This is so fascinating....
I just this morning commented in my book review (last post) that C.S. Lewis's book "The Problem of Pain" was a great book but that it simply couldn't touch my heart in terms of understanding human suffering. A couple of hours later, while checking a friend's blog, I clicked on her link to another blog, "Bring the Rain."
I spent the next hour completely neglecting my poor toddler (thankfully he has a new CD player with which he is entranced) while I read this blog and cried my eyes out over it (which, if you know me, is completely uncharacteristic).
"Bring the Rain" is a blog written by a mother who learned, when she was partway through her fifth pregnancy, that her baby had too many health problems to live, and would die at birth. She completed the pregnancy with this knowledge, having to select her daughter's coffin and grave marker before she was even born. Seeing the tiny pictures of her after birth, and her sweet little wooden coffin, was just overwhelming.
I had actually heard a very similar story before, in a testimony by a woman at a local church. She and her husband lost their first child shortly after birth due to health problems. They then had three healthy children, but when pregnant with their fifth found out that the child would not live past birth. They, too, had to deal with grieving for a child who was still living and not even yet born.
This blog spoke more to me about the depth of human suffering, from a Christian perspective, than all of Lewis's book could do. That's not Lewis's fault - he is a spectacular author and did a great job with the book. But when speaking of suffering, academic treatises just won't do. One word from someone who has "been there, done that" is worth volumes of academic work on the meaning of human pain.
In some ways, that very fact is an answer to my "why?" - suffering occurs, in part, so that we will have the ability to comfort others. We can all sympathize, but one cannot truly comfort someone who is hurting until one has been through it oneself.
I was floored by this young mother's Christian maturity. I'm not saying stoicism, resignation, or anything like that - I'm saying the ability to trust God, to keep coming back to him even in the midst of hurt - something I haven't quite learned.
Here's something the mother, Angie, says regarding an earlier pregnancy with twins, in which she very nearly lost both babies:
"I was on magnesium sulfate for three and a half weeks (the stuff is nasty...I hallucinated that my IV pole was a robot and told Audra to let the trick-or-treaters in one night...she told me she loved me, put on a Jim Brickman CD, and turned off the lights). I was on a lot of medication to keep me out of labor, including a pump thing that I had to inject myself with. Time passed slowly, slowly. I was really scared and depressed, and I want to tell you something else, because we are all friends here, and I think you should know.
"I hardly ever opened my Bible.
"I believed in Him. The whole story. I loved Him fully, but I learned to keep Him at arm's length in the event that He let me down. I hate that part of the story, and if I could do it over...well, I can't. I just have to know that He pursued me even when I acted like a jilted bride. He wanted me when I didn't want Him. He taught me about Himself, even as I resisted loving Him back. I am forever grateful for the tenderness He showed me during that time, and the grace He showed me when I came running back with remorse in my heart."
How she felt then is how I have felt over the past couple of years. Yes, I love God, but I want to keep him at arm's length. Having seen how deeply he hurt me in the past, I feel like I can't trust him now. I'm still working on this. But I didn't open my Bible for almost the entirety of my pregnancy, and have had a hard time since.
I have spent a lot of time unconsciously debating between physical and emotional pain. Which is worse? How to compare the two? etc. etc. Although it's an interesting question (which is worse? unbearable physical agony, or unbearable mental torment?), it really doesn't have any purpose. Suffice it to say that pain is pain, torment is torment, and the resulting spiritual downward spiral can be the same.
This woman is an example to me, and I hope to follow her lead in terms of trusting God, studying the Bible, and preparing myself spiritually.
Life has rather frightened me ever since hyperemesis. That disease gave me a brief glimpse into the unplumbed depths of human suffering that lay open to each of us, and it is impossible to know which types of suffering we will each encounter in this life. Right now I am unprepared, spiritually speaking, and I know it - for physical or emotional pain. I'm trying to work through things from my time with HG, but I know that I need to quit wasting time and jump back on the bandwagon. Even if I never get pregnant again, suffering will intrude into my life in some form or another, and I need to be spiritually ready.
I really recommend this blog!