It's a word I hear a lot as a mom. Why do I have to... Why doesn't he... Why is the sky blue...
It's a word I have used a lot in my life, especially the last five years. Why did I get sick? Why did my baby die? Why does "she" get to have a healthy pregnancy? Why did I have to go through loss again, and again, and again?
The trouble is, so much of life is out of our control. At least, it is out of mine. There is much I can do, and many choices I can make, to create the environment that I want for raising my children. But the big things, ultimately, are not in my control. My children's personalities. The choices they will make someday. The health of my loved ones. The economy. World events.
The other problem with asking why is that when tragedy strikes, no answer will truly satisfy or make sense this side of Heaven. And there is a problem, in that God doesn't promise to disclose His reasons.
And lots of times, the reason that something happened in the past is not nearly as significant as what lies ahead.
Take this blog. I started writing it in April of 2011, when I was searching for a way to make an impact, to have my voice be heard. I had gone nearly a year without losing a baby (significant when I had said good-bye to three babies in fourteen months the previous year). But I had also gone nearly a year without getting pregnant. I was feeling frustrated, anxious, and frankly a bit irritated with God. Here I had all this love to give to another child - couldn't He see that? But then, I thought, maybe He had another plan for me. (Brilliant insight, I know.)
So I began to take steps to move forward and follow God in a new direction, letting go of my dream of having more children in our family, and in the direction of preparing to homeschool my one and only daughter, of ministering to other women who had gone through loss through our Naomi's Circle ministry, and of fulfilling my dream of being a writer.
Enter this blog. I began to write about a whole smattering of topics from housecleaning (or lack thereof) to mothering to loss to leadership to teaching and back again. Some of those early posts were just plain awkward. Occasionally there was a gem that resonated with others. But mostly, I was thrashing around, trying to make an impact with all this creative energy that I couldn't pour out on my babies because they were in Heaven.
And then I got pregnant and, at least online, kept the whole thing a secret. Because after three losses, I was afraid to hope. Because it was a sacred, special gift that seemed too precious to blog about. And because just when I thought I had God figured out, He went and surprised me again.
And now, three years later, when I look back on "why" I started writing This Side of Heaven, I'm not sure it matters. What does matter is "why" I write it today - to share what God is teaching me about discovering His goodness in the places where we are least likely to look for it - in the messes of life. Because the one why that influenced my writing the most happened a year and a half before I even thought about starting a blog.
That was the point in the Fall of 2009 when I surrendered to the truth that even though I had lost two babies (at that point), even though I felt broken and useless as a woman, even though I couldn't plan anything beyond the next five minutes (sometimes as simple as just breathe), God was still good. And though that wasn't the first thing on my mind when I started writing eighteen months later, it was the beginning of seeing part of the purpose of writing, and even the purpose of my babies' lives.
Reason...and purpose. Two sides of the same coin. The first, the starting point, the impetus, the "cause d'etre". Which may be insignificant, or coincidental, or, in the case of God, hidden. The second, the hoped for result. The good that can come out of tragedy. And, while God may remain silent on the reasons that we experience exact events in our lives, he says a lot in the Scriptures about His purpose for us - what He expects to see happening in our lives over the course of time. Basically, it comes down to two things: becoming more like Christ, and loving an encouraging others to do the same thing.
My babies' lives, however brief, have done that for me. Are doing that for me. God is using them to draw me to Himself and, I hope, to draw others to Him as well. This blog is part of that, as well as our Naomi's Circle ministry, as well as the churches we are a part of, as well as our choice to homeschool our children. There are a lot of reasons I will never understand this side of heaven. But purpose...that is something I can wrap my mind around and embrace wholeheartedly.
Have you struggled with the double-sided coin of reason and purpose? Tell me about it!