Empty Arms


Empty. It’s a hard place to be as one who so many years ago vividly remembers beaming and answering “a mommy” when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Over the years the answer to that question have varied quiet extensively and have taken me all over the world in a sense. Even led me to the calling of ministry. But it still remains that “mommy” is one aspect of who I am that is not yet realized.

Carrying a ‘little one’ in one’s own body for however long makes still having empty arms all the more difficult. I do not yet have all the words to describe the sense of loss and grief and even failure after experiencing a natural miscarriage, on a Sunday no less. As a minister I was ready and thinking I would be capable of leading a congregation in worship as I cramped and bled. How wrong I was that early Sunday morning as I stood in a waiting room after being checked by a doctor. And how glad I am to have the caring, insightful husband who said “no” to a wife who often gives of herself to others rather than saying “yes” to caring for herself when she needs it most.

Ministry can be a lonely place at times when carrying with others their grief, worry, sadness, and hurt. Ministry can be a lonely place at times when you wish you weren’t in the public eye so much as a leader in the community. Ministry can be a lonely place when you worry about private, personal struggles behind the scenes while bearing the Christ Light for your brothers and sisters. Ministry can be a lonely place when you miscarry the baby only your nearest friends and husband knew about and you were so looking forward to sharing the joyous news with hopeful family and congregation who have been desperate for their minister to be holding a baby of her own from the day they called her to be their minister. Ministry can be a lonely place when you feel your arms empty when all you want is for them to be filled with a little one, like the arms of the couple whose child is before you to be baptized.

Empty arms are something I am learning to cope with in my grief. Yet, I know the arms that that I rest in are not empty. God’s arms bear my grief, my sorrow, my little one who never took a breath, my yet unrealized hopes of motherhood, my sense of failure as a wife, my sense of fear of breaking down in tears whenever anyone asks how I am, my worry about the future and trying again. God’s arms are not empty but full of all the mothers and fathers who suffer from miscarriage each day. Thank God, the arms that hold me are strong and can bear much, for I need to lean on them in my time of weakness.

Someday, my arms won’t feel as empty as they do today. Someday, my childhood dream will fill me to the brim with love and joy. Someday, I will hold a child in these now empty arms. Someday, this experience will benefit me as a minister in caring for others. Someday, but today I’m going to curl up, rest and have cry in the safe, loving arms of the one who has known me from my mother’s womb where I was knitted together. Today, I’ll trust in the arms that hold all the little ones and their parents.


20 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Oh, I’ve been there and it’s SO SO SO hard. You expressed it perfectly. I loved the line about the tensions between our personal struggles and bearing Christ’s Light to others.

    Reply
  2. Katy
    Katy says:

    Thank you for sharing – I had a pregnancy loss after years of trying and it was, as you said, devastating. Ministry can be a very lonely place in such times. Prayers for you.

    Reply
  3. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    You expressed it beautifully.
    The hardest part for me after my miscarriage was baptizing other babies a year later, when mine would have been baptized.
    I did share my miscarriage experience with others in the congregation, and for some women, it did allow them to talk about their own miscarriages, often a taboo subject. It was a good reminder to me that my congregation wants to minister to me as well.
    Peace to you and all the mothers with empty arms

    Reply
  4. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    I too had a miscarriage on a Sunday morning…and foolishly I went to church (thank goodness I was not preaching that Sunday). I’m glad your spouse had the wisdom to say “no”. What has struck me since is how very many women have miscarriages and how deeply I wished I’d known that when I was in the midst of the pain (both physical, mental and spiritual).

    Reply
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