I was singing my heart out in church, holding back tears. This seems to be what I do lately in church, as I am wrestling so much with myself, with trusting and my faith journey. Smack in the middle of the song, I had one of my first true writer moments. I grabbed my bulletin and pen and wrote the title of this post and a line from the song down.
The song? "Let Our Faith Be Not Alone" by Robbie Seay.
The lyric? "May our hearts be not of stone, give us souls that never close."
As a therapist, I hear terrible things every day from my clients. And, it is not unusual for the thought to cross my mind that someone has every right to stay sick, to stay angry, to have hearts of stone and closed souls after what they have been through.
After infertility and the lifelong losses of three babies, I have also felt as if I have three very good enough reasons to allow my heart to become stone and my soul to close.
But I am learning that this is not meant to be the end of my story. Nor do I want it to be the end of my story; just as I help my clients every single day to make sure that their losses, traumas and tragedies are not their endings, either. Because I also get to hear amazing stories of hope and recovery every single day.
But this recovery requires the choice to choose hope and to do the work.
I will always have the soul scars of infertility and losing my babies. And if I am not careful, these scars could very easily harden my heart and close my soul to the amazingness that is this life. As they are forever scars much like the four-inch back surgery scar I have. Except, my soul scars are invisible to the outside world, and many times are completely misunderstood, invalidated, minimized and sometimes even ignored.
Either scar, back or soul, if ignored by me only worsens; the scar tissue building up, increasing the pain and decreasing my quality of life. For my back it is only through my physical therapy, exercise and self-care that this old injury and scar tissue can be as healed as possible. Nothing I do will ever make that scar go away, but I sure as hell can make sure I do what is in my power to make it as better as possible. And, almost 20 years later, I wouldn't want that scar to go away anyways, as it is a constant reminder of how much strength I truly hold.
As for my soul scars, I must do much of the same work. If I do not do the work of recovery from the trauma of infertility, the lifelong losses and costs of IVF and the ongoing work of accepting a child-free life, I will only allow the scar tissue to grow. And if I am not careful, my heart and soul will scar over leaving room for only bitterness, anger and sadness.
Our trauma, tragedies and losses (infertility related or not) make us who we are. I have learned that I am a better everything because I wanted and loved those babies so much. I am also a better everything because I lost them. Sure, the losses left my heart and soul shattered at first, but now with daily work in recovery, I have a scarred but healing heart and soul.
Scarred but better and complete, and most definitely open.
This openness is not possible without the daily practice of recovery, authentic living and courage. My choices in recovery, in daily practice and my faith are what is required for me to not allow the scar tissue to close everything. And I did not survive infertility and lose my three dreams to only be left scarred, closed and hardened like stone.
I am still wholeheartedly figuring this whole thing out, awkwardly stumbling through this life in recovery. And, sometimes I am not a very pretty picture while doing it. What I think I am finally coming to terms with and learning is that I can trust that the end of my story isn't supposed to be a heart of stone or a scarred, closed soul. That I can trust my faith, doubts and all, because within this journey I will always have Him*. And it is with His acceptance, love and help that I will continue to fight for, find and redefine my ever upward.
*For me, my faith is in God and Jesus as my savior. This is something I am newly figuring out, with a lot of doubt and struggle and questions. But it is something that is helping me, especially in my recovery. My only hope is that we can all find something to have faith in.
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