Over the past year, I have said this phrase to many on our staff when posed with an "either/or" type question... I'll answer, "it's not an "either/or," it's a "both/and." I've said it so much that they were getting in the habit of asking me a question and saying my "both/and" answer to their question before I could even say a word :-)
When people ask us how we are doing, almost two weeks removed from Sophie's passing, a "both/and" answer comes to mind:
I'm both angry at God AND I'm finding comfort only in Him.
I'm both absolutely devastated/sad/brought to tears AND I'm at peace knowing she is in the loving arms of her Savior.
I'm both numb to the reality of life around me AND I'm appreciating the extra time to love and take care of my wife and kids.
In some seasons of life, I don't think this would bother me because I am ok living in the tension of "both/and." But what has struck a chord in my soul is not the "both/and" reality, but the huge range of Big emotions I feel, more so like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There are so many good things happening and at the same time, all of it absolutely infuriates me.
I love playing with Nora and Max, but every time I play with them, I feel Mr. Hyde rising and all I want to do is run off by myself and scream because Sophie isn't there in the room, snuggling on Momma's lap, watching her big siblings play with their Daddy.
I am so so thankful every time we receive a gift, flowers, food, etc, but then I feel Mr. Hyde rising and all I want to do is throw it back at the generous person because their gift can come nowhere close to replacing the precious gift of our sweet newborn child.
I praise God for the caring community around us every time I read a message, note or card of sympathy from them, but then I feel Mr. Hyde rising, and all I want to do is rip up the cards, delete the messages and throw them in the trash because their words and prayers will never be enough to heal the wound of losing Sophie.
Edit: To clarify, we love and cherish every gift and kind word from our people. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts. Even though this is how we feel in these moments, we need it more than ever in this season. Thank you, we love you.
I have never been at a place of feeling such a wide and drastic range of emotions in such a very short amount of time. Gratitude to extreme discontent; Peace to high anxiety; Love to bitter hatred; Patience to smoke-coming-out-of-my-ears anger. I'm a modern day case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...or maybe, I'm a little like Jesus in the Garden.
Three times He prays to the Father to change plans, not have Him suffer on the cross, prayers that brought Him to the place of sweating blood.
Three times He tells the disciples to pray with Him as He prepares to face this immense suffering that He has been preparing for His entire life.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth; and then finally, with boldness and courage, He humbles Himself before His Father ("not my will, but yours be done") and then before the religious authorities by not protesting or fighting His arrest. Then, He endures the unfair trial, the brutal beatings, the treacherous walk up the mountain while carrying His cross and then suffering the most physically excruciating punishment known to mankind. Not because He deserved it, but because I deserved it, you deserved it. He suffered in my place, your place, so that we wouldn't have to suffer.
From the people I've talked to or listened to that have experienced a still-birth, they tell me that this "both/and" isn't going away for some time. The grief of Sophie's loss right now is (figuratively) resting directly in the front of my mind. Over time, it will slowly makes its way to the side of my mind and as time goes on, it will find a nice, cozy spot in the back of my mind, never to leave, but not making its grand, Jekyll and Hyde entrance every minute of every day. I know that will take time, not sure how much time, but it'll be some time. And so, in the meantime, I live in the both/and, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Jesus in the Garden, of my emotions and my relationships with others.
I'll go back and forth from loving my kids to not wanting anything to do with them because Sophie's not around to then wrapping Nora and Max up in a big bear hug as tears stream down my face.
I'll go back and forth in one conversation with Maria...from crying, grieving and mourning to then feeling like we should just "get over it" and move on, and then back to sobbing on the floor uncontrollably.
I'll go back and forth to thanking people for caring and praying for us to then feeling like I want to tell them to back off, stop praying and go away because they can't give us back Sophie and their love and prayers don't help at all, and then re-reading a word or note to be reminded of God's love through His people.
I'll go back and forth to running into God's presence for life itself to then feeling like I want to curse His sovereign, good hands for allowing Sophie to die, and then finding myself humming a song of worship in the midst of it all.
I'll go back and forth from soaking in the truths of God's Word to find comfort and peace to then feeling like I want to never read an iota of Scripture ever again, and then reciting a verse reminding me of God's presence that is near to the afflicted and broken.
It's a both/and world I'm living in, praying that there are more days ahead for me of Jesus in the Garden as I process the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside of me.