Monday, November 28, 2016

From Before Life's First Cry

There are some lyrics in a popular song that remind me of past posts I've shared. The song is called "In Christ Alone" by Keith and Kristyn Getty (who I recently heard in concert, by the way, and am hoping to make it to their Christmas concert next month)! :) Anyways, the song is well-known and I've heard it many times before, but recently heard it live at their concert and knew then I wanted to write about it.

Anyways, the lyrics say, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

I know obviously they don't mean anything hurtful or wrong by this, but with the way my brain works because of Lily, I don't like these words. Jesus commands our destiny from the moment of conception to final breath, even after final breath when all who are in Christ will go to Heaven. He still commanded Lily's life and destiny, though she died before taking her first breath or crying at all. His purpose for her life was not thwarted by the lack of her first cry.

Going along with this, earlier in the year, I watched a movie called "Where Hope Grows," which is centered around a man who could have been a baseball star and a young man with Down Syndrome. It is a moving story of friendship, redemption, and the value of each life. Did you know that about 70% of children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb are aborted? As if they are any less valuable or worthy of life. It just breaks my heart. Every life is such a precious gift and there are many lessons we can only learn from the weakest among us, as Gianna Jessen, who survived an abortion and now lives with Cerebral Palsy, says.

There was one part that rubbed me the wrong way, though I recognize it was unintentional on the part of the producers and writers of the film because they clearly recognize the sanctity of life, though I hope that I can explain why one particular part is a way of thinking that takes away from the value of some.

A Pastor says in the movie: "You look around a cemetery and you see there are two dates on every tombstone - a birthday and a date of death. Every human being is guaranteed those two dates, but that little dash that lies in between those two numbers, that's what defines our life. So make your dash count. Live, really live."

If I had not lost my own child in the way I did, I doubt I would even notice those words. I doubt they'd rub me the wrong way and I doubt I'd pick up on the fallacy of them. But you see, every human being is in fact not "guaranteed" those two dates. My daughter Lily Katherine only has one date on her stone. She has no dash. But that is not what defines her, or any of us. And even though she only has one date, she did "really live." And babies who were lost in pregnancy before they even had a birthday still lived.


I am reminded of a post I wrote 3 years ago about a song I heard that has a similar message. This is from what I wrote:

The song "The Line Between the Two" by Mark Harris has a beautiful meaning that we should live our lives in such a way that we will have no regrets when we come to die. We should live today the legacy we want to leave. Because the fact is we all will leave a legacy... the question is what do we want that legacy to be?

The song talks about "the line between the two," meaning the line on our headstone between our date of birth and date of death. We need to make the line between the two count.

A beginning and an ending, dates upon a stone
But the moment in the middle is how we will be known
Cause what defines us can be found within a line
Finding reason for our time

As I listened to the words of this song, I couldn't help but think to myself... what about when there is no line? What about when there is only one date on one's headstone? When the beginning and the ending are combined? When one doesn't live long enough to have that line between the two? When the death date comes before the birth date? Imagine how that would look on a stone. Does that mean their life didn't matter? Does that mean their life doesn't have significance and purpose because they weren't able to make an impact with the days represented by that line?

God is not confined by that little line. He is such a big, sovereign, amazing God and He does the most beautiful things in ways we'd least expect. He can use a sweet baby who never took a breath or spoke a word to make an impact greater than someone whose lived 100 years on Earth. Let's not put Him and His plans into a little box of our own understanding. He works outside of our lines...

It's hurtful that Lily only has one date that could be put on her headstone. She shouldn't even have a headstone until long after I have one. My friend Stacy whose daughter Rachel is with Lily in Heaven said something so profoundly beautiful regarding this same thing. Stacy and her husband created Rachel's beautiful headstone with their names on it as well. Since they are both still living, there obviously are no death dates for them yet. Rachel also only had one date and this is hard for Stacy. Here is a little excerpt from her blog:
I remember going to the hospital to have her and thinking on the way "I just want there to be a dash"... it's always bothered me that Rachel only has one date.  I wanted her birthday and the day she died to be different.  But what mother wouldn't?
I stared at her name and date for a minute and again was questioning God... "Why couldn't there have been a dash? was that too much to ask?"  I looked at my name, then Matt's... I looked at my date and then at Matt's...  I wondered about our "future" dates....
and for the first time in all the HUNDREDS of hours that I have spent standing on her spot, I looked at the dates differently and I am positive this was a picture God gave me to remind me of His promises.... I saw that we all have just one date.  And God spoke to my heart....
You have one date because you are still alive....
And so does she....

What a comforting thought. Lily and Rachel are alive! More than we ever will be here.

The ending of Lily's physical life is only the beginning of her Eternal life. The ending of her physical life does not mark the ending of her legacy. She is not defined by the lack of a line. She is defined by being a daughter of Christ. There is reason for her time on Earth, though brief. She is not known for the moments in the middle of her birth and death dates, but rather for the moments even before her birth date.

God used a little girl who has no line to forever change my line... now the rest of my days on Earth that make up that line will be spent to honor Lily and bring glory to my Father in Heaven. In being her voice, I will give life to the little girl whose life was so short, yet so wide...

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This post left me:

4 comments:

  1. I will have to read this post again. Lots to reflect on! Yes, every time I listen to that song or sing it at church, I think of my Lily who never took a breath and will not let my mind wander too much because it hurts. I haven't seen the movie and love that you shared about what Stacy had to say about that tiny line...

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    1. Isn't it interesting that those of us who have experienced the losses we have think and feel so similarly? And yet we feel so unknown and unseen by others who haven't been through it. Much love, Naomi <3

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  2. commented on your facebook page, but in case you want your comments here too (I know I like that) here's what I wrote:
    Annnd now I'm crying. I was reading along thinking how I feel the same way about the dash! And then I see my own words written between yours and I don't remember writing them, but I remember when I had that 'awakening' to her LIFE and I'm just so thankful that God gave me other people who know what this means and feels like and who want a dash but find comfort in the HOPE of heaven instead... and I love how you say her lack of a dash forever changed how you live yours... and I just love you both so much. I'm so emotional this week anyway, but God just seriously ministered to me thru your post where He ministered to you through mine - and it's amazing to me how He cares for us. Thank you for continuing to write. I know it's not easy. <3

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    1. Yes, I like to have the comments here too! Thanks for doing that. :)

      Your words touched my heart big time, friend! I love you and Rachel deeply too. It's amazing how God brings us full circle to bless one another. I'm thankful to have others who understand. <3

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