Since I often talk about the importance of getting into the Word, I started a series where I share one scripture or passage of scripture each Wednesday and talk about why it has meant so much to me. I hope it encourages you to get into the Word and to use these scriptures as starting points perhaps, but to also find meaningful things in the Bible on your own as well.
Ever since my first miscarriage I feel like I've been on a roller coaster; highs and lows that I feel are out of my control. But I've noticed there is one thing that keeps me stable, and that is God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 says that it is ALIVE, meaning that we can interact and engage with it! When you open His Word with an open mind, He will fill it as you read and you will walk away feeling encouraged, challenged, peaceful, and joyful no matter your earthly circumstances!
Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ.
| GALATIANS 6:2 |
This verse is very special to me because it inspired the name of the Etsy shop my best friend Melissa and I own called Burden Bearing Baskets.
Melissa lost her daughter, Audrey, on Valentines Day in 2014 and at the time I wasn't even married yet and had no idea what she was going through. But she was my best friend so I started googling "how to support someone with micro preemie in NICU" and then, sadly, "how to support your friend when her baby dies." I literally had NO clue, I hardly even knew how to put into words what I was searching for.
As I researched I quickly realized that reading blogs seemed to be the best route. I loved reading personal stories of other women who had similar stories to Melissa and learning what helped them and hurt them the most. And even though I read dozens of blog posts and articles, I'm sure I still did some things wrong and said some hurtful things. But I pray she knew my heart's intent was to help her bear her burden.
I'm a really sensitive soul and I'm aware that I feel other people's burdens much more deeply than other people (such as my husband ;] ) do. And my heart broke for Melissa. I know that it didn't break into as many pieces as Melissa's did, but I wept over Audrey's loss. As I would read blogs that women wrote detailing their own heartbreak, I could only imagine how Melissa was feeling and it brought me to tears.
Something I read over and over from every bereaved mother was how hard it was after people began to move on. Even years later, it hurt when people didn't acknowledge their loss anymore. So I told Melissa that for the rest of our lives I would be there in her grief; I told her I hoped she always felt like she could talk to me, even if we were both old ladies in our 80's because I knew she'd never stop missing Audrey.
Eventually, Melissa sent me a quote from the book I Will Carry You by Angie Smith (who also lost a daughter named Audrey). In the book, Angie was talking about friends who were really there for her and she thanked them for not being afraid to "step into her grief." Melissa told me she felt like I was one of those friends for her. That is one of the most humbling things that's ever been said to me. I feel like I get it wrong more than I get it right, but the point is that you just have to show up. That is how we often bear the burdens of others. And what is really special is that after both of my miscarriages, Melissa was that friend for me.
If you ask me, there are few things more sacred in a friendship than entering into your friend's grief and just sitting there with her.
It bonds you in ways that almost nothing else can. I have a few other friends who, like Melissa, weren't afraid to step right on into the mess of my losses and I can't even tell you how much I love them for it. It intertwines your souls together. Truly-- it is sacred.
I think fear is the biggest reason people don't enter into another's grief. It's not that they don't want to, they just don't know how. And I didn't know how! I literally spent hours googling what to do. And even when you research what to do or you've been through something really similar, it is still hard! You're still going to say the wrong thing at some point or feel super awkward because you don't know how to respond to something.
But when someone starts talking about their burden, and invites you in, listen. It's a sacred space and not everyone is invited to go there.
Don't panic about what your response should be as they're speaking, because no one tells you about their burdens in hopes that you have the magical answer to their deep heartache and suffering. They just want you to listen. It feels so good to share a burden with someone sometimes. It's a reminder that we're not alone.
I know how painful it can be to feel like you're all alone, and I don't want other people to feel that way, which is a driving force behind why I try to help bear the burdens of others. God uses us sometimes to remind people that they are not alone. So when someone comes to your mind and you know they've been going through a hard time, reach out to them and let them know. It is such a gift!
To wrap up this post I want to share about my friend Elizabeth. About six months before my first miscarriage I stayed with Elizabeth and her family in Des Moines, IA. We stayed up talking super late every night and one night we talked a lot about Melissa and her loss of Audrey. Elizabeth is a lot like me-- extra sensitive to what other people are going through. And I just shared what it was like walking with Melissa through her grief and we talked about a lot of the misconceptions of how to help people as they suffer.
That was at the end of May, and by the time I miscarried in November I had completely forgotten about that conversation we had. Elizabeth lives over 700 miles away, so she couldn't show up physically, but she showed up in every other way that she could after my miscarriage. She texted me just about everyday for the first few weeks checking in on me. At first I didn't respond because I didn't have the strength to really respond to anyone, but that didn't stop her (thank the Lord!)
I can't tell you how encouraging it was to have a friend that was persistent in that time. It's easy to totally overthink a text message you send to someone going through a hard time, thinking it offended them or something, and then never texting them again. But the vast majority of the time someone doesn't respond is because they are just tired and may have a lot of people reaching out to them all at once.
I can't remember when, but I eventually told Elizabeth that she was such an unexpected blessing to me as I grieved. I never would've expected her to be just what I needed in that time.. she was younger than me, she had two healthy children and had never experienced loss, and she lived so far away. Then she reminded me of that conversation we had six months earlier and told me that the words I shared about helping Melissa are the words she used to help me. The Lord works in such beautiful ways!
When He puts someone on your heart, He's calling you to bear their burden. It is a heavy, sacred calling, but you are fulfilling the law of Christ when you abide in that calling and it will bless you just as much as it blesses the other person!
Remember to check out what my friend Anne Marie is doing over at The Loved Bible Project! She wrote this sweet post about Wednesdays In The Word and how we are teaming up! Each week I will continue to post about a scripture that has helped me in my time of loss and Anne Marie is going to make a free printable that you can find in her Resources page! We encourage you to print it out and spend time soaking in God's Word as you decorate it and then include it in your own Bible or start working on a Loved Bible!