I am continually amazed how many of life's most valuable lessons grow from the rocky soil of life’s deepest pains.
The date wasn't circled on our calendar, but recently my wife and I noted that 10 years have passed since she experienced a miscarriage. Her medical files would record it as her third pregnancy, but we would remember him or her as our third child.
My wife was moving into her second trimester and the pregnancy was progressing just like the first two. But on a peaceful, windless Thursday afternoon, she suddenly saw warning flags.
Kodi called the doctor and an appointment was set for the next morning. That evening we stayed up late talking about what she was feeling physically and emotionally and preparing for whatever might come the next day.
We prayed together and I remember feeling as if the words weren’t mine. I had the undeniable impression I was merely repeating whispers in my worried ears.
The thoughts broke my heart, but I knew I must share what I’d felt. With my hands in hers, I told her that I knew that all would be well and good the next day, but that God's definition of “well and good” would probably not be ours.
In other words, we were to prepare for the worst and accept that our Father in Heaven would care for us and ensure all would be well.
The next morning, we drove to the doctor and awaited his examination and report. With professional but sympathetic eyes, he informed us that the pregnancy was no longer viable.
In the time it took the words to tumble from his mouth into the air around us, our baby transformed from a living, breathing child to a sterile medical term.
If you or someone you love has experienced a miscarriage, you know the script. In those seconds immediately after, expectant mothers and fathers feel as if they’re the very first parents in history to hear those words and feel that pain. You watch as a doctor in a white coat with his hands shoved into the pockets looks at you and delivers news he has delivered many times to other women before and will yet deliver to many others.
But you don't care that there have been others. You only know that in that scene, you are the lead actors.
A D&C — a dilation and curettage — was scheduled for the next day and my wife spent most of the 24 hours in-between appointments on her knees praying for strength and understanding.
The procedure was a success and it was no surprise to me that despite the natural anxiety and fear, my wife persevered with courage and left the hospital with the assurance that the spirit had tenderly prepared us for this very outcome.
In the days that followed, we learned that several of our friends and even a few family members had also experienced miscarriages, some of them more than once. We were grateful for so many ears to hear and eyes to see the sadness that hung around our home like an unwelcome houseguest.
In due time and with a clean bill of health from the doctors, we decided that our season as new parents had not yet passed and that other children remained with a boarding pass for our family journey. Still, the question lingered: would it happen again?
Eighteen months later, after a tense and anxious pregnancy, my wife gave birth to our first son. He was happy, healthy and we smiled as his sisters smothered him in love, kisses and pink dress-up clothes. After three more years we had another son and he became the caboose to our family train.
Indeed, all was well and good.
A decade has passed and I’d never suggest we’d choose to experience that trial again. It was difficult and we asked all the typical questions that mortals ask when heaven tries us beyond what we perceive as our limits.
But while I might trade the salty pain, I would never swap the sweet lesson we experienced in a quiet living room late one evening. Just like loving parents comfort their children, sometimes even in advance of pain, we learned that heaven is willing to do the same.
A decade later, the lesson remains written on our hearts. We know that heaven is organized by eternal truths, but our earthly vision is limited by the here and now.
No one knows what hurdles remain on the map of our lives. But we do know that whatever trials may come, God’s definition of “well and good” is the only one that matters.