Thursday, November 23, 2017

Grateful for the Gift of Grace

I am honored to introduce you to my new friend, Kara, who is blessing us with a guest post today, on Thanksgiving holiday. Kara is a member of the Loved Baby tribe, an online support group for women who have experienced pregnancy loss of any form.

While walking the road of loss or trauma or any devastating heartache, the holidays can feel bittersweet. We're supposed to feel thankful, yet the hardships of life seem to override all the blessings. If that's you this Thanksgiving, you're not alone.

I love that Kara reminds us that even in the pain, we can be thankful for the grace of God, which in turn helps us extend grace to ourselves and grace to others during times of sorrow. The reminder that grace is a gift, in any and every season, and when we can recognize this, freedom is found. Such an important reminder when you're in the valley and can't quite see the mountaintop.

Enjoy her beautiful words . . .

Grateful for the Gift of Grace
By Kara Creel

If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: 
You did nothing to cause this; this is not your fault.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my doctor’s words were the first of many extensions of grace I would receive over the coming days and weeks.

I remember crying in the shower, sobbing so deeply from chest that it was hard to breathe, “I’m so sorry, baby. I’m so sorry.” I would remember my doctor’s words, and take comfort in them. Then I would cry out to the Lord to carry me through those dark moments.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9

Gratitude was easy in the days that followed losing our sweet baby. Support came pouring in from every corner of our little universe. Our loved ones brought meals and flowers, women who had walked this path before me reached out to me and spoke brave, life-giving words into my heart, and those who were not sure how to comfort me showed up willing to meet me in my mess, and just listen. In this season of thanksgiving, I have had no shortage of blessings to count.

I tried to push forward, and returned to work just five days after surgery. I was terrified of dropping the ball professionally. I made it through one full day, and at around 10:00 the following morning, I felt myself unraveling. I stared at my blurry computer screen as the tears came pouring from my eyes. I asked one of my co-workers and dear friends to come to my office; I thought I just needed someone to talk to. As I struggled to catch my breath through my sobs, she quietly closed the door behind me.Her eyes were filled with compassion as she said, “I’m cancelling your meetings and will talk to our supervisor. You have to go home, Kara. I am not leaving until you pack up your stuff. Go home and rest. Come back next week.” In that moment, she offered me the grace I was unwilling to give myself. My gratitude intensified, as I was acutely aware of the effort being made on my behalf by my work family. My colleagues offered me grace upon grace as they gave me time to work from home and catch up as I could.

Grace abounded in my personal relationships, as well. If the walls of our home could speak, they would tell you the most beautiful love story I have ever known. In the days following the loss of our baby, I all but lost sight of the woman I so desperately strived to be prior to that day. Every ball I tried to juggle, task I sought to accomplish, ambition I attempted to fulfill, obligation I was determined to meet, and dream I longed to achieve came crashing to the ground as I broke into one million pieces. I am a shell of the person I used to be, completely debilitated by my pain. Despite his own sorrow, my husband has yet to drop the ball in terms of caring for our family. He has wiped every tear, calmed my grief-ridden and anxious heart, and never once stopped believing in me. He has arranged every meal, washed every dish, and handled every detail around the house. He has taken impeccable care of our daughter, our dog, and me, and never once complained. He is the great love of my life, the kindest, bravest human I know, and I have never been more thankful that the Lord chose him to be my husband. His capacity for giving grace in light of the greatestheartache we have faced as a couple has left me with an appreciation for him that I will carry with me all the days of my life.

I have diligently sought Jesus in every place I know to look for Him throughout this journey. A precious spiritual mentor of mine, who has experienced tremendous heartache of her own, encouraged me to “lean into the Lord.” She urged me to journal and spend time in scripture, explaining that one day I would look back at my time of grief and recall some of my most intimate moments with JesusI have taken her advice, and continue to be keenly aware and in awe of His presence. Day after day, as I have struggled through my heartache, I have relished in some of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life. I finally understand the expression “God’s living word” as it relates to the bible; the Holy Spirit has breathed His truth into my heart through the pages of Psalms, Ephesians, Romans, Corinthians and the gospels.

The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

I wish I could say that I was prepared to give grace to others in the magnitude that I was receiving it. However, there were times when I felt like I was being ignored, avoided, or that my pain was being minimized. Other times, a weightless remark would leave me feeling as though I had been stabbed in the heart. Now and then, a sobbing outburst would ensue and I would completely lose my composure, or my temper, or my ability tothink rationally, or all of the above. 

What was wrong with me? Was I not growing as a person as a result of this loss? Had I not gained an eternal perspective I did not possess prior to this experience? During one particularly overwhelming conversation, I felt a rage come over me and I lashed out in anger. I stood in my front yard yelling harsh words into my phone, shoulders heaving, voice cracking, and heart breaking. I was immediately remorseful and cried out to God for forgiveness. I was so ashamed of my reactions and behavior. As I listened for the Lord’s provision, I knew that He was teaching me something in my sin and weakness.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  Romans 6: 11 - 14

I remembered that grace was a gift that I also needed to give. I began to pray each morning for the ability to give grace when I felt hurt. That changed everything. I felt so much freedom when I extended Christ’s grace to another of His children. 

Over time, I realized that I am growing as person, after all. I have gained an eternal perspective that I did not possess before.For I now have a vibrant understanding of one of the Lord’s most precious gifts to us. During this season of thanksgiving, I am so marvelously grateful for our heavenly Father’s gift of grace, and to our precious, tiny baby, who grew our hearts exponentially in such a brief period on this earth.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  2 Peter 1:2

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