No … not that one. The four letter ‘f’ word I’m thinking about today is ‘fear’.
Because one of the hardest things about considering pregnancy again after experiencing a miscarriage is the fear that you can feel about it.
This March it’s Pregnancy After Loss Awareness Month, which aims to highlight the need for ongoing support for women, not just straight after a miscarriage or baby loss, but also in the longer term as they try to extend their family again.
Because as I have learned only too well firsthand over this past year, grief is not a linear process. And even when you think you’re ready to move on, it can hit you again at you expected times. Like anniversaries, or missed birth dates, or a friend’s baby shower, or even in another healthy pregnancy.
But for me, the hardest part right now is not actually living with the loss, but dealing with the fear and anxiety in the months that follow.
Fear of not ever getting pregnant again…
But fear of getting pregnant too…
And since this is our third time round on this rollercoaster ride of pregnancy and miscarriage now, I am feeling all of the feels that come with that.
Feeling some level of anxiety about a new pregnancy is a pretty common and normal thing for many couples to experience, especially in that first trimester. J
But honestly, the anxiety levels after experiencing a previous miscarriage or baby loss, can be next level…
I mean, in my first pregnancy with my son Ben, I had no real reason to worry. I got pregnant fairly quickly, and everything seemed to be progressing well, so I could disregard the occasional anxious thought with relatively little effort.
But now, after recurrent miscarriages, the fear can be just so palpable at times; and I’m not really a very anxious person normally either…
How can you overcome fear?
The Bible tells us not to fear an awful lot, doesn’t it?
But I think it’s actually a pretty natural human response when we’re confronted with a heightened sense of risk, danger or the possibility of being out of control. In fact, experiencing that ‘fight or flight instinct is part of how we’ve been created…
So is the Bible seriously suggesting that we can just stop feeling fear altogether? Or worse still, that feeling fearful is somehow ‘sinful’ or wrong?
Personally, I don’t think so…
In Joshua 1: 9 it says this: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.’
It’s interesting to note how Joshua doesn’t actually tell the people of Israel ‘Do not fear’. whilst they faced their enemy.
Because of course they felt afraid. But in their fear, he encouraged them to be strong and courageous, and not to be ‘terrified’.
In other words, don’t be terrified by it. Don’t be paralysed by it. Don’t be consume by it. And don’t let that fear completely take over…
And he also encourages them to be strong and courageous through the knowledge that the Lord was with them; and that they are not just left abandoned or alone – even in the midst of their fear.
So maybe biblically speaking, being courageous is not so much an absence of fear feelings at all; but more about learning how to rest into the knowledge of His presence with you despite what is going on.
And it’s a theme that actually repeat over and over, throughout the Bible; whatever your reason for feeling fearful or anxious might be, the antidote is almost always found in a greater awareness of God’s presence. Here’s just a few examples…
‘So do not fear, for I am with you’ (Isaiah 41:10)
‘He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. ’ (Deuteronomy 31:8)
‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me’ (Psalm 23:4)
‘Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Deuteronomy 31:6)
‘For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear’ (Isaiah 41:13)
‘The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.’ (Psalm 118:6)
The truth is that it does feel scary not to be in control of everything that happens in your life, but you can always trust and depend upon the God who is.