The banquet room sparkled with excitement as waiters removed our dinner plates and topped off steaming cups of coffee. I reached toward the center of the table and selected a dish of chocolate mousse. I was attending a bloggers’ conference with hundreds of women from all over the country who loved the Lord and wanted to reach others through blogging. We networked with one another and attended sessions about how to write compelling content, attract readers, and manage the technical side of writing online. The room relaxed as we rearranged our chairs to enjoy a warm drink and listen to the evening keynote address.
We applauded as Angie Smith made her way up to the stage. I couldn’t believe that she was speaking at this conference. I had just read I Will Carry You, a book Angie Smith wrote about carrying her baby, Audrey, to term, despite the doctor’s prognosis that her daughter wouldn’t live long after birth. Audrey did, in fact, die shortly after birth. The book is heartbreaking and helpful.
Here was Angie, at the blogging conference that would keep me occupied as my baby’s due date came and went. I originally thought I would have to miss the conference because I would be in my hometown delivering a full-term baby, healthy and happy. But I had delivered my baby four months ago. She was stillborn.
Earlier in the evening, I had introduced myself to Angie and told her how much her book meant to me. She listened intently, as if I were the only grieving mother in the world. She hugged me and looked in my eyes and asked, “What is your baby’s name?”
I paused and swallowed hard. “Her name is Juliette. Juliette Abigail.” I felt like she was the only stillborn baby in the world.
Angie smiled tenderly and said, “What a beautiful name.”
Now, as Angie adjusted the microphone and shared opening remarks, I tried to think about something other than my grief. Then—out of the blue—she said, “I wasn’t planning on doing this, but if you have lost a baby to death in any way, would you stand up?”
My heartbeat quickened and my cheeks flushed.
Would I stand up?
I felt fragile and sad. Isolated. I had come to this conference to get my mind off Juliette, and yet she was everywhere.
I quietly placed my coffee cup on the table, pushed back my chair, and stood up.
As I did, the entire room shifted. Other women—at my table and around the room—put down their coffee, pushed back their chairs, and stood up.
I lifted my head and looked around.
Most of the women were standing.
Not for me or Juliette, but for their own loss, for their own babies.
I was not the only grieving mother in the world.
My baby was not the only stillborn baby in the world.
This roomful of women had lost so many babies.
So many babies.
The first thought that crossed my mind was, what if they were here with us? The room would double—maybe triple—in size. Children would be running around, laughing, eating off our plates, growing up all too quickly. The room would be full of precious little heads of curly hair and straight hair. We’d be surrounded by unique personalities and all kinds of ways of doing things. And we’d see God’s grace and image, woven beautifully into each child.
We gasped and looked at one another through tear-filled eyes.
I don’t remember how Angie moved on from that alarming moment.
I certainly don’t remember how she tied it to blogging.
I do remember that she was warm and encouraging. And I remember that, for me, this conference wasn’t about blogging. It wasn’t about platform, strategy, or networking. For me, it was a conference about the cost of being human in a world given over to death and decay. It was about our Heavenly Father standing with us, knowing the grief of losing his own children to sin, and therefore, losing his only begotten Son to save us. It was about the wondrous—and mysterious—promise that God himself subjected the world to suffering with the hope that we would “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20)
And it was about a Savior—the Man of Sorrows—who, when asked to carry us despite our fatal prognosis, carried us all the way to the cross.
“Surely he has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4)
Jesus was “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” He was “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities,” so that we would be revived from death, reconciled to God, and welcomed to God’s throne of grace. Those of us who have lost a baby can turn to him for true sympathy. He understands. He gives mercy and peace, strength and hope.
Later that evening, a worship band took to the stage. My emotions were raw, and I needed to be alone with the Lord. I found a private space in the back of the room to talk with Jesus about the cloud of sorrow that filled my heart.
In the middle of their set, the band began playing a song based on Job 1:21, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” The lead singer spoke into the microphone, “Would you stand up and join us in blessing the name of the Lord?”
Would I stand up?
I knew I didn’t have to. (Jesus saw me and loved me even as I sat in the shadows and wept.)
But I wanted to.
As I stood, other women stood, too.
I wasn’t the only one.
The room shifted with conviction, hope, and trust.
We had a living Savior.
I reached out for his comfort and sang along.
About the Author:
Laura Booz is the author of Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood and the host of the Expect Something Beautiful podcast with Revive Our Hearts. She’ll cheer you on, share practical ideas, and point out the beautiful ways God is working in your life. She and her husband, Ryan, and their six children make their home in Pennsylvania. Meet her at LauraBooz.com.