Good morning friend, I hope as you sip your morning coffee and read through this page or two you are lifted up by the truth that celebration is a gift! We all know the saying “Comparison is the thief of all joy,” right? When we go through seasons of comparison, where we do not feel like any of our dreams are coming true and everyone else’s are, it can be hard. I think waiting seasons are some of the hardest to not let bitterness come in through comparison or just sadness over our wait. When my husband Casey and I first moved to Florida I started a Bible study at our house on Wednesday nights. As we discussed a topic for our study the first few meetings, many of the girls were struggling with knowing their purpose and struggling because they were in a waiting season. They were waiting for their dream job, their spouse, a better living situation, a painful situation to end, and so many other things. Almost every one of us as we went around the circle, sharing our struggles, were stating struggles with comparison when it seems like everyone else has something better. If we allow ourselves to think that way, no matter how good we have got it we will always feel this sense of discontentment because we are trying to live someone else’s lives, not our own.
One of the best messages I have ever heard on comparison and longing during waiting seasons was at The Grove in Atlanta, a women’s event hosted by Passion City Church and Shellie Giglio. DawnCheré Wilkerson was speaking and she preached on Psalm 118:24, “This is the day The Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, ESV)[i] She discusses how the Psalmist in this scripture was actually going through a very rough time and it would not have been the obvious response for him to be celebrating. I believe when we decide to say “I will rejoice and be glad in it,” acknowledging where God has us in this waiting season, we are able to endure much more and cheer others on along the way. One of the only ways I have found to truly cripple comparison and beat the enemy at his own game is to celebrate others. A self-help book I was reading recently did not simply talk about self-love like a lot of these types of books do. The author, Stephen R. Covey says “What is self-love is actually self-discipline.”[ii] What if learning how to stop struggling with comparison does not take us having some dramatic good thing happen in our life or us having something “better” than that person we struggle with comparing to, but what if it is an internal battle? “Religious leader David O. McKay taught, ‘The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.’ If you win the battles there, if you settle the issues that inwardly conflict, you feel a sense of peace, a sense of knowing what you’re about. And you’ll find that the public victories–where you tend to think cooperatively, to promote the welfare and good of other people, and to be genuinely happy for other people’s successes–will follow naturally.”[iii] If you do not know my story, I was an All-American cross country and track runner in High School until I fell and tore both of my hips and had a lot of other health issues that beat me into the ground until I quit running competitively 8 years later. I know that for me, when I activated discipline to ask God for help to cheer on my friends in high school and college when they were getting to win state, conference, go to nationals, doing the things I had loved before my injuries, I was able to be so much more joyful.
My husband and I started trying for kids about a year and a half into our marriage, in December of 2021. January 6th, 2023 around 3PM I got home from an appointment and noticed Casey was out running some errands so I had the house to myself. We had been trying for our first baby for about a year now and I was pretty accustomed to my period just starting and informing me that there would be no baby that month. I had learned so much about celebrating others during the year of waiting for our positive test because everyone in our family got pregnant without having to try and I was constantly buying people baby clothes, listening to birth stories and helping throw baby showers. However, this month I was a day or two late and had an opportunity to take a test very quickly before Casey got home. I ran into the bathroom and set up my little vlog camera I had set up so many times when I had taken pregnancy tests before so I could record a sweet and happy reaction for whenever that day came. Fully expecting the test to be negative I covered it up for the allotted three minutes the Clearblue packaging tells you to wait for. Before looking at the test I held it up to my camera for Youtube to see and out of the corner of my eye I saw a reflection of the test in the mirror and I gasped. The wait was over. Tears immediately streamed to my eyes and prayers of “thank you God, thank you Lord,” came out in between the sobs of joy. The wait was not over though, a much harder wait was just about to get started. At around 11 weeks pregnant I was at the emergency room at ten o’clock at night miscarrying and laboring with our first born. Just a few short months later we miscarried again. Eighteen months of praying for our baby and we had two in Heaven and none earth side.
If you have been through a season of grief so deep you don’t really know how you will be able to breathe again then you know how I felt these spring months of 2023. My world came crashing down over and over. The thrill of seeing a positive pregnancy test I had waited all those months for seemed somehow tainted now. I remember during the intense period of sadness following the first miscarriage I almost never stopped crying. I felt empty, numb, and depleted of everything good. However, these days had me dreaming, not even just longing for, but almost drooling over the thought of going to Heaven. Losing your baby you dreamed of, carried, and never got to meet creates a sense of longing and heart break that will never fully pass no matter how much “time heals.” I have been working on a book to be published next year for quite some time now and the subtitle is “Fixing our Eyes on Jesus in the Midst of Broken Dreams.” In the book I write a lot on Hebrews 11 and 12, the “Faith Heroes” section of the Bible. I had written just weeks before our baby left us to be with Jesus on these Scriptures. And now thinking, “Wow, I thought I knew how to fix my eyes and long for Heaven THEN, but now….” I have never ached so heavily to go to a place before. My longing to meet my babies and stop experiencing the pains of this earth side life ate at me like nothing had before. I was continually reminded that this place is not my home, and thank God for that. I was continually and forcefully reminded where my eyes should be fixed and where my true and only source of hope comes from.
People always say God is near to the broken hearted because of Psalm 34:18. It states, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath” (Psalms 34:18 MSG). If you are currently living in that “gut punch” but you haven’t been able to catch your breath yet, I am with you. It is all good and well for me to write another sweet “trust God” and “fix your eyes on Heaven” blog to remind us of Biblical truths, but it is another thing for me to sit here and say “I get it, I am broken into pieces and shattered on the floor right now too.” I am not perfect and after the second miscarriage there were a few days where for the first time in my life I could say I felt mad at God. There were several things going on in our lives other than the first miscarriage before we were surprised and then devastated by the second pregnancy and I remember begging God for relief. Before the second pregnancy even came into our awareness/existence I was on my knees asking God to make things good again because there was more “bad” going on than I had ever experienced in life. There were family things, marriage things, work issues, ministry things, my health post miscarriage was horrible, and others that felt like they were all about to make me implode into a fury of grief and sorrow and rage. I had never felt mad at God before and I wouldn’t even fully say I was mad at Him now, I was offended. My prayers felt like a broken record repeating, “I trusted you!!! I know you are good and I trusted you with this so how are you allowing this?! Father, how on earth is this what you call good?” I know we all have those big questions in our life of, “How could a good God allow bad things?”
During our two miscarriages at the end of a year and a half of trying for a baby it took genuinely all the strength in me to not want to yell at every mom and pregnant woman around me to stop complaining about anything moms complain about (because mumming is very hard and even as someone who wishes more than anyone to be a momma and hold my babies I still recognize it is one of the hardest and most important jobs there is!). I wanted to scream how incredibly lucky they were to get to kiss their baby, to rock them to sleep, to be the one who sees them wake up from every nap, to know what their wailing cry sounds like in the middle of the night. It ate at me like a sickness how hurt I was by person after person who got pregnant not just once, but twice within the timeline of us trying for a baby and losing two. However, when I allowed myself to feel the anger and rage and bitterness it did not help my pain at all. If anything it only made my pain worse because it stopped me feeling my own sorrow and grieving and led me to anger instead.
When I did not activate that discipline of celebrating others, when I decided to sit in my sorrow and feel bad for myself, I would feel hateful things towards those friends and not want to cheer them on. DawnCheré discussed this in her message at The Grove. She realized in the middle of her eight-year journey with infertility that she had a choice. She could choose to cower away, to be bitter in the wait and feel hatred towards all of her family and friends who were able to have multiple children before she could conceive, but instead she learned to choose celebration. She showed up to the baby showers, got the best gifts, loved her friends a little extra who had kids and needed help. She showed up in the art of the discipline of celebration. Because she realized, it is our call to say “This is the day The Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24). She knew she had a good God, with a good plan. She learned the grit of endurance through the discipline of celebration. You see, she learned to invest her time in praise instead of wasting her time. She learned that she did not need a new circumstance, but a new perspective.
Psalm 145:13-21 says, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.] The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145 ESV). God opens His hand and “Satisfies the desire of every living thing.”
Yours and my story are the same in the sense that He is writing them and He is a much better storyteller, future planner, and author than any of us could ever be. I just sat in bed crying a few weeks ago before falling asleep because I had seen God’s faithfulness in my waiting season in so many special ways. However, I wasn’t crying over His goodness, but my lack of it. I knew I would have seen His faithfulness in my story so much more if I had been more faithful to listening and learning along the way. When we lean into the wait, when we ask Him for sweet reminders along the way, He gives them. I am leaning further up, further in, while fixing my eyes on Heaven. I am asking for more sweet reminders throughout my day that no matter how bad it gets I can still see His goodness in the land of the living. I will leave you with 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For the light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” God has so much for your story, so much He considered it worth dying for. Do not give up, keep your head up and your heart strong. I am praying that these words give you fresh wind in your sails and the confidence to dream again while you celebrate others dreams coming true. No matter how many dreams get broken in this broken world, Jesus will always be there waiting to remind us He is our number one dream. Here is to breathing dreams like air friends. May you give your lowest for His highest and take on the spiritual discipline of celebration that you were made for!
[i] DawnCheré Wilkerson, The Grove Podcast Episode: May 4th, “This Must Be The Place.” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/this-must-be-the-place-dawncher%C3%A9-wilkerson/id1441017228?i=1000559564944
[ii] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey. Page 77. Simon & Schuster 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020. Copyright 1989, 2004. 2020 by Stephen R. Covey.
[iii] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey. Page 348. Simon & Schuster 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020. Copyright 1989, 2004. 2020 by Stephen R. Covey.