Friday, March 18, 2011

Refiner's Fire

Dear Luke, This week has been a tough one. One of the worst I've had since Christmastime. I thought I was doing better. Sure, I thought of you everyday. I've missed you like crazy and shed a few tears each day over you, but I was getting to the point where, more and more, I was able to think of you and smile. My little blessing. My bearer of "light". Your very existance is a miracle and that thought made me smile and feel wrapped in the arms of the love of God. But not his week. This week has been very, very dark. My whole soul has groaned under the weight of this burden I carry. I more than miss you, my son. I yearn for you, ache for you, scream for you, and yes, even curse God for taking you. I feel as though I am being tortured; tormented by my sorrow and the stark contrast of those revelling in happiness. Earlier this week I was in such a dark place that I felt I could hardly take care of Halle and Sam the way I wanted to. So I took them out to lunch, bought them a happy meal (something I rarely do), and let them play at the playground. This helped my mood for a while, but soon the despair snuck back in. Finally I sent the kids to a neighbor's house to play until their dad got home and I went out by myself, hoping to get a grip on my life. I did not hesitate on my destination - I was heading to a house of worship, knowing that feeling the Lord's spirit was the only relief I was going to get from my pain, even if only for an hour or two. On my way, I drove past another of our church's buildings. It was a beautiful building, built by pioneers shortly after settling in Utah. Around Christmastime it was all but completely destroyed by a tragic fire. It took hours and hours for the fire to be extinguished. And when the fire was finally gone, all that was left was the empty shell of a once-majestic building. No time was wasted on cleaning up and restoring the building. The foundation of the building remains strong and unchanged, most of the outer structure is intact and useable, but the entire inside was gutted out. Its remains lay on the middle of the lawn, ugly and burned and exposed to the whole world. The building looks sad. Broken. Defeated. I know how you feel, I think and then I cry a little for both of us. There is that scripture about the refiner's fire and how each of us is perfected through our trials. I feel like my refiner's fire has left me nothing but an empty shell. My foundation is still the same - I still believe in God and His ultimate goodness. I still have my husband and two living children. In fact, these things seem to have actually been strengthened by the "fire", rather than destroyed by it. But otherwise, I feel as though everything inside of me has been destroyed, painfully removed, and laid in the middle of the street for everyone to gawk at. I tell myself all of this is for the best - for both me and the building. While this building was beautiful, it while be remodeled so that its space is better utilized. The inside will be safer and made even more beautiful than before. I tell myself that the same is true of me. I will be a better person because of all of this. I will be more useful in God's hands. My soul will be better, more beautiful. But right now it is hard to see that. All I see is an ugly mess. I think of others around me. Each going through their own refiner's fire. Each as difficult as the next person's because they are designed just for them. We're each so different on the inside and therefore endure different refiner's fires to beautify and perfect our souls. But why is it that I only see smoke around other people. I know several people who have had babies over the past few months. Each came with a different set of circumstances, different concerns about the pregnancy or labor and delivery. There seemed to be billows of smoke around each of these situations with the very real possibility that a terrible fire lay within. But luckily that's all it was - a bunch of ugly smoke. The damage was quickly assessed and taken care of, and now each mother has a beautiful baby sleeping peacefully in her arms. While I would never want another person to go through what I am enduring (I would NEVER wish this hell upon my worst enemy - if I had one), I don't understand why they only dealt with false alarms and I was given the real deal. Why couldn't mine have just been a false alarm too? Why can't I hold my son in my arms right now? What have I done so wrong in life that I needed more refinement than others? I can't help but think these other women must have much better, more refined souls than mine if all they needed was the thought of a tragedy to perfect and beautify them. Clearly I needed the real deal. Two NICU experiences clearly weren't enough to teach me what God had in mind for me. He had to take my youngest in hopes of me becoming who He needs me to be. I know I'm far from perfect, but I try awfully hard to be someone the Lord would be proud of. I try to raise my children unto Him. So why? WHY all this?! I know we're told not to question God, but I can't help it sometimes. Sometimes I am just so angry! Was my soul so useless and ugly that it had to be completely removed and replaced? Did I really need a complete renovation of my life? I'll be better in the end. I remind myself of this over and over. I feel God's hand at work. He hasn't left me alone. My remodel work was begun as soon as the damage was done. But it still hurts. The pain is extruciating and literally knocks me to the ground at times. I'll be better because of this. Right? Missing you, Mom


  1. While it's impossible not to do sometimes, can I just encourage you not to compare your trials to the trials of those around you? It's kind of like the "what ifs".....if you dwell on them, they'll eat you alive. It's natural to find ourselves falling prey to them occasionally, but you need to push them aside quickly. Allowing them to take over will change absolutely nothing about your situation, except to make you feel completely hopeless.

    I remember past converstaions we've had about our NICU experiences. I remember reading your blog posts when Sam was in the NICU. While we both endured many similar things with our tiny little babies, I had a little bit of a hard time relating to how you were feeling. Our perpsectives while going through those experiences were very different. For you, it was the worst thing you'd gone through with your child. I had stood in harder places (places that you now understand), so I felt nothing but pure joy at being able to stand by my babies bedsides in the NICU and see them scream from the pain of the many pokes they received, simply for the fact that they were ALIVE. For you, the NICU experience was fire.....from someone with a perspective like mine, it could have appeared to just be smoke.

    I recently had my temple recommend renewed, and the counselor from the stake presidency doing my interview reminded me that the Lord chastens those whom he loves. When you're in a place like you are right now, you might wish the Lord loved you a little less ;) But you're right--you'll be better in the end. You WILL. The blessing of time enables me to feel gratitude for where I am and what I've been through. Certainly, if I had a choice, Zoey would be here with our family. But, I'm far happier having had to go through this experience and know that she'll always be mine, than to have avoided this pain and not had her at all.

  2. Oh, and PLEASE call me when you're having days like this. I'll try to be more in tune with the spirit to know when you're needing a little extra support, but don't be afraid to reach out and ask for it too :)