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The Blessing of Those Who Carry the Cot | The Legacy of Baby August


Grief is a really odd experience to have. One day you’re powering through a list of to-dos like you’re on autopilot. The next, you’re numb. Grey. Lifeless. Sense of humor? What’s that? After losing our baby (you can read his story here), I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions and personality tweaks with my grief. I just don’t feel myself anymore. It’s unpredictable, and hard to manage.

Today I came across a post on social media about the story in Mark 2. And I feel like God reminded me of something really profound.

Mark 2:1-12 (ESV)

And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Paralyzed by Grief

In the days immediately following the loss of Baby August, I felt so numb. I could barely eat enough for weeks. I couldn’t sleep at night, and wanted to do nothing but sleep during the day. The apartment was a mess. Laundry was a mountain high, and mail piled on the kitchen table. I had to be reminded to do just about everything but breathe: take a shower, brush your teeth, eat something, go outside.

I used to be a tough love, “pull yourself together” type of girl when I went through something difficult. But this was different. I couldn’t. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — I lost the ability to do anything beyond survive. And while those kinds of grief waves have come less frequently and less intensely, there are still some days when I feel paralyzed, much like the man in Mark 2.

The Ones Who Carry the Cot

I had read the passage in Mark 2 many times in my life. But when the Lord brought it to my attention recently, I noticed some things that I never noticed before.

  1. Jesus did not shame the man for being paralyzed… for being helpless. He instead marveled at the faith of his friends who carried him in his own cot to see him.
  2. Jesus did not heal him right away… physically. He addresses the man’s soul first. And frankly, that could have been this man’s miracle. But the Lord saw fit to show His power not only to forgive sins, but to redeem the body (a picture of the resurrection to come when earth will one day be made new and we will dwell here again in a perfect, sinless form with Him; Revelation 21:1-4).

I feel like point #2 is a whole separate blog post. It’s a lesson that I’m still asking God to work out in my heart and reveal to me. So for now, I will focus on the first point.

The paralytic had no way of coming to Jesus without help. Similarly, the numbness felt in grief sometimes leaves us helpless to find the words to pray. It leaves us empty and shattered down to dust. We have questions, doubts, even anger toward God. But it can be hard — some days impossible — to articulate that in prayer or worship.

In these moments, I needed someone to “carry my cot” just like the men in Mark 2 carried their friend’s cot to the Lord. I have found it so much easier in these moments of overwhelming grief to ask for prayer from my friends than to go to the Lord myself. And beyond prayer, I needed to feel the Lord’s presence. And it has most often been felt from these selfless, servant-hearted people.

The Opposite of Carrying the Cot

Another lesson I’ve learned in this season is there are some who come along with a heart to help, but they unintentionally do anything but. Sometimes, we complicate helping someone in their grief or time of need, when all they truly need is to be brought to the foot of the cross. Some ways people try to help in ways other than simply carrying the cot are:

  • Denying the cot: We all know denial is one of the 5 stages of grief, but it doesn’t mean it’s healthy to add denial onto someone who’s grieving. Denying the difficulty or minimizing someone’s grief is not in actuality shrinking it out of existence. There’s no “just” when it comes to grief. I fought mental battles of feeling like my miscarriage shouldn’t be this painful, because I was “just” 10 weeks pregnant or because the baby was “just” an inch big. The pain is real. The loss is great. And you can’t ignore or deny grief — the only way to survive grief is to grieve.
  • Decorating the cot: So many well meaning people default to this strategy when pouring into a friend who’s grieving. It’s the optimist’s view of things. The people who try to always find a silver lining. If they can’t take away your pain, they’ll decorate it. If you’re tempted to tell a grieving friend to “look on the bright side,” or that “it’s going to be ok,” or “at least [this] or [that] happened/didn’t happen,” stop. Even if you’re right, grief clouds foresight and hindsight.
  • Disparaging the cot: This is where I might have landed before I started experiencing my own battle with grief. I sometimes still heap this on myself when I’m tired of my own grief waves. The truth is it’s easy to get impatient with irrational fears and toxic mindsets. But scolding someone, or yourself, out of feeling pain only creates more pain. You can’t regiment this journey for someone or yourself. You have to let it ebb and flow. Jesus did not disparage the paralytic for being paralyzed… or even for being sinful. He merely forgave him and healed him, telling him to leave his old life behind once the healing came.

To Those Who Carried My Cot

When I lost Baby August, and even today as I deal with my recovery and grief journey, I’ve had friends and family who so beautifully picked me up and carried by cot to the feet of Jesus. This was done in numerous ways, and I am so thankful for each one. Every effort was a dose of healing along the way. It also proves that there’s more than one way to carry someone’s cot.

To the friends and family members who called and texted, both when we first experienced our loss and in follow-ups on the road to healing, thank you for carrying my cot. Every word, even when you felt or expressed you didn’t have the perfect thing to say, meant the world.

To the friends who visited and gave a literal shoulder to cry on, thank you for carrying my cot. Sometimes just feeling held, even in silence outside of the sobs and sniffles, felt like being held by Jesus. You were the physical representation of his arms for me.

To the friends who brought food or treated us to dinner, thank you for carrying my cot. I’ve expressed before that it was hard at times to remember to eat, because hunger wasn’t noticeable above the pain. Your forward action helped sustain me when I couldn’t think to sustain myself.

To the friends who lended us their dog for a few days, THANK YOU for carrying my cot. You know who you are. And what a creative, yet supremely therapeutic gift that was! When I couldn’t get the motivation to leave my bed or my couch, your sweet pup forced me to my feet to care for something other than myself. And the snuggles when I just needed to weep helped me do so without feeling lonely.

To the friends who supported Kevin individually, thank you for carrying our cot. In miscarriage, Fathers are often forgotten. But grief is hard on relationships. You investing in my husband and allowing him to grieve made him all the stronger to carry me every day.

To the friends who don’t know what to say, but pray for us privately, thank you for carrying our cot. I know your lack of words comes from a place of care and fear of making things worse. There’s so much grace for that. But we appreciate when you even think of us at all and bring our petition before the Lord for healing.

If you are also enduring a trial in life, just remember that friends who carry you to the arms of Jesus and foot of the cross are the greatest blessing in times like this. Name them. Thank them. And remember them… especially when your miracle or rainbow comes.

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