It is said that change comes with growing older. Supposedly you become more mature and are therefore more capable of making wise decisions, as well as seeing things with a clearer sense of reality. I would tend to agree with this idea… As the year begins, as I am a year older and as David’s Hope enters our 8th year, I thought I would take a moment and reflect on some lessons I have learned.
I think it is important to start with, the beginning of the journey. My wife and I have always leaned very conservative in political beliefs, and our activities reflected this. Being adopted, I always felt drawn to being involved with pro-life groups… This eventually led into pro-life activism. It was during some activism that we learned of our first miscarriage. In 2008, we lost Esaias; then in 2010, we lost Eleazor as well. Like many people, we struggled to make sense of things; but one thing was certain- our course in life had shifted dramatically.
In 2009, after our first miscarriage, we left pro-life activism to walk a new path… A path that has taken us, and molded us, into what we are today.
We wanted to honor the memory of our sons, and after learning of so many other people’s experiences, we wanted to be a part of starting a healing community. Our first official thing we did all the way back in 2009 was a simple naming service. We set a time on the calendar and opened up to others the opportunity to come and remember their babies. I think we had 5 or 6 families attend… This led to vision casting, and the idea of a memorial garden was born. We had an architect put together some artwork and design for what it could look like, and we began a very slow trek to making vision reality.
I say slow because we didn’t really know what we were doing, and we were very nervous and unsure how to proceed. So we intentionally took our time- a lot of time- trying to learn, to make sure things didn’t go faster than what we were capable of handling.
We started out by sharing our vision and inquiring about making the garden happen. Then we started putting together memory boxes. At first, those were only given locally, but after we sent one to a friend in another state, it very quickly grew to having requests from all over the nation- and not long after, into other countries. So we began listening to stories from so many affected by miscarriage and stillbirth, praying with them, being a part of their heartbreak, sharing in their grief.
In 2013 we formed a steering committee and filed with the state, and then the IRS. We began arranging a local Wave of Light Candlelight Vigil, in accordance with the international one that happens on October 15th (2018 was our 5th year doing this). We slowly but steadily grew bigger… In 2017 we started the Pink and Blue Fun Run in Nampa. And in 2018 we worked with city officials and other community members with the amazing results of having pink and blue bows placed throughout Nampa during the October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, as well as having a permanent, public memorial placed for families to go, remember and reflect on the life of their babies.
It has been quite the journey, and it looks to continue moving forward. We are excited to see what happens this year… We now see that our original vision of one memorial park may become a reality in a different way, as more cities have expressed interest in putting together pregnancy loss memorials. What we originally viewed as one location may instead be multiple.
Now, for what we have learned. This is the main thing that has been on my mind the last few weeks. In our tragedy, and in the tragedy of others, we have come to see this important fact: Everyone hurts. Allow me to explain. As I stated before, we were- and still are- very conservative in our political beliefs. However, political beliefs do not define who we are. Rather, they are an expression of our life experiences. We have, over the past 8 years, ministered to Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Wiccans, Atheists, Agnostics, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, God lovers, God haters, the righteous, the not so righteous, the sinners… You get the point. I think we have wept with someone from just about every background. And consistently, there is one common thread that weaves through every person- sorrow. No matter race, political or religous background, every parent that has lost a child in miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss- every one has gone through sorrow. All have had to carry grief. We have all entered into this community, and in this community there are no borders, no boundaries, nothing that seperates us from others.
It is in this community that a valuable lesson can be learned when dealing with humanity. That lesson is simply this: That while we by nature will have differences of opinions and beliefs, it is possible to set differences aside and come together. We can all learn to love, we can learn to see past prejudices and focus on the fact that we are all created in the image of God, and through Jesus Christ His Son we all have the opportunity to become children of God.
I encourage you as you set your feet to 2019 that you stop when encountering others. Do not look at what you see outwardly, but rather look at them as God does. See them for the fact that they are just as loved as you are, by our Creator. Instead of attacking over differences, try to understand how their life experiences have shaped them, and offer hands of hope and healing to them.
In the end, we will always have our differences. There will always be absolute truth, and the world will always be filled with lies. There is darkness, but we are called to be light. There is hate, but we are called to love. And we are called to be there for others, to speak truth in love, with emphasis on love.
We all hurt. But we can make a difference when we choose to love.