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Held: God’s Care when You’ve Miscarried: Abbey Wedgeworth

with Abbey Wedgeworth | December 8, 2022
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Author Abbey Wedgeworth recalls the gut-wrenching reality of having miscarried and feeling for God in the dark. Hear the comfort of being held in loss.

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  • About the Guest

On FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson host author Abbey Wedgeworth, who recalls the gut-wrenching reality of having miscarried and feeling for God in the dark. Hear the comfort of being held in loss.

Held: God’s Care when You’ve Miscarried: Abbey Wedgeworth

With Abbey Wedgeworth
|
December 08, 2022
| Download Transcript PDF

 

David: Hey there, David Robbins here, President of FamilyLife; and I’m joined by my wife, Meg.

Meg: Hey, everybody!

David: One thing we know: many of our listeners tell us often that FamilyLife Today has become their safe oasis in the complicated and complex times that we are living in. Maybe you feel that way too.

Meg: Every single day, we invite you to sit at the table with Dave and Ann to engage in God-honoring conversations about the relationships that matter most to you. Well, there is plenty of room at our table for more people.

David: And our mission, in 2023, is to bring more people into the conversation than ever before. It starts with meeting our yearend matching goal. Now’s the time to invest in FamilyLife Today;because right now, your yearend gift will stretch twice as far.

Meg: Yes, so stick around; and we’ll get you more information at the end of the show.

Abbey: But the beauty of—when we don’t place our faith in the other side of grief—is that we long for the other side of fallenness; we long for redemption. It teaches us to say, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” And that is the true other side of grief that we should be longing for, not placing our faith in these temporary hopes.

Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.

Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

I was recently reading a devotional book—and this caught my attention—when the author said: “I’ve never been this close to death. [Emotion in voice] It’s literally inside of me, where life should be.” I remember stopping, at that moment, as I thought about those words.

Dave: You’re already crying.

Ann: I know! But I’ve never thought about a miscarriage like that: you know, I’m literally carrying life, and that life has died inside of me.

Dave: Yes, I read the same book; and I’m pretty excited we have Abbey Wedgeworth in the studio with us. She’s the author of those words. I’ve never read anything quite that descriptive in terms of how you felt.

Abbey, welcome to FamilyLife Today.

Abbey: Thanks; I’m so honored and excited to be with you guys.

Ann: We’re excited to have you. And this book—that hit me—this whole book has hit me, because you’ve written a devotional. Tell us about that: “How did that come about?”

Abbey: Oh, it was an honor; I still can’t believe it. It’s one of my favorite books, and I read it so excitedly. I don’t even feel like it’s arrogant to say that, because I feel like the Lord just did it!—[Laughter]—you know?

Dave: I was going to say, “One of your favorite books is your own book?!”

Abbey: Yes, I read that book! In fact, I was reading it in preparation for this interview, just reviewing, and thinking, “Man! Can we get that girl to come to the interview?” [Laughter]

Ann: So funny.

Abbey: I don’t even feel like I wrote it sometimes. As I walked through our own experience of loss, I blogged and shared publicly; because at that time, I just had a blog following. I value sharing with readers in real-time rather than when we arrive on the other side of something. I shared really publicly about our miscarriage; and I repeatedly got the question: “What resource would you recommend?” “What resource would you recommend?”

And there are so many resources for women, who experience the loss of life in the womb; but I found myself hesitant with a lot of them, because none of them did exactly what I wanted them to do.

Ann: What did you want?

Abbey: Some offer fluffy falsehoods or trite platitudes. I wanted a resource that was just the Word of God—something that will not shy away from the hard questions: “Is God in control?” “Is God good?” “If this happened, what sort of other suffering may be lurking around the corner?”—those are real questions.

I think many people grieve this sort of experience privately. It's a unique kind of grief, because there’s a hidden nature to what’s been lost. I just wanted a companion/a theologically-sound companion that would walk a woman through, in reading portions that she could process, while her body was tired and her mind was weak.

Ann: That’s so sweet! I know that you have ministered to our son and his wife as they’ve gone through some miscarriages. You have been a source of comfort/of hope. I like that, too: a biblical sound teaching on this area.

Dave: I love how your book is all Psalm 139—

Ann: Me too.

Dave: —which is this powerful Psalm—but I’ve never seen it applied, really, the way that you did.

Tell us your story; I mean, we know this: you have three sons now.

Abbey: I do.

Dave: You’re married—a mom/a wife—a busy life, an author. Walk us back to the beginning of where this book came from.

Abbey: Our first son, Will—around his first birthday—we found out we were pregnant. We were not trying to be pregnant. I felt a little overwhelmed, like, “How am I going to do two car seats?” My husband works a lot, and we had strategically planned like everyone will be out of diapers before the next person comes. [Laughter] So it was a shock—that pregnancy—and then, we got to the point where we were really excited.

We went for the first ultrasound. I remember praying with David on the way that we would hear a heartbeat; and we did, which is such a blessing. That sound of hoofbeats is such a great sound to hear. And then, I was so sick, just vomiting all day, every day.

And then, the next appointment/four weeks later, I walked in. The doctor wheeled in the machine, because the doppler wasn’t picking up the heartbeat. He wheeled in the ultrasound machine, a portable one, and was trying to find the heartbeat. He couldn’t find the heartbeat. Of course, the baby must be hiding—right?—so they sent me to the waiting room.

I texted my sister-in-law. [Emotion in voice] It didn’t occur to me that we may have lost the baby until she walked in the door; she lived about eight minutes away.

Ann: —until your sister-in-law walked in the door.

Abbey: Yes, she came; and I said, “They’re having trouble finding the heartbeat.” She came in and sat with me, so I wouldn’t be alone when we went back to the actual ultrasound room for them to look. Even then, I was just holding out hope—naiveté?—I don’t know.

They measured the baby and said, “It should be measuring about this big, and this is how big it is.” I looked at her and said [crying], “Is there no heartbeat?” She said, “No, the baby is gone.” I can remember just sobbing! I was just shocked—you know the statistics, but you just don’t think—statistically, after hearing a heartbeat, the likelihood of lost life in the womb plummets after that; it goes way down. And so I was just shocked; I didn’t want it to be true.

I remember apologizing profusely to my doctor, who was so gracious. [Emotion in voice] He said, “You should cry. A loss of life is always worth grieving.” I’m so grateful for God’s kindness to give me a doctor who believed that.

My husband came from work, and it was just a sad day. I felt sort of/there were a lot of complicated emotions for me. I felt like I had my theological ducks in a row—I love theology!—I felt like I had a solid theology of suffering. But experiencing it that way—you know, you mentioned those opening words: “Death had occurred within me,”—that’s incredibly close!

It really was the beginning of a deepening of my faith—from knowing to believing—that God was good, that He was in control, that He was for me when this had happened. I mean, look at Jesus at Lazarus’s tomb; right? He knew what was coming; He knew the truth, and He grieved in outrage/in outrage.

Dave: Yes.

Abbey: I think that was one of the most beautiful things, Dave, about this experience. I appreciated so much the incarnation, that we have a suffering Savior. He felt so with me in my grief, outraged over death. God’s plan of redemption cannot be miscarried. I’m just so grateful for a suffering Savior, who’s with us, and who came to undo that sadness.

Ann: And you’re saying that you already had this theology of suffering. What does that mean? Because I think a lot of people can experience that, and their thought is, “God, how could You allow this to happen?!”

Abbey: Yes; well, theology is just what we believe about God; right? And suffering is bad things that happen. If we believe God is good, how can bad things happen? I mean, none of us in this room can pretend that we can fit that in a box—that we can tie a bow on really neatly—right? It’s an incredibly complicated question; it’s an incredibly complicated question.

I think, you know, for me, it’s looking to the cross and realizing God did not withhold His own Son; you look at the cross, and you see the answer to that question. It’s a complicated question—but when we behold the Son of God, slain for the sins of the world—bad things happen in order that things might be redeemed. And bad things happen because we live in a fallen world; right?

Ann: Yes.

Abbey: I mean, things are not as they should be; they’re not as they were intended to be or created to be. But thanks be to God for Christ, who has defeated death and, one day, will come again and wipe every tear. There will be no babies who die too young anymore!

The cross has been such a help to me, as I consider, “How can a good God allow bad things?” It pleased God to send His Son to endure that suffering on our behalf; it’s a hard tension to hold. But I think we run to a just God, who is loving; and we see that He did not withhold His Son, and can say, “How will He not graciously give us all things?”

Ann: So even though you know that God is good, you’re still asking those questions/of kind of walking through those questions, like: “I don’t get it; what was the point?”—is what you’re saying.

Abbey: Yes, yes; and our questions are welcomed at the throne of grace. It is an act of worship to ask questions:

  • Because when we question the Creator of the universe, we acknowledge Him to be the One, who knows all things; right? When we say, “How could You allow this?”—we acknowledge that He’s omnipotent; that He is all-powerful.
  • When we say, “How could You allow this bad thing?” we acknowledge that He’s good; right? We’re revealing or presenting the dissonance that is happening: “If You’re good, how can this bad thing be happening?”

Ann: I’m thinking I like that, though, as you share that it’s okay to question God. Because our kids come to us, all the time, questioning us, like, “I don’t get what you’re doing. Tell us what you’re thinking.” I’m so happy when they come to me with their questions!—like: “Oh, let me explain my heart,” or “Let me just love you.” You’re saying God welcomes it when we’re struggling—we’re not demanding it—but we’re saying, “God, I don’t get it.”

Abbey: Yes; when you’re pulling to Him, that builds relationship; right?—when your kids come to you with their questions.

Ann: Exactly! What did you hear when you would say, “God, I don’t get it”? Did you just have a sense of peace?

Abbey: Well, I think, if we want to hear from God, what do we do?—we read the Bible, because God speaks to us. “At many times and in many ways He spoke to people throughout the ages [Hebrews 1:1]”; and now, He speaks to us through His Word. I read the book of Job in the wake of our loss, and I just felt very struck by Him answering Job with Himself.

Ann: Abbey, that is amazing; because we tend to stay away from the book of Job.

Dave: I would be like, “I’m not going to Job!

Abbey: Oh!

Ann: Yes! “He might take the rest of my children!”

Dave: “It could get worse!”

Abbey: It’s such a great book for miscarriage, because everyone has answers, like Job’s friends; right?

Ann: Yes; did you get answers?

Abbey: Oh, my goodness, yes. Bless their hearts [Laughter]; people are so well-intentioned, and they say the most unhelpful things.

Ann: What should we not say to our friend, who had a miscarriage?

Abbey: Oh, whew! Let’s open that can.

Ann: Yes, do.

Abbey: I should mention: my experience is one experience of loss, but one of the gifts of talking about this loss publicly is getting to hear from so many women:

  • So anything that begins with “At least…”—you know, [they] say—“At least, you were early.”

“What are you saying? You’re saying that was less of a life? If you believe in the sanctity of life, that life begins at conception, whew! Check yourself.”

Ann: And if you’ve read Psalm 139,—

Abbey: Yes!

Ann: —God knits us together intricately.

Abbey: Yes! Yes, I think anything that begins with “At least…”

  • Promises that are not given in Scripture; things that aren’t true.
  • I think, also, when we’re too quick to relate; you know?—like: “This is how it was for me…” Miscarriage is different for everyone. It’s not the same for everyone—whether it was a surprise/whether it wasn’t; whether it’s your sixth pregnancy or your first—it’s different. How far along you are makes a huge difference in terms of the physical trauma of miscarriage and then, also, how you grieve and move forward.

I think listening is a great idea.

Ann: And then, what is good to say? What ministered to your heart when people/what did they do or say that was helpful?

Abbey: Yes, I was grateful—God’s given us an entire hymnbook to sing to make it through life; right?—the Psalms. So many of those are songs of lament. I’m so grateful my church sings through the Psalms. Every summer, we have a preaching series/a teaching series on the Psalms; and they don’t shy away from Psalms of lament.

I felt really shepherded by people offering words to my pain rather than trying to rush me to the other side of it—you know: “He walks through the valley of the shadow of death,” “God prepares him a table in the presence of his enemies,”—there’s no running through the hard stuff. When believers would offer me words to sing, as I walked through the very long road that was grieving this loss, I was grateful. It’s enough to say: “This is really hard, and I’m really sorry,” “I’m sad with you,” “I’m confused with you.”

My best friend, while I was writing this book, lost a baby at 22 weeks, a baby girl. Her name was Lily. If the baby is named, use the baby’s name [emotion in voice]; say, “I’m really sad to not know Lily today”; you know?

Ann: Ohhh.

Abbey: I think you follow the griever’s lead/you follow the sufferer’s lead. That’s incarnational ministry—to be with someone where they are—not where you think they should be.

Ann: I think those are really wise words of just being there with them, loving them.

Dave: How long was your walk? I mean, you never stop walking; but how long was it before you felt like you were back to life?

Abbey: We were unable to try to conceive again—which felt important to me, you know, as sort of a marker to move forward—but we were unable to try to conceive again for ten months. This is why allowing someone to walk, meeting someone where they are in their grief is such a gift; because when we do that, we participate in the work of the Lord; we participate in redemption.

Because when we view the other side/“the other side” of grief as salvific, we’re mistaken. The beauty of walking—you know, I thought pregnancy/that being pregnant again would be the other side of grief; and it wasn’t! Having that baby was not the other side of grief. I mean, I’m teary, talking with you guys about this—what?—five years later.

Ann: Yes, yes.

Abbey: But the beauty of—when we don’t place our faith in the other side of grief—is that we long for the other side of fallenness; we long for redemption. It teaches us to say, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” And that is the true other side of grief that we should be longing for, not placing our faith in these temporary hopes.

I think grief is a life-long journey.

Ann: For sure.

Abbey: Yes, someone once described it to me as a box with a button. I don’t know if you’ve heard this before: but you shake this box. In the beginning, when grief is fresh, the box is being shaken a little more—you know, anything: seeing the mom, with two kids in the grocery store, when you only have one is a trigger—hits the button; makes you cry. Then, over time, the box sort of settles; so the button’s not getting bumped as much. That ball isn’t bumping the button as much, so you cry less.

Ann: “The box is shaken,”—I’ve never heard of that.

Abbey: Yes, it was helpful for me.

Ann: That’s really good.

Abbey: It sort of slows down, but it doesn’t mean the button’s gone.

Ann: And this is not just—really, we’re talking about things that aren’t just miscarriages—this is suffering in general.

Abbey: Yes!

Dave: Yes.

Abbey: But the reason this book exists is because I wanted to write a book for the woman, for whom the roots were not deep enough.

Dave: Yes, that’s good.

Ann: She’s in the hurricane.

Abbey: Yes, she’s in the hurricane. That’s why: “Okay, what can we do? One passage; short, short devotions, under 1,000 words; simple questions to prompt her, maybe, when she’s not succeeding at self-assessment; and space for her to journal, with a strap that makes it private.”

I think, too, like a lot of women I hear from, who first picked up the book, they’re saying, “I don’t believe right now.” It’s dark, and there’s a portion of the book that addresses this:

We believe that God holds us. Even when our faith slips out of our insight, it’s worth continuing to walk in the dark. David says, “Even the darkness is as light to You.” So when things get so dark for us that even our faith feels like it’s out of sight, He holds us with His righteous right hand and upholds us; He’s powerful enough to do that. He’s powerful enough to preserve us in our doubt.

Dave: That’s where Held, the title, came from.

Abbey: Yes, yes.

Ann: I am wondering, Abbey, as we close, could you just pray for our listeners? I’m thinking of even—not just the woman, who’s gone through the miscarriage—but I’m thinking of her family, her husband, her parents, her friends—you know, who are all suffering—but watching their loved one suffer too.

Abbey: Yes.

Father, I thank You that You are a God, who knows all things. Lord, You know us intimately; You are intimately acquainted with our circumstances. I pray for the women listening now who, Lord, feel unseen. Lord, would You just help them to believe that they’re seen and known by You?

And with that knowledge, Lord, if it leads to questions instead of comfort: “How can You see and allow?” “How can You see and not intervene?”—Lord, I pray that You would lift their gaze to the cross, Your ultimate intervention for a world that is suffering. I pray that they would be encouraged as they see a Savior, who is suffering for them.

Lord, I believe that You are a God, who is always present. Lord, would You strengthen them when the answer to their prayers is not what they would want to receive, Lord?

I pray for their families: God, would You give them wisdom? Would you set a guard over their lips? Help them to speak in ways that uphold/that preserve. Lord, help them to guide these women back to Your truth: to things that will hold up; to things that are eternal, Lord.

I pray that, in the midst of these hard things, God, that You would work in mighty ways that would move women to be thankful for what they have endured because of the greater gift, that is You. I thank You for who You are. I pray that You would give us faith to believe and eyes to see. In the name of Christ I pray and ask these things. Amen.

 

Shelby: “Faith to believe and eyes to see”—so beautifully said. You’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Abbey Wedgeworth on FamilyLife Today. Dave and Ann have something to share with us in just a second; but first, Abbey’s book is called Held: 31 Biblical Reflections on God’s Comfort and Care in the Sorrow of Miscarriage. You can pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com. And while you’re there, Eric Schumacher has a devotional book for men grieving miscarriage called Ours. It’s another great book to check out at FamilyLifeToday.com.

You know, we’ve been going to a lot of honest and raw places today; but it needs to be talked about, not ignored or painted over. I, for one, am grateful for this time today.

Ann: Thanks, Shelby. This is heavy stuff today; isn’t it?

Dave: Oh, yes!

Ann: Dave and I have sat/haven’t we sat with so many couples who have suffered this kind of loss? Our own kids have suffered this kind of loss, losing a child. And I’m just so grateful for Abbey’s transparency/just for her sensitivity.

And we’re so grateful, too, just for the opportunity to address this all-too-common grief. Where else do grieving couples go with their burdens than to places like this?—where we can sit around/we can go through it all and embrace one another with compassion. This is such an incredible privilege!

Dave: Yes; and it’s one of the reasons—isn’t it? —that we fell in love with FamilyLife/—

Ann: Yes!

Dave:FamilyLife Today, early on. I mean, we’ve been a part of this ministry for over 30 years. It’s one of the reasons we give to this ministry, financially. We don’t just pray for this ministry; we sacrificially give as well. There’s no pretense here; there’s no subject that’s too sensitive or off-limits. And let me tell you: young families need a place to turn with their deepest issues. It’s amazing that we get to be that place that they can trust.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: And they need a place that speaks the truth into their most-pressing problems.

Ann: And like so many of you, Dave and I are parents to children, who are striking out on their own.

Dave: —already have!

Ann: Yes, they’re beginning their own families. Having young grandchildren is like taking this crash-course on what it’s like to raise a family in these crazy times.

Dave: And they’re crashing into our walls in our house too. [Laughter]

Ann: If you’re in a position to help young families cultivate healthy, God-fearing homes, we want to invite you to participate in the matching challenge that’s active right now. The goal amount is $2 million.

Dave: As a participant in the matching challenge, you will play an active role in bringing hope and help to families. You can be the one to remind them that, no matter how hard things become—and they will become hard; we all know that—God has not abandoned them.

Shelby: Yes, I totally agree; and I really believe we need to remind ourselves of that truth. Thanks to some generous Ministry Partners, when you give to the ministry of FamilyLife, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, until we hit $2 million. That’s for a one-time gift; or if you become a monthly Partner right now, your monthly gifts will be doubled for the next 12 months. Maybe you’ve never given anything before—and this feels a little weird when you hear it—but if you’ve ever bought anything online before, it’s basically just like that: you can give a one-time gift of $25, or a one-time gift of $500, or a monthly gift of like $40; anything at all is doubled.

And when you give, as our “Thank you,” we’re going to send you four copies of The Four Emotions of Christmas by Bob Lepine. We’re sending you four copies so you can give away three to help reach your neighbors and live on mission this Christmas. You’ll also get six greeting cards, hand-selected by David and Meg Robbins. These make a great tool to be able to share with your loved ones this holiday season. You can give, again, online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; that’s 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

Now, coming up tomorrow on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann Wilson will be joined, again, with Abbey Wedgeworth to explore the experience her husband had with shame during the sorrow of her miscarriage; that’s tomorrow.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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Episodes in this Series

FamilyLife Today
Walking through Miscarriage Together: Abbey Wedgeworth
with Abbey Wedgeworth December 9, 2022
What's it look like to grieve miscarriage together? On FamilyLife Today, author Abbey Wedgeworth gets real about the distress of loss and the initial gulf in her marriage.
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