Painting with Broken Brushes
On December 21, 2015, I was awoken by my wife stirring in the bed next to me. Somehow, I knew what was about to happen. I don't know how I knew. Maybe she had shared a bad feeling earlier in the day. Maybe there had been some physical signs. Maybe it was the kind of intuition you have when your heart so desperately yearns for someone else that it reaches across the boundaries and limitations of physical experience to touch their soul. I honestly don't remember. But no matter what, I knew - Carly was about to have a miscarriage. In a few moments, our son, Manuel Dedal Morales, would be gone.
I'm ashamed to say I let her go through that alone. I was only half awake, and I convinced myself that it was a bad dream. That I would wake up in the morning and everything would be fine. But as I rolled over and swallowed a boulder of mourning down into my stomach, I knew that I was lying to myself. In the morning, she told me that she had lost the baby in the night. She said that she had let me sleep, that she had chosen to go through it alone. Until this moment, I've never corrected her. Carly, I'm so sorry for that.
In the days that followed, I slipped into a sinfully indulgent depression the likes of which I've never experienced before. Things happened in that week that terrified me to the very depths of my spirit. And when I finally confessed to Carly what was happening, how far I had fallen into the darkness of my own despairing heart, I did what I thought could not be done: I broke her broken heart even more. I wondered if we would ever recover.
Six weeks later, Carly left her job. We were in a much better place at the time, but she still needed the rest. She needed to be home with our daughter. Now that the pain had dulled, and we both felt like we could breathe a little, we had to take time to ponder together would life might look like. It's one thing to avoid self-destruction; it's another thing entirely to actually pursue mental, emotional, and spiritual health. We had been unchained, by the grace of God and the healing work of His Spirit. But what were being released to?
Not Easily Broken Ministries, as it turned out. Our organization has existed for seven months. Looking back, on the days I feel theologically and philosophically inclined, I wonder whether God took Manuel from us intentionally. Or whether He simply knew that Manuel would be lost to us and had a plan to use that pain - shape it according to His will. Or whether there's even really a difference. I'll never come down on one side of that argument or another. But what I know without question is that there is a straight line from every new day that Carly and I wake up and dive in to the work God has called us into in this ministry, and the moment that we lost Manuel in the early hours of that cold December morning.
If Manuel lives his life on Earth, Not Easily Broken Ministries never happens. If I don't have the horrible, sinful, dark response that I have, Not Easily Broken Ministries never happens. If I don't subsequently confess my suffering and self-medication, Not Easily Broken Ministries never happens. If Carly doesn't leave her job to take space to ponder our future, Not Easily Broken Ministries never happens. And if I hadn't ultimately left my job to dedicate myself fully to this ministry, Not Easily Broken Ministries wouldn't have lasted.
The days are getting shorter. And colder. Christmas time is only a couple months away. It will be a bittersweet time for our family, to be sure, as we remember the son we lost. But Carly and I have spent a lot of time recently discussing the last year, and we wouldn't trade what God has created for anything. He took two shattered, broken brushes and painted a mural of our lives, filled with such tremendous grace and beauty and mercy and abundance and faithfulness and joy that I can scarcely even imagine it. I cannot hold back my tears. Nor would I want to.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trails. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Chris is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
- 1 Peter 1:3-9
This is the Word of the Lord. Praise be to God.