It's Monday. I'm spending some wonderful time with my husband and my family before Cameron and I go back home. Caroline is safely laid to rest. We're done with pretty much all of the pressing events and arrangements. Now it's time to "get back to normal." Soon Cameron will go back to work, we'll be back home, doing our "regular" routine, as much as possible. We know that our normal is never going to be the same normal we had before Caroline. But we also know we're going to have to adjust and function. I'm curious to see what happens when we are there next week. I'm sure God will be faithful, just like He has been, to comfort us and gives us peace.
I've been amazed by the peace I've felt throughout the past few weeks. There have been the moments of craziness, but overall, I've felt a great amount of supernatural peace. I've also felt what I can only describe as relief. I know Caroline is in a better place than this crummy old earth, and that I now know what will happen to her. When she was still here in my womb, I had to live with the questions and uncertainty about what God's plan was. Now I know. Even though that plan has brought the pain of loss, it's also brought the joy of knowing where Caroline is, and that she's healed and perfect in God's presence. God has worked, and will continue to work, everything out for the best. From how we found out about Caroline's condition, to the ability of family to support us, friends to be there for us, the way she was born, the timing of everything, and now the way we've laid her to rest. It's all just incredible. He has truly worked everything out for us.
I can specifically recall one day in the past couple weeks where I just missed Caroline a lot. I started crying...ok sobbing...asking Jesus to heal the hurt and help me through the hard moment I was in. In the middle of a raging fit of tears, I literally felt the urge to cry dry up. It wasn't because my emotions stopped or because I went into some weird shocked or numb stage. I literally felt the weight of pain lift from my heart, and some crazy weird supernatural peace filled it's place. It was like I was watching the end of a dramatic tragedy, then all of a sudden the movie changed to a fairy tale with a happy ending. My heart ceased feeling the enormous pain of loss and instead began to feel the amazing joy of salvation and peace. I don't mean to say that I stopped feeling the loss entirely...that will never happen. What I'm talking about is a God who cares enough to bind up the broken-hearted, make heavy burdens lighter. He made me feel, almost physically, that I don't need to be sad for Caroline. She's in perfect peace with our Lord. I also don't need to mourn her loss, so to speak, because I haven't really "lost" her, I just have to leave her with Jesus for a while till I can get to her later.
I don't mean to say I won't mourn her loss, or that it's not ok to mourn. Jesus himself wept when one of His friends died (John 11:35). I figure if Jesus shed some tears over the loss of a friend, who He then raised again to life, then it's ok for me, too. But what I mean is the depth of my sorrow has been lessened so significantly it almost doesn't feel like the sorrow for the death of someone I love. I don't know what the future holds for me when it comes to emotions and pain, but I do know God will continue to help me through each moment.
I know I've said over and over again how much I've grown and changed throughout this situation. It can't be overstated. I am not the same. God has completely carried me throughout this whole time with Caroline. I would not be where I am right now without His grace and mercy, picking me up and carrying me through the darkest days of my life. Looking back, I can see clearly how He was hanging on to me, not letting me fall into despair or rebellion, but clinging to my hand, showing me the way to go, toward light and life, not darkness and death. Because He has brought me to where I am, I know I am where I'm supposed to be. I know I'm in the right place.
Not only that, but I also feel blessed to have had this experience. That may sound crazy, but it's true. I think I've seen and felt a side of God most people don't get to see. I've been drawn so closely into God's loving arms as He's carried me through this time, that I know and have seen a part of Him that can only be seen when you have been broken and devastated, and then healed by Him. I know I'm still healing, but I've already experienced a lot of healing. I would not wish the pain I have felt on anyone, but I would love for everyone to experience the joy and peace I have felt because of my loving Savior.
Part of that blessing I mentioned has been the change in my perspective. I truly look at everything differently. That's not to say I have achieved perfection and never lose sight of my goal. But I will say that I look at Heaven in a totally different way now. I look at this earth in a totally different way. I look at time differently, I look at children differently, I look at parenting differently, I look at myself differently, and I definitely look at God my Savior differently. I know now what is truly important. It's not the typical, "life is short, make the best of it" stuff. It's something deeper than that. I now realize that "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). While I'm here on this earth, Christ is everything. He rules everything. He gives and takes away, He is the power behind everything I do, He is the giver of peace and grace, mercy and love. He provides me with everything I need, He leads me where I need to go, He teaches me the important things, He strips away that which makes me rebel or think less of Him. I used to be comfortable here on earth. I used to long for a long life, to experience all the things I thought were too important to miss before going to Heaven. Now I realize how ridiculous that is. I still would like to experience certain things here on earth, but I'd be ok if I got to go to Heaven now. Kind of like Paul, I feel torn between the desire to remain and the desire to depart (Philippians 1:22-24).
Once again, I cannot take credit for anything. God is doing all the work in my life. I have chosen to let Him, yes, but even that has come from His grace and power. I have had to ask for help for everything over the last few months, and I hope that I can continue to. It's only when I'm weak that He is strong, so I would love to remain weak in myself so He can be strong in my life.
As I go through the next few months, I'm sure there will be many weak moments. I'm sure I will need God to take more burdens from me. I'm sure I'll need more grace and peace. I'm sure I'll need His strength to carry me. And because He is faithful and loving, I know He will. I know He'll give me everything I need and more than I ask for. I know He has a plan for me, and it's one for my good, one to make me prosper, and not one to bring me down or destroy me. I am so grateful for my wonderful God. I'm so grateful He saw fit to give me the gift of Caroline, both as my daughter and as a way to draw me closer to Him and change my whole life. To God be the Glory.