Tonight, as I sat with another woman who has been coping with loss for many years, I was reminded of the power of like-minded friends. If you surround yourself with positive people, people who truly believe and have overcome trials and hard times, you will prevail. But if you surround yourself with pessimism and anger, you will stumble.
"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17
As she and I sat and talked for hours about pregnancies, our babies, our losses, the blessing of our living children; as we cried together, ranted, and laughed; I felt encouraged. I felt lifted up and blessed. Every word and tear was a relief, and as we shared our failings and our struggles, we were able to find words of encouragement and truth for one another.
It's so amazing to me to see the Lord's hand in my life in such a visible way. People are put into your life when you need them, to support, inspire and encourage you. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to talk to so many women in the past few months who, despite their struggles and losses, are able to be positive and loving. They are not defined by their struggles, but rather are refined by them. Shaped into stronger, more loving, passionate, supportive women.
Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10
As our conversation wound down, it turned to the gratefulness we have for our living children, and for the time we had with our lost babies. We both agreed that ultimately, the biggest lesson in struggles and loss is to be grateful for every day. We wanted to tell every person we knew to be grateful for the unpleasant side effects of pregnancy, to be grateful when you put your child in time-out, to be grateful when your teenager yells I hate you. To be grateful for every moment. Or to as least try.
Because life has only one guarantee; if you trust in the Lord your God, he will welcome you into Eternal life with Him. Nothing else is for sure. Nothing else is deserved. We are blessed to be His children, and we should live every day grateful for the blessings and trials He give us.
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:2-8
So will you let your life DEFINE you? Or will you let it REFINE you into the person the Lord is calling you to be?
I am not defined by my struggles or losses. They will always be a part of who I am, I carry them in my heart. They have and will continue to impact my life, but I am determined to be better for them, to grow, to overcome. And with His help, someday, I will perfect in Him.