October is Pregnancy/Infant Loss Awareness Month. During October, Project Pomegranate welcomes our friend and fellow traveler Elizabeth Hagan, as a guest blogger. Her book, Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility, a story which was also punctuated by miscarriage, will be released on December 6, 2016. If you missed her first post about why she took on this project, you can read it here.
Please also consider sharing Though the Darkness Gather Round: Devotions about Infertility, Miscarriage, and Infant Loss! You can purchase here or here!
Today Elizabeth Hagan shares another excerpt from her book, Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility. After just experiencing her first miscarriage while serving as a solo pastor of a church in Virginia, Elizabeth writes this:
In the days that followed small talk with church members seemed so petty.
Watching our favorite TV shows with whiny comedic characters felt so offensive.
And the thought of having something meaningful to say from the pulpit on Sunday seemed impossible.
Most of all, I didn’t want to talk about it. Kevin, with curiosity, asked why. I told him I didn’t like to talk until I had something to say.
Growing up, when an adult asked me about my day, I almost always said, “Fine.” And that was it. I got by with a lot of fine. Living with Kevin was my first experience of someone who didn’t take one-word answers. I needed more time, though, to trust him with my uncensored thoughts.
Several friends came over for pizza and movies a couple of days later, as was a normal part of our life with neighborhood friends. My moodiness was still apparent in how snappy I was about whether or not we used paper plates. This led Kevin and me to face our first awkward conversation with some of our dearest couple friends. They wondered what was wrong with me.
Kevin spoke where I couldn’t. “Elizabeth was pregnant, and then she was not.”
What a buzz kill I was! No one knew what to say. No one rushed up to hug me. No one sent me a card later when they had more time to think about how devastating this must have been for us (like I would have). No one really did anything except make “I’m sorry” statements and eagerly change the subject.
Our silent journey of grief had begun.
Within days, the season of Advent—the four Sundays of preparatory waiting for the birth of Jesus began. For obvious reasons, Advent is not a particularly helpful time for women grieving about babies, especially if those women happen to be pastors. I loved Jesus, but I didn’t want Jesus to be a baby right now, a baby about whom I had to say something profound! Yet there was no way around singing songs and reading liturgy about the expectation of pregnancy. And congregants, more than at any other time of the year, I believe, expect their pastors to be happy as they sing these songs. And Pastor Elizabeth was not happy! But, for the sake of the job I loved and the congregation that had embraced a twenty-eight-year-old as their pastor with gusto less than a year earlier, I tried my best. I preached as well as I could. I would not fail at Advent season #1!
Beginning a new tradition, I offered a short evening vesper service for each of the four Wednesday nights in December. Going along with the traditional words of Advent—hope, peace, joy, and love—each week we focused our discussion on a new word. First up: hope. “Hope week” came four days after our devastating news. One of our corporate prayers in the book we followed asked us to reconsider what we were hoping for in the coming year and whether or not we were allowing God to be a part of our hopes.
I did not dare say my hope aloud: “I want to have a baby.” However, I said it to God over and over during each moment of the silence we observed at the end of the service.
Several days later, we sang, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” as we lit the Advent candles. I wondered how long Kevin and I would have to wait for another pregnancy. Another month? Six months? A year? We were ready. Wasn’t God ready to bless us?
Oh, Jesus, all I want for Christmas is two lines on stick!
Instead, I got a lot of sweaters.