by Jessie Cruickshank
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
It was supposed to be a joyous time, full of color and celebration. But the light felt flat and my heart stung as we sang carols during the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Stories of a pregnant Mary and an imminent birth cut into my soul as I fought to numb myself to the ache. I was supposed to be 7 months pregnant by now. I was supposed to ‘round and expecting.’
Anger and jealousy welled up in my heart, replacing what had been hope of a baby-themed Christmas. Months has passed since the miscarriage, but I still felt so raw and unraveled.
“Mary did you know!” rang out when a line pierced the protective hardness of my heart. “This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.” I started picturing Jesus on the cross with his mother weeping at his feet. In that moment of imagination, I heard God say, “My child died too.”
I stopped singing, arrested by the thought. God had lost his child to death and so had I.
I was caught, shocked. My breath stuck in my throat. I had always thought Emmanuel referred to Jesus visiting earth and bridging the gap between heaven and humanity. I had never thought about what it meant to me personally. But suddenly, the God that for months had seemed so far away and cruel now seemed caring, compassionate, and closer than my own skin.
In that moment, God showed me something that changed my world forever. He reminded me that Jesus lived in me, incarnated in me, and therefore everything I experience, he experiences also (Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 3:17). But not as a movie, watching from the outside. Rather the incarnation meant that he has committed to living my life with me, experiencing it with me through my feelings, my thoughts, and my body.
I melted into my seat, salty tears rolling down my face as I worked to keep back the sobs. Thankful that a candlelight service meant my tear-stained face was less visible.
Emmanuel. Emmanuel. God with us. Not just on the outside like a friend, but on the inside, like my heart. This meant that whatever God allows me to go through in my life, he goes through too. He feels also. God can’t be that cruel if he chooses to go through it too. And he can’t be that far away if he is inside my very soul.
It has been many years and several more miscarriages since that revelation. The losses have come and the children have not, but even in all my grief, struggle, and wilderness wandering, I have never felt alone. There are times I am too angry at God to talk to him, but even then he sits with me and holds me if I let him. He has remained closer than my skin.
Journeying with Emmanuel and embracing the mystery of the incarnation has yielded the deep conviction that answers and information are a poor substitute for the incarnational presence of the living God made manifest to me. He celebrates and wows me on the mountain top. He holds my heart and keeps me breathing in my valley of loss. And it is enough.
Jessie is an ordained Foursquare minister, serving the body of Christ in multiple capacities through organizational discipleship. She is a philosopher, neuro-ecclesiologist, disciple-maker, speaker and author. You can find more of her work at www.yourbrainbyjess.com or follow her on Twitter @yourbrainbyjess.