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Tough guy

“Sometimes you have to play hurt.”

It’s a phrase I heard often in childhood. The source was my dad, an avid football fan. I’d watch games with him and was fascinated by players on the field who were nursing injuries but continued doing their jobs—rocketing into the air despite tightly wrapped sprained ankles, catching footballs with a broken ring finger. These decisions weren’t necessarily wise and many players paid years down the road. They aren’t famous for living long lives. Many die years before their expected life spans because of the wear and tear on their bodies.

As a mother, I am intimately acquainted with the notion of playing hurt. Got a nasty cold? The kids still have to get to school. Have a relentless headache? The baby isn’t going to change her own diaper. Play hurt. My husband is wonderful about stepping in when I am under the weather. But he has a job and other responsibilities and cannot always come to my rescue at a moments notice.

Facing this third miscarriage, I find myself adopting my play-hurt attitude. I feel like I need to be bold—barreling through my emotions with my eyes focused forward, leaving an impressive wake. We were driving somewhere and my husband noted the very true fact that it is okay for me to show emotion and be sad about losing another baby. I answered him by saying “I’m a tough guy.”

Jaw set, eyes narrowed, adrenaline pumping, bring-it-on.

But I am tired. It takes too much energy to keep up the fist-shaking resolve of Scarlett O’Hara swearing, “as God is my witness…” You believe her. She will never go hungry again.

I was believing myself, too, when I told others I was fine and tough and resilient and have “done it before.” I may be all those things, sometimes. The biggest thing I am right now is foolish for thinking I will get through life unscathed, unbattered, or unbroken—though my own power. No matter how it looks from the outside, I am feeling each and every minute that creeps by. You’d think, after my previous losses, I’d understand this. The biggest mistake I have made is crediting God for my strength. I suddenly realized He doesn’t want this kind of credit right now.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Mat. 5:4

He wants to bless me, and He has abundantly in so many ways. But if I can’t let myself mourn because I’ve slapped up a steely front of invincibility, then I cannot be comforted by anyone—I am cutting myself off from the blessing of being held, loved, made to rest. I can’t go back and change the past. It is what it is. Something bad happened to us and it is okay to admit it hurts.

I am not a tough guy.

*Lay down your weary tune, lay down.
Lay down the song you strum,
and rest yourself beneath the strength of strings
no voice can hope to hum. ~Bob Dylan

*Posted after my second miscarriage, when I was smarter.

13 comments to Tough guy

  • This rings so true to me, too. Thank you for writing it. I hope your sorrow comes and is quickly comforted.

  • I do the same thing when there is a death in the family. I want to be the one others lean on, not the one who needs comforted. I am praying for you in this loss. God is good and He is waiting for you to come to Him for your comfort and strength.

  • This is such a great complement to a coversation I had with my husband yesterday. Thanks for your honesty. You articulated somethings that I was feeling and couldn’t articulate for myself.

  • Mopsy, I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you as you let yourself hurt and be comforted.

  • AMEN! You described ME exactly, after my second MC (when I was dumber). The Lord had to say “you are a hypocrite! You believe life begins at conception, yet you will not grieve this little one’s life. You need to give her that honor; she deserves to be grieved.” He said it nicer than that, it’s just that He had to yell for me to hear Him (usually that way with me).

    My third miscarriage I kept a secret from my children. Some of them took the others so hard that I didn’t want to have to be comforting when I needed comfort! But the Lord was so good to provide a small band of comforters to lift me up in prayer.

    Oh Gretchen, I so understand. I wish there was some way I could help, but I pray you know the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of those who weep with you.

  • I think I’ve said this before, but I don’t think the grieving ever really stops. I still calculate how old she would be, and I wonder what has become of her spirit. Did it got to another body? Is it waiting for us somewhere? So many unanswered questions are involved in a situation like this, both why’s and how’s, and maybe we will carry those questions with us to the grave. But I believe someday they will be answered.

  • HUGS! SUch good advice. Thank you for sharing it.

  • I can’t imagine how you feel – I’ve never even been pregnant. But I’m grieving with you today. Thanks for the beautifully sad and eloquent writing. May God, the author of peace, fill you with his comfort.

  • Oh Mopsy, you really are brave! What an honest, heart wrenching post.

    I really hope you give yourself time to mourn. I’ll be keeping you and yours in my prayers.

  • Miscarriages hurt and hurt.
    I’m praying for you.

  • Miscarriages are awful. I’m so sorry.

  • The G-Ma

    Your “Tough Guy” insights are sacred and important. You already know this, but lissen up anyway: God weeps with you in your grief. As Inkling above asked, “Where are they now?” I like to think mine was sitting on Jesus’ lap, playing with the folds of his heavenly garb and receiving her own comfort from him because their plans didn’t work out.

    Another divine mystery to mull over. Of course there are no tangible answers. I hope you have named the baby! Grieve, and sing his or her spirit a lullaby of departure.

    I send pillows of comfort and ease for you and your family. May your souls smile again soon.

  • I, too, am so very sorry. You have every right to mourn, and to let others help you.

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