Ash heaps

Ash heaps

This week I received a letter from Arrow Adoption Agency inquiring about our case file. We hadn’t gotten any more paper work or requirements met and they were wondering if we were still interested in adoption at this time. With a bittersweet feeling, I wrote them back letting them know that we actually just had a baby 4 months ago and to please keep our family’s paperwork on file. (You cannot adopt from this agency within one year of a death or birth in the family)

That must be why this crossed my mind at 2am this morning while rocking and feeding Ezra.

Ash heaps.

The thing we like to remember the most about Job is when he lost everything he had and still proclaimed “Blessed be the name of the Lord”. We find comfort in the words and the thought that no matter if the Lord gives to us or takes away things in life, we will praise Him. Because He is worthy and loving. It’s true. He is. But we never think about the ash heap. We never think about Job sitting and scraping his boils in absolute “God just kill me” grief, among ashes. Maybe it’s that we don’t think that is worthy of anything? Maybe we assume that when Job boldly proclaimed his faith no matter his state, that was more pleasing to his Creator? Maybe we think that when we feel desperate and broken somehow that doesn’t also bring glory to the Lord? Maybe it’s not as praise worthy? Or maybe it’s just not as pretty? I’m not sure what it is about us that lifts up one and forgets or dismisses the other.

I sat in an ash heap on and off for two years. In absolute grief and pain. And like Job, at times, “God just kill me”, grief. Job even went further than that…he wished he had never even been born. That’s pain. That’s “being at the end of yourself, don’t understand anything in life”, real, deep pain. For me, that is comforting. Job was human. It’s the kindness of the Lord that would add that to the story. The goodness of a loving Father who knows his children. He knows we will feel this way in life. He knows that an example of a person who lost it all and just went on bounding through life with a smile on his face would never encourage the broken. He also knows, there isn’t a human on the planet who would respond that way, even though we sometimes try to portray it as such.

It amazes me, when reading Job how he first did have such a seemingly strong, full of faith response. Then moments later, he’s covered in ashes wishing he’d never been born. That’s how grief works. It comes later. The deep pain always comes later. Maybe we’re just in shock at first. Maybe it’s the Lord’s grace that keeps us strong in the moment. I’m not sure…but I do know it always comes later. I had several people ask me, “But you were so strong before, why are you upset NOW? How did you get from point A to point B?” Almost a “What did you do wrong?” kind of question.

Though, I didn’t do anything wrong. Funny how Job’s friends thought that too. I think honestly, humans just want a quick fix. With themselves, and with others. We want out of that ash heap as fast as possible. We want others out of their ash heap even quicker. Quite frankly, if it were up to us, there would be no ash heaps. No grief. No sorrow. No loss.

As I sat thinking about all of these things, I looked down at the baby in my lap. Soft puffy cheeks and long beautiful eyelashes that curl up all the way to his expressive perfect eyebrows. Such a sweet beautiful gift. Then it hit me. What if there was no ash heap? What if there had been no miscarriages, no grief, no loss. Then I wouldn’t have this baby. I remember crying out to the Lord, with each loss “But I wanted THIS baby!!!” The Lord knew. He knew which baby he would grow to fruition. He knew which baby he would lay in my arms. It would be this baby. Of course, I see it clearly now.

It was impossible for me to imagine this outcome while I was in the ash heap. Though, it was in that ash heap that I came to the end of me. In the ash heap that I questioned and searched God. All that I’ve read and heard about God became visible as He began to show me Himself, just the way he did Job. It’s there in that ash heap that I saw His grace and love. Patience and power. Gentleness and greatness! He picked me up out of that ash heap, dusted me off, kissed my cheeks, and sent me back into a life he would bless more than I could imagine. A new love, a new life that I would never have apart from that ash heap.

I love the Lord’s middle of the night lessons to me:

“Don’t belittle or underestimate what I’m doing in the midst of an ash heap. In your life, or the lives of my other children.”

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