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Imperfect babies and perfect gifts

“All generous giving and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the father of lights with whom there is no variation nor the slightest hint of change.” James 1:17

I call this the baby announcement verse. Below the darling, curled-up-in-a-basket newborn we may read: “Every perfect gift comes from above.” Babies are precious gifts, I believe. Perfectly delightful and messy and exhausting. They steal our hearts and sleep but seemingly give back in a million ways. But sometimes our gift is complicated. 

Several years ago, after losing a medically imperfect baby before birth, I wrestled with this verse for a long time. In the midst of grief, this little line snuck in my mailbox in the form of yet another birth announcement. Yeah for you and your perfect baby. Perplexing and complicated for me. I felt angry with the great baby giver for breaking my heart and allowing the space for that kind of story. 

Being forced to wrestle with the harder questions or troublesome issues of life is a gift, I’ve decided. Anyone can insert a little theology into their situation in ways that brings comfort and peace. We may even bottle up our little cliches and pass them on to other hurting people. It’s more difficult to be present when life does not make sense, when the long awaited gift turns out to be broken or lost.

Compassion and wisdom grow in our tight places where confusion and grief crowd out sanity and peace. Which is why I am hesitant to place short lines of scripture onto the neatest snapshot of my life. I want a compassionate faith, one which holds room for all sorts of stories.  

Life is complicated and I used to think God is complicated too. While He is complex, He is not complicated. A concept repeats in scripture which is worth pondering especially in our dark moments: God is light, the father (origin and source) of all light. No darkness, just pure, beautiful and unchanging light. Wherever we find goodness, we can trust that God placed it there. Wherever we find beauty or truth, love and generosity, He is the source. Every good thing we encounter can ultimately be traced back to God. The father of lights has no dark side or fears entering our darkness. This will never change according to scripture. 

It took me at least a year to recover from my imperfect gift and make peace with the giver. A million times over I wanted to rewrite the story, wishing it never happened, seeing no point in the pain. Years later though I would not change a thing. The loss, with all its brokenness and painful confusion, became a spiritual turning point. In a sense I’d stored up all my losses and rage and losing Sophie broke the dam. I wailed and kicked and screamed for a long time. And then I stopped. And accepted and allowed my heart to heal. I’d never gone through the whole grief process despite several hard losses. In the end, it was a good gift. The gift of a broken heart which no one asks for but most of us get anyways. 

But this I know. Our generous father loves us in unchanging and refining ways. He is the father of lights, the origin and giver of all good things. We can trust this Light to allow even the darkness to shadow our lives.

A year later I had another baby. And her name means light.

“My God turns my darkness into light.” [Psalm 18:28]

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I am currently journaling though the book of James, one of my favorites which I have memorized and recited dozens of times for various audiences. James is challenging, direct and practical, a New Testament book of wisdom and encouragement. Join me for a casual conversation on understanding and applying scripture. You can subscribe to blog from home page, right side.

Today I am linking with other bloggers for a conversation on faith. Join us at Suzanne Eller for http://tsuzanneeller.com/

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6 Replies

  1. Vanessa

    Beautiful, honest words Astrid. And yes, there is light to be found even in the darkest and most broken of places. May a ‘compassionate’ faith grow in all of us …

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes! Thank you.

  2. Tara

    “Compassion and wisdom grow in our tight places where confusion and grief seemingly crowd out your sanity.” Love this. Need to post this on my mirror or something.

    “We may even bottle up our little cliches and pass them on to other hurting people.” — I’ve started to notice that the hollow “quotable quotes” I’ve received in times of trial are often a blessing in disguise. The way they irritate and offend my rawness gives me a way to recognize and validate my true feelings. Lines like: “Just be thankful it wasn’t worse!” Turns into me arguing that I’m not thankful “it” happened at all. And, what’s more, that’s a perfectly acceptable and reasonable reaction. Then, with each passing week and month, I find little tendrils of gratitude do actually begin spiraling upward as the ashes begin to settle around me. Ironic and sometimes an even humorous discovery.

    Love you!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Before the mirror posting I think this sentence would benefit from matching possessive adjectives or eliminating one oh free write joy :). Thanks for sharing your humorous discovery here. ❤

  3. I’m so sorry for the grief you experienced, but am thankful that you have shared your wrestling here — and especially the gift of James 1:17 as a birth announcement. What a sweet and life-affirming idea.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks, Michele.

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