time I saw it sitting on the shelf I saw her sweet, loving heart. I didn't want to read about death when we were celebrating her being with us.

Today I made myself begin to read the book. I am so angry with God some days, and as August comes sadness, hurt, and anger consumes my heart. I don't want to speak for everyone in my family, but I dare to say that we are all feeling those emotions right now. It is hard to understand these feelings to a certain extreme unless you have walked down the same path, but I read the first sections of the book through tears. Nancy definitely knows how it feels because it was as if I were reading my diary. I don't want to say, "Go buy this book for everyone", but I will say that if you know someone who has lost a child, YOU may need to read this book. It will help you to understand their pain. You don't have to be able to relate to someone's pain to help them carry it.

Just to give you a glimpse into the book and my heart...
"The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, "You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn't. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keeps us from being swallowed by despair. But I don't think it makes our loss hurt any less."

"It is only natural that people around me often ask searchingly, 'How are you?' And for much of the first year after Hope's death, my answer was, 'I'm deeply and profoundly sad'. I've been blessed with many people who have been willing to share my sorrow, to just be sad with me. Others, however, seem to want to rush me through my sadness. They want to fix me. But I have lost someone that I love dearly, and I'm sad. Ours is not a culture that is comfortable with sadness."

"At times I've headed into the building (church) with completely conflicted feelings. Part of me can't stand the idea that purhaps no one will say to me anything about Hope, while the other part of me dreads that so many people will say something to me about her."

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
(Gosh, this is a hard verse)


  1. I am praying for you, Julie! As someone who does not know you personally, I know I can't just sit and listen to you, but I can at least pray.

    I know that you will never "get over" Magdalena, and that is perfectly acceptable, natural, and expected. A piece of your heart will always hurt, and that doesn't make you any less of a Believer.

    "When the Lord saw her, His heart overflowed with compassion. 'Don't cry!' He said." Luke 7:13

    His heart is overflowing with compassion, sorrow, and love for you, as is mine.

  2. Well said my friend! Praying for you. The anticipation is so hard. Hard to know what to expect...what to do....what to feel. So much emotion. Joy and grief is so intense together. You are walking this daily...and well!

  3. I love your honesty!

    Hang in there.

  4. Thank you for being open and sharing things that we need to hear. Megan

  5. that is a beautiful post, Julie. And so on the money. I all too often speak just to fill space.

    Since "cyber-finding you" almost 7 months ago, you, Noah, Magdalena, & little Walt have touched me to the core with your faith, stories, and music. I've even downloaded many of your playlist from itunes and when I listen to them @ the gym or in the car, they're my "Magdalena songs." Thank you for sharing what you do. I know it is only a small portion of what you endure, but please know it is well served in enriching others (strangers, even) faith.

  6. Thank you! You always make me feel better!

  7. That was beautiful! Thank you sharing your heart and spirit with us......

  8. We think of Magdalena very often, and even moreso with the approach of August. We continue in prayer for you, Noah, Walt and the rest of the family...

  9. Excellent points Julie. Thank you for sharing your heart and the wisdom in the book.

    As a woman, mom and Christian I admit I do want to "make it all better" and it is best many times to just listen. I remember my kids telling me that that often enough. So, thank you for the good reminder.

    May God bless you Julie and continue to hold you tightly in the palm of His hand.

  10. Oh Julie- I also only know you and your family via your blog. You say it so beautifully- being only a listener is tough but many times that is what is what we need. My prayers are with your and Noah as August approaches for your beautiful Magdalena's birthday. How wonderful a day that brought her beautiful smile and eyes into so many lives.

  11. I'm so glad someone gave you Nancy's book and that it's been helpful.


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