I know my writing hasn't been the feel good, laugh out loud kind of experience that I'm usually going for. I haven't recently regaled you with the antics of my boys. There's been pain and sadness and stories of tiny caskets and itty bitty footprints. The entrances of each of my children into this world have marked me in indescribable ways. All three have brought with them a certain amount of drama that has changed me, tremendously.
None, perhaps, quite so fiercely as Kate.
Kate has changed my own relationship with my Father and my Savior. I understand that grief makes people turn away, makes them angry, makes them want to shake a fist at the sky and scream, "How could you? Why? Are you not just?"
Somehow, though, that just hasn't been my experience. Oh, I have grieved this baby much like I imagine I would have grieved her had she been carried in my own body. Perhaps that is the blessed miracle afforded to me as a result of raising a child I birthed and a child I didn't. I love them both with shocking intensity--neither less or more than the other. Kate didn't have to be wrapped inside my body to matter. She needed only to be woven in my heart. When we lost her, I didn't want to yell at God.
"Are you not just?"
No. Not really. Because justice is giving me what I deserve. Justice is not blessing me with an incredible husband and two gorgeous boys. It certainly isn't everlasting life. Justice is eternal damnation. When we shake our fists at God, are we not screaming, "How dare you take my child from me?" Who are you to do such a thing? And then, I suppose, He would gently say to us, "I know what it is like to lose a child."
I think that is why, instead of feeling angry, I longed only to climb into His mighty grip, to instantly turn to worship. There was tremendous comfort in knowing that God watched as His son took the weight of the world's sin to the cross. He felt the searing anguish of a heart squeezed too tight. He understood the tears flowing freely down. There was peace in knowing that He sees the entirety of eternity from forever to never ending and I only see the thirty seconds that are right in front of my face.
I'll be honest. I didn't pray much in those first few days. In numbness I couldn't think of anything to say. When I tried to pray, I became overcome with devastation. My words became confused sobbing. But I craved music. I longed for melodic worship. When I couldn't find the words to praise His name, I turned to ones that had already been written. I sang.
On our drive to California, we listened to praise and worship albums over and over again. Songs that declared His goodness, His worthiness, His love for us. There was a time when Desert Song began to play. Through tears and tormented heart, I sang. It was ugly singing--off key and full of choking sobs--but I wonder if, perhaps, my raw, shattered praise sounded better to Him than anything I've ever sang before.
The bridge repeats. Over and over again. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship. All of my life, in every season, you are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.
Ever. Always. We worship.
It wasn't until much later that I even remembered the story behind its original recording. I'd shown the video several years ago at our annual women's retreat. Jill McCloghry, one of the two lead singers, had given birth to her baby boy at 23 weeks. He'd lived for a very short time before departing for eternity. A week and a half later, she was scheduled to record Desert Song.
I just watched the video again. In it, Jill says, "I know that my circumstance, in this season, doesn't change that God is still God. It doesn't change what God's called me to be or what He's called me to do. And He's still on the throne in Heaven, you know? And He still rules and He's still bigger than everything that I'm facing."
In our sadness, in our grief and our anger, it is easy to blame God. We blame Him because we understand His strength. It is because we believe He is powerful enough to have changed the outcome that we feel tempted to yell because He didn't. Instead, though, we need to walk through that sadness with holy reverence. He sees how the pieces all fit together and we do not. He knows the future and we do not. He loves with a perfect love and we do not. He does not change. He rules over our every circumstance.
I had to sing. We exhausted every worship album we had in the car. We got up the next Sunday and went to church in California and worshiped--through tears. Thirteen days after I first heard that my daughter had died, I was scheduled to be on the worship team. I told my husband that I was going to sing. He told me that everyone would understand if I took some more time. I appreciate his support and the fact that he didn't put that expectation on me just as I appreciate the fact that our worship leader told me the same thing. But what would I have been waiting for?
Whether in joy or suffering, hope or despair, prosperity or adversity, He is always worthy. When I worship Him, I am drawn near. When I worship Him, I feel His radiant light. When I worship Him, I get a small taste of His glory.
I have needed to sing--whether on key or off--to bring Him just a small offering. Here's my heart, Lord, broken into a million little pieces. Can you put it back together for me?
"I think that you look at God and you say, 'I know this is who you are.' And He does get bigger in your life and it takes over the things in you that feel so, you know, shattered, and it makes Him the focus and it begins to put those things back together." Jill McCloghry