My mom said I kicked God out of the girl’s group.
She was right. Kicking God out of the girl’s group was my first course of action when the doctor confirmed I was losing the baby.
At that time, the words livid and hurt were an understatement, and yet they were the only words I had.
I also felt abandoned, lost, and confused.
However, while there is nothing exactly like losing a child, I have experienced a death similar to the baby’s death before.
That death was my grandmother’s.
When she died I vowed I would never get better.
So, I stopped praying. I dropped out of my college’s gospel choir, I stopped going to church, and I packed up all of my bibles. Why should I stay faithful in adversary? My grandmother was faithful and what did that get her? Breast Cancer. Her diagnosis went against everything we were taught in church and all of our life. We were taught that the faithful were highly favored and immune, in a sort of way, from the bad.
Either she was not faithful or the pastors were wrong.
My conclusion: the pastors were wrong.
I stayed in that dark place for a long time, but then I read The Shack. In the story a father’s youngest daughter is kidnapped and killed by a serial killer while on a camping trip. Three years later, God writes him a letter and invites him back to the place where they found her blood so they can talk and he can heal.
It was a beautiful book and shortly after reading it I plucked my bibles from storage—though I didn’t open them—and I let time do the rest.
From that moment until my miscarriage I thought I understood God. But, I didn’t.
I thought I believed in and knew God, but I didn’t. This realization came crashing and burning down on me as I miscarried. In a panic, I frantically text one of my closest friends, LaTricia, with a question.
I asked her if God was real. I told her I didn’t know anyone else (alive) who believed like she did, and I needed answers now.
As soon as I sent the text I regretted it. Not because I was afraid of her answer, but because I knew I would have to figure this out for myself. At the time I couldn’t help but think that anything could happen to me. I expected catastrophe and I expected more death to find me in a short span of time, and so I knew I had to arm myself. I knew I would have to find a way to cope with the pain death would certainly bring.
Essentially, it was imperative that I learn, once and for all, if God was real and if God cared.
So, I began to re-read The Shack.
Now, it was I who had lost the child and so I sought the book out to show me something that I could have missed the first time I read it.
I also began to read a book a mentor gave to me, Miscarriage, Women Sharing from the Heart. The book, she said, had helped her through her own experience of miscarriage.
My mentor was on to something because the book was helpful. And, as I was reading I came across a woman’s note about her own loss and it stuck out to me.
She said, “I thought I was being punished. I thought it was payback time. Then I read When Bad Things Happen to Good People, and I realized I was not being punished.” (pg. 66)
I immediately downloaded the sample of the book to my kindle, and then two pages into the introduction I bought it.
To anyone experiencing a tragedy, anyone angry at God (and feeling guilty about that anger), and to anyone who wants to understand why bad things happen to good people—I highly, highly, highly recommend this book.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People is written by a rabbi. His son, Aaron, was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Progeria. This disease causes rapid aging and when his son was three it was confirmed that he would not live past his teens. Sadly, his son passed two days after his fourteenth birthday.
This man, like the fictional character in The Shack and the women in Miscarriage, Women Sharing from the Heart, gets grief and loss and he gets being angry and confused by God. This man, like the authors of the other books I was reading provided a response to all of the inquiries I cried out to God while in pain.
So, what am I learning?
What did losing a baby teach me about God?
I learned that God limits Himself in order to have a relationship with us. God could be all powerful, could keep bad things from happening, and could exact justice all day, but when we asked for freedom, independence, and the will to choose what we wanted to do, millions of years ago, God said, “Okay.”
God could demand obedience and love, but anyone who has ever loved or obeyed before knows that love and obedience is better given and received when it is a choice you have made.
So, because God is hands-off, no one is immune.
Miracles will happen and joy will too, but shit will happen as well. No one on this earth is protected or promised a life without tragedy, loss, or heartache.
Sadly though, we have all been taught otherwise. We’ve grown up believing that eventually everything will make sense and that God puts us through hard and horrible things to make us stronger and to test us. But, I believe that these are lies. Because God is good, God will create something good out of horrible situations, but God does not need bad things to happen to us to be a good God. God does not make bets with the devil and God is not mean.
God is not abusive or manipulative and God loves us so much He will give us what we asked for.
This thing is independence.
And essentially, independence means that we are not protected from experiencing hurricanes, miscarriages, and other travesties. Natural and unnatural phenomenons will find us and there is nothing we can do about it.
Well, I’m learning that there are some things we can do about it.
The main thing I’m learning to do, for my sanity, is to differentiate between what is God and what’s not.
Not an act of God: My miscarriage.
Act of God: Our family taking us in and reminding us that we are alive and that there is hope. Our family loving on us and not judging us or making us feel worse.
Not an act of God: Mass shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.
Act of God: The surviving students and their vow to take action and hold the NRA and anyone else accountable.
Not an act of God: My history of sexual abuse and sexual assault and abuse in the world, in general.
Act of God: The strength to tell over and over again. The courage to seek therapy and want to be better. Activists, non-profit organizations for survivors, support groups, the creation of rape kits, access to healthcare and programs, and etc.
Not an act of God: Fear, guilt, and blame I took on when I learned I was losing the baby.
Act of God: The desire to try again and the courage and strength to not isolate myself. The wisdom to seek literature and the stories of others so that I can learn and feel better.
Do you get it?
I’m still learning myself.
But ultimately, God is only good things, and what’s more: I am learning that the only reason I find my miscarriage so unfair, unjust, and devastating is because God finds it unfair, unjust, and devastating as well.
God thinks it sucks too.
This is what snaps me out of the sunken place (most days) when I find myself slipping. Knowing that God feels just as badly and that God grieves for my baby too, and will sit next to me and be with me as I do my best to move forward.
I was wrong about God before and in fact, many of us are. I get it though. We really want things to make sense and things only seem to make sense if we can place blame: point the finger at God or at ourselves. Things only make sense if we believe people get what they deserve or can handle. But if we look closely we will see that none of those things add up or make sense with what is actually going on in this world.
Still, I wish God would have paused in giving us the choice of independence to save my baby.
I wish God would have stopped the baby’s death.
But then I think about all of the times in my life where I was happy God did not intervene and when I was happy for my independence.
I think about all of good things that have come out of my independence—all of the art and the love. However, I also think about those times I fooled around with Mikey when we were younger, and all those times I was disobedient, bad, hateful, mean, and engaged in some activity that was wrong as hell. I think about all of the lies I have told and all of the times I’ve kept quiet, and it’s not that I believe God is punishing me for all of those times, but now I understand that I, and we as humans, cannot pick and choose when God should be God.
We don’t get to want but also not want justice.
We don’t get to ask for a lifetime of independence and then get mad when shit goes wrong.
Well, we do get to be mad. Anger and sadness will happen. Outrage is human, but it is not God’s fault and 99.99% of the time it’s not our fault either.
“‘ But if she hadn’t died, I wouldn’t be here now. . .’
‘Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.'” – God, The Shack
The fact is, I understand now that as long as I am alive life will happen to me.
There is no bribe or negotiation that will protect me from pain.
If I sound unafraid, I’m not. I’m shaking. I just realize now that that’s the way it goes.
So, in all, I have learned that the baby’s death was not a part of God’s plan. I did not get pregnant and experience that level of joy just for God to fuck with me.
It was not written that I experience devastation.
God was just as happy when our suspicions were confirmed that I was pregnant. God celebrated and probably danced with my grandmother just as we danced and drove around the city to tell our mothers and siblings about the baby.
My miscarriage was not needed for God’s grand plan and master design, and I am not so bad a person that I deserved this.
No one deserves this.
God is as sad as I am sad that randomness and chaos happens in this life because God feels pain with us.
God is good and I was right to find my previous version of God untrustworthy, because that God is a mess. But this God? My God? Is better than I thought.
Losing the baby broke me all up, and I am still sad and I still cry everyday because I am hurt everywhere.
Sometimes, at night, I even catch myself asking, “Where is my baby?” But—
Act of God: I am not alone.