In 2007 I was going to name my daughter Grace. I had big plans for her, but … since God needed her in heaven, he named her up there before she was born…
She would have been blonde and preppy I think, like my son…and she would have loved sports, also like him… I would have taught her to use her voice, to stick up for herself, to be willing to be vulnerable, to tell the truth and to be a loyal, true friend. I’d have encouraged her to have a neat room (since having one always makes me feel good) and to have friends over often. We’d have ridden bikes together, gone to hockey, football and baseball games (definitely sports stuff with her big brother and I), swam, fished and taken nature walks. I’d hope she’d learn to be a good cook, but that would not have been from me and I’d teach her that everything seems better when you have your lip-gloss on. There are just about a million things I would have taught her, but most importantly I would have tried to teach her to be herself.
But, since God determined he needed my little Grace up there in heaven, I didn’t get a chance to teach her these things. Instead, He decided to put other young women in my life who have reached out to me asking to be taught, to be honored, validated, inspired and even loved … and this has absolutely been Grace … God’s Grace…
It’s funny how God works. But over the years there have been quite a few of these women that have come to me through a fellowship I am actively involved in. Beautiful women who have reached out for guidance and direction on how to “walk the walk,” who have taught me as much as I have them. Their personalities run the gamut: shy, feisty, stubborn, artistic, athletic, talented, quirky, defiant, belligerent, assertive, passive, frightened or brave. As do their looks: blond, brunette, red headed, blue eyed, green or brown, tall, lanky, short, thin or stocky. But each one, in her own totally individual way, is gorgeous although she generally doesn’t know it when we first meet. They have become my “girls.” Graceful, amazing, girls to whom I send my love as I try to guide them, offer them advice when they ask for it and mostly just be there for them.
These “girls” and I care about each other and we share our hopes, our experiences and our many moments of Grace. One such moment was a turning point for me a few years back. I was helping one of the “girls” through some unprocessed grief over her miscarriage well into the pregnancy, while expressing to her how I absolutely understood. At first she had an air about her that said, “You might think you understand, but there’s no way you know what this feels like.” But suddenly, after a moment where she looked straight into my eyes, I literally felt her heart shift and her expression change as she saw my truth. I felt her say without saying, “She really, really does know what I am feeling. Oh my God, she really does.” And I watched tears stream down her face, realizing that they were streaming down mine too as we both sat with her grief, with our grief. I felt her heart crack open just a tiny bit as mine cracked open yet a little bit more and we processed together a loss, two losses, a hundred losses and then gently realized that we were actually processing a huge gain.
The next day she called me and something had shifted in our relationship. There was an open-ness in her voice that hadn’t quite been there before. After talking for a few minutes, I could tell that she had pushed through to another stage of her grieving when she suddenly asked, “Do you ever think that you didn’t have that child because God needed you here in Florida for all of us?” “Did you ever think you weren’t supposed to, because then you wouldn’t have been able to do His plan for you?” And the way she said it was as if He were speaking right through her. After we hung up, I realized it wasn’t the first time I had been asked that same question and I had to honor yet another moment of Grace. As these moments I now look for always are, it was absolutely incredible.
Ever since that day, that phone call, I sincerely trust that whatever losses I have incurred have all been part of the gains and that I am where I am supposed to be. I trust and believe that all is unfolding exactly according to the Universe and God’s plan. I know, most of the time anyway, that it all goes the way it is supposed to go. Although we can’t always understand it, somewhere down the road something happens which will show us proof that our destiny is being taken care of if we are doing our best to “walk the walk.” Beyond that, if we put our love out to where it is being asked for, instead of staying stuck in where we didn’t get to put it, all will be right and good in our world.
And I have to chuckle with what has occurred to me. These girls and I over time, in some way shape or form, have gone on nature walks, ridden bikes, learned about being vulnerable, gone to football games, cleaned rooms together literally and figuratively, told the truth, fished and well, now that I think about it, we’ve done everything I’d planned on teaching Grace to do had she been born.
And when I think of how blessed I am to have them in my life, I smile and remember the three important things I have expressed to them that we talk about regularly:
1. “You are the Prize!”
2. “When people show you who they are, believe them!”
3. Live with a fearless attitude of: “I’m not hiding. I want you to know me!”
We all take turns reminding each other of these mantras and realize that this is what Grace is. It is sharing moments of love, life and sorrow along the way and listening to and learning from one another about how to go out there in the world being yourself. I remember the day about six months ago when one of them called and excitedly told me she’d gotten a tattoo. She was so eager to show it to me that she sent me a text with a photo of it. I must admit I’ve never been much of a tattoo person, but when I saw this one, I actually started to cry. It was a truly unique design, just like she is, within which were the words from one of my mantras, “I want you to know me, I’m not hiding.”
And there it was, another moment of Grace, another gift. Another moment of clarity where I knew absolutely, in my heart of hearts, that I was supposed to be in her life for this moment. Where I knew that although things don’t always go the way we hope they will, they always go according to a divine plan. I believe that God is smiling over all of us asking us to trust the process. He wants us to know that there is truly a purpose for all that we go through.
Without a doubt, any loss I have ever experienced, including the one I have written about here, has happened to open my heart for all that has come since that loss. I remember a gut wrenching scene from a long ago movie “Shadowlands” with Debra Winger and Anthony Hopkins where she is telling him, “the pleasure is part of the pain.” And so it is. And once we realize this, we can all share and learn together that we couldn’t possibly experience such gratitude, such love, such limitless hope unless we had experienced the pain of loss.
And so, Grace, sweet, sweet Grace … I will look for you today in the eyes of all the women in my life. We all need to be reminded …