I recently listened to a devotional given by Erin Kramer Holmes who went through a miscarriage and shared her thoughts about uncertainty. In this post I simply re-shared and analyzed and emphasized some of her words, added a few references of my own, and included some of my feelings and experience. But I hope this information is helpful for those experiencing baby loss.
Waiting Upon the Lord: The Antidote to Uncertainty
(a devotional given by Erin Kramer Holmes, BYU Professor in the School of Family Life)
As a mother, She and her husband had dreams. After some time of waiting for a child they became pregnant. She immediately told her children who had been praying for a little brother or sister.
“Unexpectedly about 10 weeks into the pregnancy, we lost that baby. The pregnancy had felt like such miraculous gift after so many years of waiting; losing that baby felt like God was taking the gift away…
Frankly I didn’t know if I could hope for another child. I didn’t know if I could trust God after this loss.”
Uncertainty is the reflection of the gap between our desire for the ideal and the experience of the real. The ideal represents how we think things should be or ought to be (dreams and goals). The real is how things actually are.
In her research, she found that more than 70% of new mothers expressed that they feel there is a large gap between their ideal and the real. The larger the gap the, higher the the likelihood of experiencing depression, and we struggle.
Our purpose here is to grow and progress here on earth, and to draw closer to God. We knew this, and we also know that He will give us strength.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Uncertainty, and more specifically miscarriage still so hard to deal with. Erin offers four suggestions on how to “wait upon the Lord.”
1. Actively Seek God
Sometimes we feel like God is hiding from us. Another great talk that digs deeper into this is Where is The Pavilion by President Henry B. Eyring. This is one of my favorite talks. President Eyring introduces the talk with the quote from Joseph Smith in his time of uncertainty:
“Oh God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place.”
Erin shares a scripture that I really liked:
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
Holmes shares her issues with early infertility. She was recently married and in her early twenties and while she was waiting she was filled with uncertainty with what to do with herself. Get a PhD? Work? Volunteer?
In the famous church hymn she listened one Sunday morning:
“But if, by a still, small voice he calls To paths that I do not know, I’ll answer dear Lord with my hand in thine: I’ll go where you want me to go.”
Though she did not receive a particular answer she wanted about how to move forward and when to have children. She still faced uncertainty, But she was prompted that she should continue her schooling. She was comforted as she attended a General Young Women Meeting President Hinckley shared a message entitled, “How can I Become the Woman of When I Dream?”
2. Trust God’s Plan
Know that the plan God has for you may not match your ideal, but with faith you will live a remarkable life.
The part that REALLY stood out to me was a quote from a blog post that one of her students wrote. In it the student shared her thoughts about God’s plan. She said:
“It’s tempting to think that God has some master plan that He’s measuring me against, and if I take one misstep I’ve missed my chance for happiness forever.”
Can anyone relate? I sure can. I have felt that way when burdened with major decisions.
But you know what? As I’ve examined that mindset, I’ve learned that I need a better understanding of God and what the term “His plan for me” means.
I’m learning that God is much less a divine dictator who demands perfect compliance to a predetermined plan for our individual lives and much more a cocreator with us of the kind of lives we want to live.
Along with the blog post was this helpful printable:
I LOVE that idea of my Heavenly Father is a cocreator! Being an artist this gives me great joy. I love to collaborate to create things that help others and bring joy. And having the ultimate and most powerful being to be my cocreator! Wow! I MUST have that companionship and teammate in my life.
3. Choose Faith and Hope
Waiting, seeking, and understanding God’s plan for us all require a tremendous amount of faith and hope. But how do we maintain faith and hope when uncertainty has such a strong capacity to make us doubt and fear?
That question is tricky. It’s hard not to fear when we encounter uncertainty.
Professor Gregory Clark has had his moments of struggling with faith and fear. He said this about where his fear comes from:
I think it is rooted in the assumption . . . that I must solve all my problems and face all my challenges alone, using my own resources. That is frightening, because deep in my heart I know how limited those resources are. . . . Knowing that I am not capable of changing myself or my circumstances for the better, I stand frozen in fear.
This rings soooo true for me. When I learned about losing our baby. I was paralyzed with grief and when that grief was too overwhelming, I felt guilt and fear of not be able to take care of my home, packing, and eating. I had experienced severe depression and exhaustion on my mission I knew the feeling and signs well. I was experiencing them that weekend we found out about our loss.
It’s been 5 days since learning about the miscarriage. I KNOW that the spirit gave me strength to reach out to a support group and include people that I would not have thought to include.
We are pretty good at keeping things on the DL, and being low maintenance. But this time, being the secretary of the Relief Society Presidency, I was very aware of my resources and the people who loved me in the ward. And with our recent move coming up many friends have vocally expressed their love for us.
So I reached out the the presidency, my dear friends in sisterhood. I have become very close to the president and counselors in these past 10 months. And I am so so grateful. I feel deep in my heart that part of the reason I was called to be their secretary was to learn from their example and righteously rely on their strength, and all the compassionate sisters for this particular time of heartbreak and loss.
They have graciously and willingly served me with loving hearts. Meals, boxes for moving, encouraging text messages, prayers, temple trips on our behalf. So much love. And I am incredibly thankful for their love and service.
I chose hope and faith and will continue to do so in our new ward. Don’t lose hope. Never stop seeking God.
4. Find Reassurance in God’s Love
Oh how much sweet comfort I get from this painting! This is EXACTLY how I feel. There are feelings of iolation, but I know there are so many ministering angels helping me along the way.
About a year and a half later Erin became pregnant again. Her anxieties and fears were high. She felt lost and uncertain again. She shared a sacred moment:
“One day while at work, that lost feeling was intense. I knelt down in my office in the Joseph F. Smith Building, and I prayed fervently that God would be with me in my waiting. It was a prayer full of faith and longing. In faith, I asked God to be with me in my waiting. I really longed for Him to confirm to me that my baby would be healthy. But while praying, I knew that I had to pray for something else: I had to pray that whatever happened to this baby in this pregnancy, God would be with me, that He would help me manage whatever pain, sorrow, or loss could happen. I had to pray for this because, though losing a baby is not ideal, the possibility was real. That was a humbling experience.”
Tears came to my eyes while I listened to this. I couldn’t help it. There is still that reality that I could experience loss again. HOW!? How could this be? I feel like my grief has already surpassed beyond what I thought was possible. Erin’s humility is a solid example to me. She had faith that God would be with her.
More tears gushed when I read that she did have another miscarriage. But she did not lose that powerful witness of God’s love for her.
She’s my hero!
In closing she said:
“Despite life’s uncertainties, I pray that you will also seek Him, that you will strive to understand His plan for you, and that you will choose faith and hope. As you do these things, I hope you will receive heavenly reassurance. He knows you. He loves you. I testify that following these principles has helped me face uncertainty. I believe they can help you too.”