The Most Godly Woman I Know Has A Messy Home

Silly, silly me.

I braced myself for culture shock when we moved abroad, but I wasn’t expecting the most shock to come to my faith. I didn’t realize God was moving be abroad to change me instead of me being the one to change others.

Cleanliness is NOT synonymous with godliness

One of the first lessons he taught me was that godliness in a woman is not measured by the cleanliness of her home. But oh, did I struggle with this. Part of that struggle relates to how I wrongly was taught and interpreted Proverbs 31.

You can read more about the epiphany on Proverbs 31 I had while overseas, but this is essentially the gist from an article I wrote for TheCourage:

Fast-forward a few years and again in my kitchen as I cooked, I began to listen to a sermon by David Platt on the Cross and Biblical Womanhood. He too was preaching on Proverbs 31, for Mother’s Day of all days.

He laughed at the irony because through his exegesis of the text, he discovered that Proverbs 31’s main audience is not actually married women.

It’s single men.

Yup. You read that right.  I cringe a bit every time I now hear a teaching on Proverbs 31 that doesn’t start at verse 1, “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him.”

So with this frame of mind in misreading Proverbs 31, imagine how judgmental my heart was of a pastor’s wife when I walked into their small, disheveled, and dirty apartment. Yet, this woman was known for prayer vigils late into the night, waking up in the early hours to serve others, avoiding authorities who wanted to force her to have an abortion, and saying, “I’m not worthy of persecution.”

She wasn’t an anomaly among Christian women in other cultures. I visited a stay at home mom who was known to serve other moms through free childcare. She has a messy home even when children aren’t there.

I visited a woman who became a believer because of the desperation she experienced when she gave birth to her Autistic son. She gave up her profession to care for her son full time. She loves on women in her community who also have special needs children. She started a kindergarten for them. She led her sister and her parents to Christ before her father died of cancer.

She was the light of Jesus they needed. She’s giving her home to her sister’s family when she moves abroad, though right now her sister’s family lives with her. This is a really expensive home that she could make thousands of dollars in rent just because of its location, but it’s not as important to her as caring for her sister’s family. She also continues to live out honor and submission before her husband, who is not a Christian, so that she might win him with her life.

Her house is just as messy and dirty as the pastor’s wife I mentioned earlier, despite incomes that are vastly different. Though the pastor’s wife doesn’t have the means to have house help, the rich woman I’ve mentioned does, yet she doesn’t see a biblical requirement to have a clean home.

It’s not poor doctrine or lack of discipleship with any of these women. The rich woman is a reformed Baptist and hosts regular, intense Bible studies. The pastor’s wife has translated English sermons with robust theological perspectives. If you’ve never translated something, translators really learn a topic when because of processing in two languages.

God was showing me that his people are concerned with people, not maintaining stuff. God was showing me that these women had much more spiritual fruit than I did, even with my clean home that really only served to make me feel legalistically righteous.

I believe a clean and orderly home is clearly a cultural and generational requirement or idol at worst and at best simply meant as a blessing for others. But I’m concerned for the women who feel yoked by this and who believe their godliness is tied with cleanliness.

It’s just not true.

When we look at the people of God wandering in the desert, the Tabernacle, though orderly with clear instructions of build, would have been one of the most non-clean looking places among the people. Ceremonially-clean, of course, but it wouldn’t have been squeaky clean to American standards.

First of all, the Tabernacle was erected in a desert. That means dry, dusty land acting as a floor for the court and meeting tent. Secondly, the priests’ clothes, the tent, and the utensils were sprinkled everywhere and eventually had dried blood all over it (Exodus 29:15-16, 21, Hebrews 9:18-22), and these sacrifices were offered regularly. I can only imagine the odor of that tent, not to mention the odor from the actual people of God who were sweating sans deodorant in the desert on the Sinai Peninsula.

I’m sure the Israelite women were excited to keep a tidy and clean tent here on the Sinai Peninsula!

Lastly this was a place for animal sacrifices and this is a faith that uses oil as anointing. Have you ever seen an animal sacrifice? I have seen a festival where blood ran through the streets. It was gross. Absolutely gross. Have you ever had oil poured all over your head like King David? It’s not going to wash out for a few days, just to warn you.

This leaves me to suggest an oderly home has less to do with how the house looks and a lot more to do with the discipleship and spiritual state of the people living in that home.

This faith is messy.

It doesn’t put on fronts, though it does seek to bless others. When I want a clean home rather than to talk with my kids about Jesus or I don’t want people to come over because my home is messy, I need to consider if the clean house is serving God or myself. Because God wants me to love him and other people because of my love for him, not stuff. A refuge need not be squeaky clean.

And what I conclude when I ponder the reasons for my clean house makes a big difference. God has not laid upon me any salvation requirement that my home is clean, and no human has the right to lay this extra-biblical requirement on women.

I hope this helps you break free of any spiritual yoke weighing you down. Your worth is not in your house. If you wonder if a clean home is what God has specifically called for you in your own season of life, ponder:

  • To keep a clean home do I need to sacrifice time in the word to maintain it?
  • To keep a clean home do I need to sacrifice time with my husband or children to maintain it?
  • To keep a clean home do I need to sacrifice my physical health to maintain it?
  • To keep a clean home do I need to sacrifice time serving my neighbors or my church to maintain it?

If you answer yes to any of the above, it is more than likely not something God is leading you to do at this moment in your life. You can talk this over more with those in your life who know you better than me, like your husband, accountability partners, mentors, and pastor.

Lastly if this is something that’s very important to your family, consider if you can financially afford house help. Having homes cleaned professionally can save women a ton of time to instead focus on people.

Cleanliness that is Godly

But there is a type of cleanliness that is godly, and that’s the righteousness you receive when you put your faith in Jesus. It has nothing to do with your physical appearance or the trash status of you home, and everything to do with the inner room of your heart (Mark 7:1-13). Pharisees were concerned with appearances and rules, yet Jesus called them white-washed tombstones. If you have a heart for Jesus you will be passionate for his word, this faith, his people, and the broken.

You can read more about the hope I have in Christ here.

That passion should naturally lead you through sanctification, which is a fierce hate of sin and an ongoing process to see you made more and more into the image of Christ. This cleaning out of your heart should never be sacrificed at the alter of a clean home. A clean home is a cheap replacement in view of the treasures we experience in sanctification.

 

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Photo of Sinai Peninsula Desert via Wikimedia Commons

Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival Presentation: My Foreign Miscarriage

I love China, really, I do.  I love Chinese people.

Then there was that one time I had a miscarriage.

my foreign miscarriage
This is a fake smile. I took this photo simply because I wanted to remember how big I had gotten. My heart is breaking on the inside. Taken at the hospital.

I cried many tears over the lost chance to play with the toes and fingers of my sweet twins.  I noticed I stopped daydreaming, since all of those dreams now acted as grievances with my body.  I also had culture shock with a vengeance.

Sometimes I need to get all of my thoughts out of my head so I don’t mull over them for hours.  I do this most easily with writing, not talking. This is how the below essay came into being.  I didn’t write it for this presentation or any other purposes other than to grieve and process my feelings about a people I love treating me so horribly, but with “good” intentions.

Ember Swift was looking for writers willing to present alongside her at the Beijing Bookworm Literary Festival.  If I hadn’t already processed this grief in this essay, I probably would have said no considering the circumstances. I appreciated that she acknowledged that when she asked me to consider presenting.

If you weren’t able to come to the Bookworm Literary Festival, don’t worry.  An extended version of my short story will appear in Knocked Up Abroad 2, an anthology detailing expat child birthing and rearing experiences.  Ember’s piece appears in the first volume pulled together by Lisa Ferland.

In the anthology, I’ll be answering questions about their gender, names, reasons for my shock among others Lisa so aptly pointed out readers might have.  Below is an edited version of what I presented last night.

My Foreign Miscarriage

“诶!他们死了!” Oh! They’re dead!

For the first time in my life in China, I wish I could truthfully respond, “我听不懂.” I don’t understand.

In disbelief and a faint hope that I misunderstood, I ask the translating nurse,

“Did she say they were both dead?”

“Yes, they don’t have heartbeats.”

As soon as she notices tears under the arm covering my face, she brings me tissues, “Don’t be so sad.” A procession of people suddenly appears in the ultrasound room.

I hear my prenatal doctor commenting. “ 是的. 他们都死了.” Yes. Theyre both dead.

The nurse probes her, “她年轻, 是吗?” Shes young, right?

“是的。很年轻, 她已经有两个孩子.” Yes. Shes young and she already has two kids.

Angry from the chatter, I interject, “他们是男性还是女性?” Are they boys or girls?

The technician answers, “我看不见.” I cant see.

The nurse states, “They’re in a bad position.”

The doctor questions, “她觉得他们什么时动?” When did she last feel them move?

I respond in English, “I felt them yesterday.” The nurse translates.

“不可能,” The doctor adds, “他们已经死了两个星期.” Impossible. Theyve been dead at least two weeks.

That sinks my heart desperately low. Two weeks ago? Could I really have missed that they stopped moving?

Later in the dark and silence of my hospital room, I jolt suddenly from a slow drift of weary sleep, frantically touching my stomach to see if I feel them. I put steady pressure on my womb with my hands. I shake my bulge gently. Nothing. I realize what I’ve been feeling has been their bodies shifting and trading places. I reach back to the only distinct memory of their kicks before that night. Several weeks ago, my daughter wanted me to hold her at church while I stood: her legs and my hands straddled the top of my bump. Even though I kept most of the pressure off of my belly, they kicked her, and the force almost knocked me back into my seat.

 

The doctor inquires, “她朋友来了吗?” Did her friend come?

The nurse whispers, “她自己来的.” She came on her own.

Sharon, the nicer translating nurse is by my side now, holding my hand. She searches my face. In return, I search her face gelled with worry. My tears pool and burn behind the dam of my eyes, preparing to leak, but I fight them. My face sours in battle. “Don’t worry,” she says. I only stare in response. Both nurses help me up. I wipe my belly and follow Sharon outside, averting my eyes from the pregnant women waiting for their turn in the ultrasound room; women who have nothing better to do than wait and study the bellies of other patients. I feel shame since my tears publicly disclose my secret.

Sharon walks and talks in imperfect English about what to do next. Thrice, she encourages me to contact family members before I decide to have the “surgery” at their hospital.

 

Sharon tells me to sit down in the waiting area and to call my family. She sits next to me with her face still gelled with worry.

“Don’t be so sad. You’re still young, you can have another,” she tells me.

I gently respond as I hold her hand, “I understand you are trying to make me feel better, but you shouldn’t say things like that to mothers. That doesn’t make me feel better, that makes me hurt more.”

Her face reflects horror and shock, but also reveals her genuine intentions.

 

I call my husband, then my supervisor, then my friend, then my husband again, then my husband’s boss. With each call, I cry, dry up and calm down; cry, dry up and calm down. Sharon interrupts me to tell me I need to call my insurance for preauthorization. I call and then hand her the phone once I realize explaining so soon to a stranger is too difficult in either language. I’ve already cried and dried up so many times now.

 

Approval is granted, so Sharon asks me to sign, agreeing to my own torment. She takes me to my sleeping room. Our first 24 hours of the 96 we spend trapped inside the hospital are filled to the brim with sober meetings with Chinese doctors; pestering, mixed-English questions from busy nurses; and phone calls from eager friends and acquaintances, wanting to express their condolences or to visit.

Our first group of visitors is a throng of student nurses, who have come to “study me.” My normally patient and ever-bearing husband forcefully says, “This is not the time for that. Please leave.” Friends who arrive need my comfort more than I need theirs, and one steely coworker surprises me with her quivering cry and quick breath. Even a superior forgets his propriety to argue the benefits of Chinese medicine versus Western ways. Without fear, I reprimand him, “Let’s talk about that another time.” In the face of death, the famous Chinese composure melts away.

In the 25th hour of our stay, I’m scared and grief-stricken as they wheel me on a bed toward the operating room, where I’ll be without a translator and without my husband’s hand to hold. I fight back tears as I glance at the nurses’ faces from under my blanket. One is an older woman, who looks at me with knowing, empathetic eyes. The other is a young man with Korean-style glasses and a shaggy haircut.

At the door of the surgical wing, my husband obediently stops, and another busy nurse continues on with me.

She asks, “小床在哪里?” Where is the baby bed?

The others ignore her.

She calls out, “嘿!别忘了小床!” Hey! Dont forget the baby bed!

The old nurse hushes, “他们死了.” Theyre dead.

The loud nurse’s eyes meet my eyes and linger. I wonder if she wonders if I can understand.

Inside the operating room, the older nurse leaves me with two young, fresh nurses and a stocky male nurse. They’re laughing and joking around. I wish that the older nurse had stayed and held my hand, or that I would have had the courage to reach for hers.

As everyone waits for the surgeon to arrive, two of the nurses busy themselves with something to do, while one fresh nurse comes to inspect me.

“你会说普通话吗?” Can you speak standard Chinese?

“一点点.” A little.

“你很漂亮.” You’re very pretty.

“谢谢.” I respond as usual. Thanks.

“你不要了, 是吧?” You don’t want them right?
“他们都死了.” They’re both dead. Tears begin to fall down the sides of my face into my ears.

As she tries to wipe my face, she hurries to say, “啊!别哭了!你很漂亮!” Oh! Don’t cry. You’re so pretty.

I turn away from her, disgusted, and she walks away.

 

I continue to cry, slowly, quietly letting out tears and whispering to my heart that this is goodbye to my twins. I’m telling them goodbye with this procedure; I feel like I’m ejecting them from my body. The older nurse returns to the room and comes back to my side for a second. She sees that I’m crying, but she responds with merciful silence. She is whisked away again to another duty.

The fresh nurse walks back toward me and sees I’m crying.

“别哭了!” Don’t cry!

“你是母亲吗?” Are you a mother? I ask her, hiding my irritation.

不是.” No.

我需要告诉但是我不要告诉,所以我不能哭了.” I have to say goodbye to them, but I don’t want to say goodbye, so I can’t not cry.”

She doesn’t wipe my face, and she walks back to the desk station in the room. She doesn’t return to talk to me.

 

I cry angrily in my heart, “Oh my dear twins, I want you. I want to hold you. Your daddy wants you. We want to name you. Your brother and sister want you, too. We don’t want to say goodbye. We value you and treasure you. You are both unique and special. I cannot have others like you.”

 

The surgeon arrives to end my hospital bright white purgatory. Her ruby earrings and her ornate glasses match. I try to steady my breath and heartbeat when I see the needle. The needle is not small. I want to be able to watch so I can deal with my pain, but my lifted gown obstructs my view even with my neck weakly bobbing my head in the air above my bed.

The ruby studded surgeon looks at me and says, “一点点痛.” A little pain.

I’m breathless from the sting when she inserts the needle. I try to control my body to keep it from moving, as everyone yells “别动! 别动!” Dont move! Dont move! But every muscle tenses from the aching flood spreading across my stomach. I feel heat emitting from my body and sweat tickles my head at my roots in protest. As she moves the needle inside, I cry out in pain. Again they rebuke, “别动!” Dont move! I wonder if Chinese women bear pain better than I do, or if the doctors lie to everyone. The rubies flash as the surgeon fills my womb with liquid. My stomach feels full now, but my heart is emptied.

After the insertion and filling from the second needle is finished, I’m not bothered for a few brief moments as the staff prepares for my move back to my room. I whisper, “Goodbye. I love you, both.”

 

After I am home again, I ask a Chinese mother and friend what she thinks about what was said during my hospital stay.

I tell her how others have said, “At least you have your body.”

“Do you know, your husband is great? He is a great man.”

“At least you have two children. Be thankful for them.”

I tell her how others scolded me about taking care of my body in the process of my grief.

She tells me she wouldn’t like their words either. She tells me that these doctors and nurses, and others, they don’t know what to say to comfort me. Especially for the elder Chinese, they have experienced famine, drought, and revolutions. They just want me to focus on what I have, focus on the good still in my life.

Birth and death are the most powerful, uncontrollable events we all experience in life. Birth and death humble us all. Birth and death connect us all. What can a baby say to birth or anyone say to death?

And for the second time in China, I wish I could truthfully say, “我不明白.” I don’t understand.

At the panel there were some issues that were brought up, like Chinese women being shamed for having “caused” the miscarriage by doing something wrong.  If you have experienced a miscarriage, you did the best you could with what you knew to do, what more could you have done?  I treated this pregnancy the same as my first two healthy “successful” pregnancies – what could I have done differently?

If you haven’t dealt with grief of your own – this post might be informative.

 

Comment below.

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To my Friends Grieving for my Miscarriage – Or Your Own

In the last three years, I’ve experienced several different instances of death concerning children.

The first was witnessing up close the third miscarriage of a friend in the States.

The second was my first miscarriage in the States.

The third was seeing Daviana’s experience with Tiana after moving here to China.

The fourth and fifth was witnessing from the outside the extreme grief of an acquaintance.

The sixth has been our own experience with our identical boy twins, Perez and Zerah, who died prematurely.

 

With the first experience, my husband and I wanted to be there for our friends who were grieving. They had been trying for so long, and this was their third miscarriage. I couldn’t easily relate to my friend’s scientific curiosity in the death of her child. We accidentally outstayed our welcome when we were there to grieve with them, but they graciously and gently asked us to leave so they could mourn alone.

With the second experience, I was only 8 weeks pregnant, and since I did not want to be pregnant, I felt guilty in being a bit relieved the life of this child was simply not meant to be. My body and my emotional state was taxed from having had my daughter in 2011, my son in 2012, and then expecting this child in 2013. This expectation was too much for me. The miscarriage felt like a mercy.

Feeling guilt was what made me grieve for a long time for the loss of this child. My friend from the first experience was able to comfort me that she had too felt this way at one point about one of her three miscarriages. And my feelings went back and forth. If we had been under different circumstances, I still would have to have born this child. His/her name is Zadok (just/righteous) or Azariah (Yahweh’s help). One day, I look forward to holding and loving this child, too.

 

I definitely learned the most about grief in the third experience. Standing on the sidelines of Davi’s grief and having the opportunity to write an article about her experience has helped me in my current situation. She taught me that people can grieve about many things, not just death. She also explained that a death can conjure up grief for others, especially friends and acquaintances, who might end up not knowing how to deal with grief from previous experiences that wasn’t dealt with in the first place.

What was hardest for her was losing friends because of their grief. She also told me people in general don’t know how to respond to the person most affected by a death, (the spouse, the parents or the siblings of the deceased). People can be afraid to ask how someone else is doing, afraid to say the wrong things, or afraid that the one mourning will break down and cry. She also told me about in some instances people would break down and cry, and the mourner would be the one comforting that acquaintance!

In the fourth and fifth time, I experienced what grief felt like to a stranger – the very awkward outside party. When I witnessed the pain of someone who I didn’t know well, I was at a loss about what to do or what to say. I felt grief for her. I hurt for her. But I didn’t know her well enough to feel comfortable in expressing my pain for her to her. I felt it was just best to pray for her.

 

And the sixth time has been the strangest, but most encouraging of deaths. All I can say is that I feel weird in having joy out of this grief, but I can’t help but be honest. That’s how I feel. Of course, I didn’t start with feeling joy.

A nightmare came true in finding out they had no heartbeats. I was in pain to know I would never hold them. I had been surprised to find out I was pregnant, but I eventually grew to having extreme joy and expectation in awaiting the arrival of twins! While I waited for others to come care for me on that first day at the hospital, I sat in the waiting room with uncontrollable streams running down my face. I hid my shame by looking out of the windows and avoided eye contact with curious strangers. While I sat there, I had daydreams about the dreams that had been smashed. I daydreamed about the hugs I would never have, the cries I would never hear, and the fingers I would never hold.

At first, I was straightforward with those who said things I didn’t like. “You’re young.” “You’re pretty, don’t cry.” “You already have two.” “You should follow this traditional Chinese regimen, or you’ll feel it 20 years later. There is scientific proof.” Really, these are awful things to say to someone who miscarried in the midst of the moment, and this only brings more grief and pain because the person saying them doesn’t understand what I’m going through. I explained to them that although I understood that they were trying to be helpful and make me feel better, what they said just hurt me. “Please don’t say this to someone else,” I gently told them all.

Then the visitors I had varied in their responses to their own grief. Some were very emotional; some reflected our attitudes of joy. We comforted many in their pain, too.

We cried the most on Monday; we recited scripture to one another, and we listened to worship songs. I cried many times that night and that next morning. Our changes in attitude of great grief toward great peace and hope came slowly over Tuesday and Wednesday. When I had the first dose of injections to induce my labor on Tuesday, I felt like that was saying goodbye to them. In a way I felt like I was giving up on hope but also accepting that they had died. We continued to pray and worship with our translator. We had many times of Bible study. We updated our friends and family, all around the world, and we felt their love and support. I got the chance to take pictures with my belly; I had only gotten one pregnancy picture, and I didn’t want that to be the only one. I knew I would regret that.

17 weeks twins

We continued to point our eyes toward Jesus, and to point other’s eyes toward Jesus, too. Labor on Thursday was hopeful because I was going to get to see the twins and see their genders. We would finally get to name them. Our prayers were answered in Bobby being there with me, and he was pivotal in helping me keep my mind off of the pain as I pushed and bore through the contractions. Finishing labor also meant being on the final stretch toward home.

 

During my time of trouble over this week, I was encouraged by these verses:

Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

1 Corinthians 15:55 “‘Death is swallowed up in victoy.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’”

2 Corinthians 16-18 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Genesis 3:16a “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children…”

These songs helped us grieve and worship throughout the week.

 

And writing this is cathartic.  To some, this might be weird that I want to do something when everyone else suggests I rest, but I’ve been resting and waiting and processing since Monday.  My body just needs to catch up with my heart and soul.

I want this post to express my love and understanding to my friends but also be a voice for women feeling the same as me in any of those six scenarios I wrote about above. The first half of Genesis 3:16 was so encouraging because I saw that we are all linked in grief through childrearing. There is pain in childrearing, not just in labor and delivery; that’s mentioned secondly in the verse, but not necessarily the primary mention of pain related to children. Childrearing brings grief to us through deaths, parenting struggles, heartache, and infertility, even if we are not the women directly experiencing the main mechanism of grief at the time. Even as bystanders we experience the grief of others.

To my friends grieving for my miscarriage - or your own

The pattern in all of this is that everyone experiences and deals with grief differently. With how at peace we feel, we can only imagine others do not feel that same peace at this moment. Maybe they haven’t been able to process how they feel about our twins’ deaths. Maybe this conjures up feelings for them they have buried before. That’s all okay. Please grieve. Please feel like you can talk to us about your pain, (if you even want to do that).

Let’s do one another a favor and leave judgment behind, realize we’re going to process differently, and humbly ask one another, “How are you doing with this death? Do you want to talk about it?”

So, much love and grace to you, dear ones.

Losing Tiana: How Daviana’s Story of Child Loss Changed Me

I’m not a fan of copyediting and copywriting. I really don’t like marketing gigs either. I just don’t have passion for helping people sell products I think are overpriced in the first place. But, I’ve had to pull my weight as a writer, just like everyone else. Once upon a time, I listed my own copyediting and copywriting Elance profile. I accepted dirt-cheap pay for jobs I loathed.

 

Moving on from that, one of my favorite parts about being a writer is giving a voice to the voiceless and vulnerable. The more I write, the stronger my platform, and the louder I can make my written voice. I felt empowered to make true change after I wrote Inclusive Education: What does this mean for children with special needs? in last year’s December 11th issue of City Weekend Beijing Parents & Kids magazine. Immediately after the article was published, one of the contacts I interviewed attested to the support he was able to garner from his school administration.

 

After I wrote that piece, I became much more knowledgeable about differentiated and inclusive instruction. The research and the interviews I conducted changed the way I viewed the Chinese education system and how I treated children in my classroom.

 

And that leads me to my second favorite perk of being a writer. I’m changed through writing. Real stories and real people reach out to me and cling to my conscious in a way that fabricated movies, television shows and RP games just can’t. I forget movies almost as soon as I see them, (a blessing with movie blunders).

Daviana Winger personal loss grief and friendship

But last month, I got to share part of my own story when I wrote about Daviana and Luke’s loss. Even though I wrote the story in an “as told to” viewpoint, I already knew huge chunks of the story before I sat down for my first recording with her.

My kids and I arrived second (after the Chinese neighbor), when the accident happened.  I saw the bag.  My kids and I experienced, along with her two boys, many of the in and out waves of friends, coworkers, BICF attenders and strangers who came to extend their care, toys and food.  I attended one of the hospital prayer meetings with an out of town friend when Bobby was able to stay home with our own littles.  Bobby and I met Daviana’s mother and aunt for the first time, and Luke’s mother for the second time.  We prayed alongside our Chinese speaking neighbors at Luke and Davi’s home, and then later alongside our English speaking neighbors at another teaching couple’s home.  We attended the memorial service to say our goodbyes to Tiana and show our support to Luke and Davi, but I still hold on to regrets of not having been a better friend to Daviana before the loss.  While Tiana lived, I had held her once or twice.  Such a beautiful, short life had sifted like sand between my fingers.

Tiana losing a child grief loss and friendship

What feels like much later, but in reality was only a week after her mother’s month stay was over, Davi invited me to go rollerblading.  I love rollerblading, and I gladly accepted the invitation, (when she has asked me to run or go to Zumba with her, I’ve refused all but one invitation to date).  After briefly catching up on “normal” life details and once we were puffing through our masks, I casually asked her how she was doing, despite how uneasy I felt to even broach the subject.  Although I learned a lot about trauma and loss during the hectic time before this rollerblading session, I learned the most about being a friend while I witnessed Daviana grieve so openly.

 

She processed her thoughts with me.  She was patient with my questions.  We both started to understand sometimes we just needed a sympathetic ear, whether to process grief or any of the many troubles life brings.  Although I can’t say we are best friends, I can say we are able to comfort one another during times of hardship.  I wish I could say that hasn’t technically been tested, but Bobby and I had our own share of personal hardships since living in this community.  Not the kind that makes us want to pack up and leave for the States, but the life hardships that bring humiliation, remorse, anguish and/or sorrow.

 

There’s a great deal of bravery and strength that Davi has in her vulnerability and honesty about her shortcomings.  I know that she is aware others judge her for what happened, since she still experiences shunning from a few in our little small-town-like community in the millions-and-millions-of-residents-city of Beijing.  And, the girl is so humble; she won’t attribute her honesty to bravery or strength, but almost a shame if she doesn’t share the gift Jesus has given her through the grief and loss of her precious baby.

Tiana, Davi, Luke and their boys have genuinely changed the lives of many, (I’ve heard the stories of how, remember?). I hope you are blessed and changed by the testimony of Tiana, even an ounce of how much her story has changed me.

 

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