Story Behind the Art: Remain Under
In the winter of 2007 my husband and I timidly admitted to one another and family that we were going to try to get pregnant. I fluttered with nervous energy and excitement. After we flew by the 3 month marker we didn’t think much of it, then 6 months, then 9, then a year. At the year marker friends started saying things like “Do you think you should see like a specialist?” That’s when “trying” started to hurt and bring anxiety. We did some early testing and found nothing. We made minor changes to our life, minor chances to our “trying” schedule and nothing changed. People started praying for us in church services and offering us small bread crumbs like “God’s timing is perfect.” Meanwhile Landon and I wrestled with powerlessness wondering “Maybe God just knows we’ll fail at parenting so His answer is no.”
After a little over 2 years of trying I found out I was pregnant in January of 2010. I buzzed with emotion - I remember feeling special in a grocery store. I was nauseous. I was exhausted. I craved biscuits. It was perfect. We told everyone under the sun. God had answered our prayers!
Then, on a Wednesday night, one day shy of my 2nd trimester mark, cramping, bleeding and terror seized me and I miscarried. In one harrowing night I lost everything. The next morning an ultrasound confirmed everything (and every one) was gone.
That miscarriage unleashed a sorrow in my I’d never experienced. Over the course of those following months my emotions were a violent sea and I was drowning. I was overwhelmed by myself. I cried so much I didn’t think I had water left in my body.
The lights in that storm were the constant grace of my husband who never reproached me. The persistent love of truly the best friends who embraced my grief and allowed me to be a mess. And the last one is surprising - boxing matches with the Almighty.
After the miscarriage the gloves came off and I regularly prayed accusatory and inflammatory prayers (calling them prayer is slightly irreverent - I yelled at God). I held nothing back. I raged at Him and threw every thought His way. In return He gave me silence - which made me even more angry.
The mystery in it all is I am convinced it was this wrestling that made all the difference. Because somehow in this season I came to know Jesus a the dearest companion who entered my grief and sat with me in it. After months and months of yelling, my prayers turned into questions which turned into genuine asking for help.
One day I was driving home, bubbling over with sadness, and all I could think of was “I want out of this!” I didn’t know really what I meant by that, I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to feel the way I felt; I didn’t want to be grieving, swallowed in fear, overshadowed by powerlessness and saturated in pain. I heard clear as a bell in my heart “Stay under this.”
You can’t be serious, Jesus. The thing I wanted to escape - Jesus was telling me to stay there. So I asked for help to stay.
One week later I listened to a sermon over James 1 where James says “Consider it all joy, brothers, when you face trials of many kinds knowing that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) The preacher focused in on the word “steadfastness”. It is a compound word in Greek meaning “remain under.” Fireworks shot off in my head “stay under this.” That’s what Jesus was telling me - this is what He meant! Enduring the pain, staying under it, looking to Jesus moment by moment to survive the grief - this is what it meant to “remain under” and the practice of “remaining under” would work to perfect and complete my spirit as I am made more like Christ.
There are a handful of turning points in that mourning season and this was one. “Remain under” reminded me, multiple times in a day, not to escape the pain but endure it, looking to Jesus to sustain me and trust it will work good in me even if all I feel is grief.
And wouldn’t you know it, now almost 10 years after that miscarriage I have found God faithful to His word. I am not perfect or complete but I have grown, my roots have pushed through the soil of adversity and found the water of Christ underneath. I have found a way to be watered in the desert and endure harsh circumstance. “Remain under” continues to help me today, in small and big ways and that is why I am happy to offer it to you.
Whatever you are facing, in all your suffering, turn to Jesus and remain under it. You won’t be able to bear up on your own but, if you come to Him in need and ask for the help to endure, He will do it and you will be changed by remaining under your difficulty.