This is an intimate love story. A heart-breaking one between a mother and her daughter. And a heart-mending one between a daughter and her God.
It was all too familiar to me.
I Will Carry You by Angie Smith is appropriately subtitled, “The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy.”
Reading of Angie’s initial excitement at her pregnancy, then the uncertainty of a formidable diagnosis, and all the roller-coaster of emotions that followed, brought back memories and tears that always stay right below the surface for me and for other moms like me who you pass every day at the grocery store or sit beside in church or chat with online but you may not realize have lost children.
Angie’s baby Audrey lived only 2½ hours outside her mother in 2008. My baby Kali lived 1½ hours in 1993 outside of me.
The numbers, while hugely important—they mark that our children were real—they were HERE—also contradict themselves. In a mother’s heart, once conceived, a baby is our baby forever, regardless of how long ago it was, or how long or briefly we held them in our arms.
Angie writes that it’s easy to be a believer when you get your miracle. But what happens when you don’t?
As Christians, we often want to tie it up neatly with a bow and be standing ready with our church smiles when someone asks us how we are dealing with loss. I don’t believe that “God needed another angel,” and I honestly grew weary of hearing people try to explain it all away because they couldn’t stand to say those three words.
I don’t know.
You don’t have to feel like you need to fill the gaps. He has put the gaps there so that you will press into Him despite them. That will be your answer to those who murmur around you.
But the story isn’t all sad. Angie shares valuable pieces of her faith journey through loving and losing Audrey. The lessons she learns are valid for anyone who goes through suffering of any kind (i.e., everyone).
All of us will have times of crisis. The most we can do is put our hands on the stone and accept what happens next with the grace that says circumstances will define neither God’s love for us nor our love for God.
She also shares practical advice on what to say to someone who has lost a child, and just as importantly, what not to say. Her husband Todd (lead singer for the group Selah) includes a chapter from the father/husband’s perspective, which is typically different from the mother/wife’s.
Several helpful resources are included at the end of the book, including “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” (NILMDTS), an organization that trains photographers around the country to take beautiful and sensitive photographs of precious babies and families. Because hospital personnel took pictures of our Kali when we were too dazed to do so, I’m grateful that organizations have risen up like NILMDTS to do likewise.
Similar to Angie keeping a journal, I wrote down my prayers during my pregnancy with Kali. I’ve since typed them and saved them in various places. The lessons are too valuable to lose. I’m thankful to Angie for her openness in publishing hers. Perhaps one day I’ll see value in doing the same...
Every one of us is given alabaster jars in our lives. Moments that have been chosen from before there was time, where we will follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and glorify our Father with our offering.
…Whatever it is, a loss, a divorce, a death, a hurt, something you feel is out of your control, forgotten by the One who could make it right again—know this.
He has not forgotten.
He has heard you call.
He may wait to come to you because He is withholding a blessing in order to give you a better one.
And regardless of whether or not your Lazarus walks out of the tomb, I pray that you continue to worship the Lord, keeping what He has given you until the moment you are called to give it away. And as the glass shatters all around you and you grow dizzy from the intoxicating smell of pure love, get as close to His feet as you can.
And know this.
It was always meant to fall from your hands. And He is glorified in the shattering.
~ Angie Smith
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