by Julie Raymond Chalk
I was well into my second trimester when we lost the baby. We were relaxing at home on a Sunday afternoon when the cramping began. Before we’d even received a call back from the doctor, a tiny baby boy was born. Stillborn, into our hands, his body perfectly formed in every way.
The following days were filled with shock, then a profound sadness overcame us. We had so wanted a sibling for our three-year-old son, Nathaniel, and I’d already had a miscarriage before we lost this baby, whom we’d named Isaiah. Was this not in God’s plan for our family? How were we to go on from here? I wasn’t inclined to ask, “Why me?” because even if God had given me an answer, there would never have been a reason good enough to justify taking my son. Up until now, I had trusted God with the safety of my loved ones. Now I was learning that their safety wasn’t guaranteed, and perhaps wasn’t even God’s concern.
We moved on with our lives. I continued to take Nathaniel to play dates and story times and playgrounds and Sunday School. I started to notice how many other mothers were in these places, pregnant mothers, and mothers with newborns as well as children Nathaniel’s age with siblings to play with. I was growing bitter. I was finding it more and more difficult to be around families with young children. A seed of envy started to grow in the angry soil of my heart. I started asking God, “Why have you blessed their families and not ours?” Becoming more resentful, it became harder to buy those requisite shower gifts, take the meals over after the birth, and even congratulate the new parents.
About a year later I was attending a women’s retreat in our diocese. The theme was healing, and I was sitting alone in one of the break-out sessions, listening to a talk about forgiveness. Suddenly, I felt God speaking to me: “Do you realize that the unforgiveness in your heart is against me?” Was this really God asking me to forgive him? Wasn’t it supposed to be me asking for his forgiveness? After all, that’s what I’d always been taught. I hadn’t even confessed the resentment, bitterness, and lack of trust which had grown into a thriving plant inside me.
But somehow, in that moment, I realized that God does care about us, our pain, our families, and our losses. God was asking me to forgive him for something he’d allowed but that I didn’t understand. I’d felt betrayed, and this was an opportunity to be reconciled with the God I had known and loved for most of my life. I didn’t want to lose my relationship with him. And by not forgiving him for allowing this loss in my life, I had permitted a bitterness to grow that was poisoning not just my relationship with him but with everyone else too.
That day I chose to forgive God. I also asked for his forgiveness for allowing my resentment to grow between us. After the retreat, I returned to my life and daily routine. A couple of weeks later, I realized that my feelings of bitterness were gone. I had been able to rejoice with my friend who’d just had a new baby. I no longer avoided the library and playgrounds where young children hung out with their parents. In addition, I found out that I was pregnant again.
Early the next year, our daughter, Naomi, was born. And, while that pregnancy was filled with the normal worries, I was thankful for each day I had with my unborn child.
Now that my children are grown, I still treasure each day that I have with them, knowing that each moment spent with a loved one is truly a gift. My experience of reconciling with God after he allowed our son to die was a springboard to gratitude for everything he provides and does for us. And I’ve been grateful ever since.
For your own reflection:
If you have never considered forgiving God, think about if that is something you need to do.
Think carefully about the author’s words of God “allowing” this situation to enter her life. How does that differ from blaming God?
For what are you grateful today?
Julie Chalk is a geriatric social worker who lives in Canyon Lake and attends St. Francis by the Lake. She is also one of the facilitators for Community of Hope in her parish. Reach her at