We look to our husbands for leadership, but we also look to them to be fixers, to make things better for us. And sometimes there's just nothing that can be done to make it better. You know, part of me is like, I forgive you. But there's another side that I don't know if he could have done any different. You know, like, was that really sinning against me? That he was so limited in his humanity in that way that he could not participate? I don't think he was sinning against me.
I think he was doing the best he could as a human being. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Dave Wilson. And I'm Ann Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today.
So I would say probably one of the hardest things for a marriage to endure. You know what I'm going to say? No, I'm waiting on pins and needles. You're looking at me like you have no idea. What are you going to say? You looked at me like football season or something like that.
No, and I'm not trying to be funny at all. I think a walk through the valley of suffering, any marriage, even the best marriages, that will test a really good marriage and maybe crumble a bad marriage. I agree with that because we all deal with suffering in different ways. And I think we can tend to judge one another in how the spouse or how you are possibly— The way you're saying that, I think you're being autobiographical here. We judge one another.
No, I think we do that. I think it's normal. Like, why isn't he sad with me?
Or why is she still sad? You know, it's hard in a marriage. Let's help couples today understand how to walk through suffering well. We've had to do it.
I'm not saying it's been easy, but it's a journey every couple needs to know how to do. Because if you live in this world, you will endure suffering at some point. So we have Abby Wedgworth back in the studio. You're smiling because now you're walking into, oh, we have a person that's walked through suffering, right? Anyway, welcome back to Family Life Today.
Thank you. So grateful to be here. You know, you were here. We've already talked about some of the suffering you went through. But first of all, let's say you're married, you're a wife, a mom, you've got three boys right there. Talk about suffering.
Three sons. Oh my goodness. What are you talking about? That's not suffering. No, I mean, it's awesome. But man, it's like crazy.
Am I right? I will say, yeah, they're in our beds at all hours of the night. Yeah, that part, that could be a bit of suffering. Well, you know, sleep depravity is a form of torture. Torture.
They're torturing them. Every young mom just said, yes, I understand what you're saying. Well, I said suffering because boys, and I'm not saying girls don't do this, but boys cause suffering to their brothers. I mean, you manage that all day long.
You're like, quit doing that to your younger brother, right? That's true. So that's part of it.
But obviously, you wrote a book called Held, which was a journey that you walked through with your miscarriage. So we've already talked about that. And you did such a good job just talking about the theology of suffering.
Because I think it's something missing. We sort of think we'll never suffer. And if we do, God's not here. God's distant.
God is, you know, he can't ever allow this. But Abby, this is something you've been talking about. You have a podcast.
What's the name of your podcast? Held. There we go.
It's called Held. So you've been talking to women. I mean, you're just good at this because you're very honest and real of what you've endured. And you're trying to give women hope as well.
I think it's pretty cool. I'm sitting here looking at two women knowing Ann has a women's ministry called Heard. Yours is Held. Help us understand what that means. Heard means women being heard and seen. Am I right? What does Held mean?
Yeah. Well, Held, the title of the book, comes from the passage that the book walks through. Even there your hand shall lead me. Even there your right hand shall hold me.
So there's a lot of different ways you could take it. But I think ultimately God holds us in our suffering. He holds us within time and space with a powerful, omnipotent hand, keeping us from moving out of suffering sometimes. But he holds us in a way that preserves us.
There's a picture in the book of my son. A wave was coming at the beach and my husband yanks him up at the last minute. And it would have been absurd for our two-year-old to say, good thing I was holding on to you, Dad.
His grip isn't powerful enough, but the Lord holds us and preserves us in suffering and ultimately will preserve us to glory. So as you think back when you had your miscarriage… How many weeks were you? We were 12.
12 weeks. We got arms and legs and a heart beat. And you described that beautifully and really in a sad way, too, of what you endured. And out of that, you decided to write a 31-day devotional, Held is a devotional, which is beautiful.
And you've based it off of Psalm 139. So I just want to talk about your marriage. How did that moment… I'm looking around for my husband. I mean, he's not here, but we talked about suffering.
Walking through a valley in a marriage can be really, really difficult. I'm wondering what that journey was for you and David. Yeah, this was our first experience of suffering. We had had a really easy road. Things have been really wonderful for us.
We have supportive families and we live in a beautiful place. But this was our first thought with suffering. I think we were both shocked. You were at the doctor's office by yourself.
And then they didn't find a heartbeat for the baby. And so your husband came to you or did you go home? He came. Yeah, he came. I called him to go. I was not in a place to drive.
Yeah, I called him to go. I could not have seen through my tears. I was utterly shocked. So he came, but to this day, I think is the hardest thing we have experienced. And you mentioned this, but it's because we're different. I think this side of the experience, there are things I wish I would have known. Obviously, when you're writing a book, you spend lots of time meditating on the subject matter. And I spent a lot of time meditating on this passage, which presents God as omnipotent. He's all-powerful, omniscient. He knows all things omnipresent. He is everywhere with us always. Part of acknowledging that God is all of those things and that He is God is recognizing that we are not those things, which leads the psalmist to repentance in the last verse. You know, search me, know my heart, try me, test my thoughts, reveal any grievous way, lead me in the way everlasting. So he's ready to confess his sin as a result of seeing who God is. But also, when we understand who God is, it leads us to understand the humanity of others.
We expect different things from them. And I think I have repented to my husband. I expected him to be God after we lost our baby. What would that have looked like?
Thank you for asking. For him to be all-knowing, which I wouldn't have realized this or said this, but if he sat next to me on the couch, I wanted to be touched. I expected him to know. Or if I was washing the dishes and he came up behind me and I wanted to be left alone, I expected him to know. I expected him to be all-knowing. I wanted him to be with me.
I took personal offense at the fact that he had a job, you know, and he wasn't there. He wasn't there when they told us that the baby had passed. And he would tell you this were he here.
The most attractive thing to me about my husband besides his kindness is his humility. But he would tell you that when I was miscarrying, he could not be there. And that was hard. He could not be present with me.
What do you mean by that? It was a yucky process. It was a lot to watch.
So my mom was with me. He could not be with me. Did he say why? It was too much for him. It was too much for him. And that was a huge source of shame for him. Meaning that he was probably so petrified. Petrified. I mean, he wanted to go to the ER. And fearful for your life.
Yes. And our births have been similar. He would have taken the epidural had they been willing to do it. But I think rather than being able to minister to him and his humanity, that was painful. And yet, did you hold on to that at all?
You weren't there for me. We have worked through that. And I am a huge proponent of couples therapy. We tell everyone, all couples, no matter what season, everyone should be in marriage counseling.
Absolutely. You know, it's just so helpful for uncovering things that are covered. Maybe that we don't even know we're holding. But yeah, he's not all knowing. He can't be with me all the time.
And he's not all powerful. I think that's a mistake that a lot of us make. We look to our husbands for leadership, but we also look to them to be fixers, to make things better for us. And sometimes there's just nothing that can be done to make it better. I know spouses feel that acutely when their spouse is suffering. Has he ever said that he regretted that he couldn't be with you? Or is that something that— Oh, yeah. And obviously— Because I felt that sometimes with Anne when there's a suffering and I didn't respond the way I should or I wasn't there. You sort of hold that. I'm wondering if he's felt that. Oh, yeah.
Yes. So what do you do with that? Because you've got the side like I wanted you there. He's got the side— Well, you're doing therapy, basically.
You're writing this book. You're going through the word. And so that was probably a balm to your soul. It was a balm.
It was a balm. And to hear others talk about their experiences and their marriage, it's so much easier to see from the outside, right? But I think, yeah, seeing who God is, it gives us grace for the humanity of others, and it also leads us to repentance.
So that's the way we've walked through that. You know, part of me is like I forgive you. But there's another side that I don't know if he could have done any different. Like, was that really sinning against me that he was so limited in his humanity in that way that he could not participate? I don't think he was sinning against me.
I think he was doing the best he could as a human being. I think that's just a word for marriage in general. Yeah, we're limited. We're limited, and we're limited together.
And so part of it is just being able to sit together and say, hey, you're limited. I mean, for the woman who is enduring miscarriage, it's a physiological experience. So I think a husband needs to recognize when his wife is weeping at the kitchen sink or just, you know, the weeping, I mean, that happens postpartum. It happens after a miscarriage. There's got to be grace for humanity, for what's happening in her body, and it's vice versa. But the enemy who seeks to kill and destroy, you know, the scheme of the enemy in that situation is to prey on our frailty.
Yeah. I think so often as I hear this, and my heart goes toward the woman as she's losing the baby, and I think often we don't think about the husband and the dad of the loss they're experiencing. And I know Dave handles things so differently than I do. I'm way more expressive.
I'm telling him everything that I'm feeling, and he's more quiet in it. But that doesn't mean he hasn't suffered just as much. And we recently had Eric Shoemaker on, and he wrote a book called Ours. And it was really going through the book of Luke as he dealt with miscarriage, and this was from a man's perspective. But I loved that he was in because I had never really thought of the dad's perspective. And so he was in a situation where his wife had had four miscarriages, and this baby that she had lost in this particular time that he was referring to, she had to be induced, and so she was at the hospital. It was taking longer than they had anticipated, and so he went down to the cafeteria. And in the cafeteria were a bunch of men that had just had babies.
And so we wanted you to hear this as Eric talks and then maybe comment on what he was experiencing. At this particular hospital, they had a room for fathers to come in and get meals. And so they brought them to Jenny, but dads could go get them from a little mini cafeteria.
The meals were only available at certain slots during the day. And so without even thinking about it, I head down to get my meal, and the room is full of dads. And all the dads are in there talking about what they had, showing each other pictures of babies or what they're expecting. And it finally gets around the room to me, and someone says, what about you? And the feelings that come up are, wow, I'm going to be such a disappointment to this room and to these men. And I'm going to introduce death into their celebration of life. I told them, I said, our baby died in the womb, and my wife's delivering it or had delivered it. And everyone expressed their sorrow, but the energy was sucked out of the room. And then I made the point of shame drives you to behave different.
I made the decision that when I went for meals, I just waited till the last 10 minutes they were available because I knew all the other dads would be gone. What does that make you feel when you hear that, Abby? Firstly, I feel so grateful for Eric, especially his articulation of his experience with shame. He wrote an article for Risen Motherhood where he talked about his shame as a dad that really opened my eyes to my husband's internal experience of shame. In the wake of my last, he talks about not being able to pick up his baby or not being able to be in the room with his wife was something he experienced.
And so I'm just grateful for his authenticity, first and foremost. I think also just grateful for his voice to move us to consider the experience of spouses. I cannot imagine the pressure of navigating the experience of loss in the womb as a man. You don't cry to be strong for your wife. She thinks you're not grieving with her. You cry, you're making it about yourself. Like, I mean, anything you do could be the wrong thing. And also, I mean, where are you going to talk about it?
And who's going to understand? You feel like an alien because it's a physiological experience for your wife and you're enduring it differently. But other men have not experienced that in the same way. Yeah, it sounds so lonely. That experience in that room is a microcosm for probably how fathers of miscarried babies feel. I felt the same thing.
It gives men a voice. I've been there. I have felt that. And a lot of times we don't acknowledge the dad in the situation. Yeah, and I think one of the things that happens in any kind of suffering in a marriage is you process it differently. And that's where a lot of times you have this rub because you think your spouse should be processing it like you are, or you might be in a different stage of grief. Or you just have expectations, as you said earlier, Abby, of what he should or shouldn't be doing. So the question is, did you have that and then what do you do? Because I could be past the anger stage, my wife's still in the anger stage, and you look at her and go, what are you mad about?
It was a year ago or five years ago. Or don't you know God is good? Yeah, and you say stupid things like that in the middle of a moment where you get to understand they're in a different place.
Did that happen for you guys? Oh, 100 percent. And the line that's so comforting for women who lose babies, I praise you for I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. Every life in the womb has dignity because they're an image bearer of God. So there's fearfully but also wonderfully we're set apart from animals as creation human beings are. But then also we're distinctly us. That word wonderfully is distinct. You're distinctly you, Dave. Praise the Lord.
And Anne is distinctly Anne and you're not the same person. And we hold that as truth when we sit with our spouse before the Lord. It should not be personally offensive to me if my husband's journey through grief is faster than mine.
Because the God who created him is sovereign over his experience of grief. He's sovereign over his chemical makeup and he's sovereign over his life, the story of his life. And he's writing a story for David. We're married.
Yes, we're one. But his story for David is different than his story for me because we're uniquely us. One thing I would suggest is just praying together. You know, if you come up in a moment where you're like, wow, you're like light years ahead of me and I'm still way back here having compassion for the other person in both directions and saying, Lord, we praise you that you made us different and you can hold us here and help us to minister to each other, help us to not take the other's humanity personally, help us to discern what is sin, what's to be repented of and what is just to be shrugged at.
That's good. Yeah, I think that patience is key because I think, you know, if your spouse is ahead of you, it's one thing. When they're behind your process, you get impatient.
We've walked this long enough. Yeah, especially if you want to try again. Like a dad who wants to try again and for a long time, intimacy was so difficult for us because I didn't want to be pregnant again immediately. Like, I can't do this again. And that was hard because it was a surprise pregnancy for us, right? So anytime was a risk that it would happen again. And that was frustrating for him. That was extremely frustrating.
How did you navigate through that? Prayer. Yeah. So you're saying pray for one another.
Yes, praying for one another and praying with one another. One of the things that has surprised me in the last several years is, as people go through suffering or miscarriage to be specific, there's been a blame. Even of people feeling like, what did I do to cause this?
Whether it be something physical or maybe some sin area. And I've been surprised, like people could be thinking it was because I did dot, dot, dot. Have you heard people say that?
I felt that. And part of it is, what do you do when you first find out you're pregnant? You learn all the rules, right, which change all the time.
Like you can't eat deli meat or you have to take your prenatal every day. And so, you know, when our baby died in the womb, it was alive. We had a heartbeat and then we didn't. What did I do? I was working out. Did I exercise too hard?
Did my heart rate get up too high? I forgot my prenatal one day. Could that be the reason? And part of that is the quest for answers. We think if we can know, it won't hurt so bad, maybe. But you're right, there's the blame of, or even the loneliness.
Like if you wanted the baby more than your spouse or he wasn't so attached. I think we look for a scapegoat, but it's important to remember that the person who is behind evil is Satan. And once we remember that, to remember that God does not allow anything apart from his perfect wisdom and perfect love, which is so complicated, but somehow all things work together for our good. And we live in a broken world.
Yes. And part of acknowledging his power over all things, you know, again, leads us to say, I am not all powerful. We need to remember God's power. Psalm 139, that he numbers all of our days, all of them were written, when as yet there were none of them.
He's sovereign over our days and our spouse is not, and we're not. We cannot control what happens in the womb. So then you guys get pregnant again after your miscarriage. Were you scared?
Oh yeah, a thousand percent. But the beauty of that journey was that I was writing this book. The timeline is when I was two weeks postpartum with our rainbow baby, as they would call it, I began the process of this book coming into fruition. But at that stage, you've already thought through so much of it.
And so the entire time that I was pregnant, I was working on this book to prepare to send a publisher or whatever form it might take. And so the gift was all the things that are comforting in the lake of loss are the same things that ease our anxiety in pregnancy after loss, that God is good, that God is in control, that he doesn't allow anything to happen to us apart from his perfect wisdom and perfect love, that he will hold and preserve us through anything. And so those things were a gift to my anxiety. Our fear is a gift in as much as it drives us to the Lord, right, to acknowledge, okay, we're not in control.
Anxiety begs for action. And when we can't take any action, we realize that he's the one that can. And so we go to him in prayer.
And when we don't expect our spouse to, you know, we go to him in prayer together. How is your marriage different as a result of having gone through this together? It's richer.
Yeah, it's richer. I mean, obviously, it's a trauma. Miscarriage is a trauma. And our marriage endured a trauma. And so there certainly has had to be healing.
But God is a healer. And we have the same therapist now. We actually are scheduled to go for a marriage intensive with her soon. And we're both looking forward to it so much.
On certain days, he goes, Oh, I don't want to go because I know I'm wrong. You know, I feel the same way. But yeah, I think we are so much more humble. Both of us are so much quicker to repent.
I think we might be, we could be in the Olympics for like the fastest repunters maybe that there are. We're quick to say sorry. But we're both so in touch with our humanity. Miscarriage is a very human experience. Miscarriage tells us we're limited. There's nothing I could do to keep my baby alive. And I was limited afterwards by blood loss and weakness and my hormones.
And obviously, David experienced his limitations in a way that was acute for him. I mean, a lot of shame of what kind of man am I if I can't stay in this sort of situation. But being comfortable with your humanity, being human together, it drives you to the Lord. That's a gift. It's a gift to see your humanity. And yeah, and to know that you're fallen. That's what makes us quick repunters, right, when we behold God as perfect, when we see the life of Christ. I'm thinking about Jesus in the desert. And the beauty of that, He's more than an example to us there, right? Like, His body is so weak. And when I felt weak in the wake of our miscarriage or in times where I felt weak, sometimes I've been tempted to look to Him as an example.
Like, Jesus was perfect when He was this. But it's more than that, right? You mentioned patience earlier, Dave. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.
It's not something we can hold our fists really tight and white-knuckle up. Patience, you know? We have to recognize our need. And how does change come? Through repentance. Saying like, hey, I wasn't patient with you. And before the Lord, I wasn't patient with my spouse.
Will you help me? And He's so faithful to help. . Jesus is so faithful to help. If only we'd ask Him and believe that He can help. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Abby Wedgworth on Family Life today. Stick around as Dave has some final thoughts on the importance of embracing hard times together as a couple.
But first, Abby's book is called Held. Thirty-one 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 Shoemaker has a devotional book for men grieving miscarriage called Ours. It's another great book to check out at familylifetoday.com. You know, we asked David and Meg Robbins, what's one of the most significant things that sticks out in how family life today is caring for people?
Here's how they responded. Hey there, David Robbins here, president of Family Life, and I'm joined with my wife, Meg. Hey, everybody. And one thing we know, many of our listeners tell us often that family life today has become their safe oasis in complicated and complex times that we are living in.
And maybe you feel that way, too. Every single day, we invite you to sit at the table with Dave and Anne 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. And our mission in 2023 is to bring more people into the conversation than ever before. And it starts with meeting our year-end matching goal. So now's the time to invest in family life today, because right now, your year-end gift will stretch twice as far.
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That's 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Okay, here's Dave with some final thoughts from today's conversation. One of the things that can happen in a marriage, whether it's a miscarriage or any kind of suffering, is you can turn away from each other because you're hurting, and maybe they're not processing the way you are. Or, and it's really our choice, you can turn toward one another and say, I need you, and I will be here for you. It's both sides of that.
And you just said it. Every couple I know, including us and you guys that have gone through suffering and met God there, you come out mature. You come out better, richer. And we all run a run from the valley, yet as you walk through the valley with a deeper understanding that He is with you, you will be in a better marriage. Hang on. Cling to one another. Don't turn away. Yell at the ceiling if you have to. Lament together, but turn to one another. Hold each other tight and hold on through the storm. You'll get there. Are you feeling like you're stuck in a rut? Well, stay tuned because next week on Family Life Today, David and Wilson will be joined by Carl Clausen to help us get back to joining God, killing our sin, and refocusing our efforts. That's next week. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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