Since my daughter died inside me, I have been commended by many people.
You are so brave, they say. Your faith is so great.
They say that because they don't know. They don't know the truth.
They don't know how, the night we arrived home from the hospital without our daughter and for many nights after that, I lay on the bed, alone, and cried out to God for comfort, for answers, and heard nothing. How I hated Him for that.
They don't know how I was crippled with fear that my daughter, because she died before she was born, was not enjoying Heaven (I am no longer afraid of this). How I was paralyzed by the terror that my husband would also die too young and too soon (I am still afraid of this).
They don't know that I tried to stop believing in God. How disgusted I felt that a so-called loving God would let a deeply cherished, innocent child die before she drew breath.
They don't know how in spite of myself I could not shut God out. That, no matter how hurt and angry and hateful I felt about Him, I could not not believe. That whatever faith I have is because of Him, not me.
They don't know how I raged at this God who wouldn't save my daughter and wouldn't let me go. How I asked Him to let me die, too.
They don't know that I hate to read the Bible now. That I am afraid of coming across passages that wound me with their words of how God brings pregnancies to fruition, because the first-fruit of my pregnancy was death.
They don't know how afraid I am all of the time. Afraid of what will become of me, or not become of me. Afraid that I have been ruined. Afraid of the future, because the future is a gaping void threatening to devour. Afraid that I will die alone. Afraid that, for the rest of my life, I will only lose and lose and lose.
They don't know how God has met me in ways small and large. How deepest grief and sharpest fear have enlarged my soul with the sweetest intimacy with my Maker that I have ever known. That this intimacy is because He is reteaching me to interact Him, and not because I prayed the perfect prayers or kept a perfect faith.
They don't know that, even with this reteaching of prayer, I cannot pray. I cannot pray for material needs, for practical requests, because I do not know what prayer means now that I prayed for my daughter and she died.
The people who say that I am brave and that I am faithful -- they don't know how terrified I am, how doubting, and how weak. They don't know that it's not me doing the things they see me doing, but God. God, and God, and God again -- hearing every broken sob, tasting every tear, healing every part of me.
If I am brave, it is with the courage that He has given me. If I am faithful, if I am trusting, it is with belief whose genesis is in Him. If I lived only by my own power and strength, I would not be able to breathe, let alone stand, let alone trust.
I am nothing. God is everything.
For that I am grateful.