Tuesday, December 21, 2010

finding meaning

I think we all want to find meaning in life. A purpose for our being.

I feel as though I have led two different lives. Before Kathleen and after Kathleen. My first life was pretty comfortable, you may even call it normal. I would go for daily walks on the beach with my son. I attended mom's groups and hung out with other normal moms. My church ministry was multimedia which kept me rather busy. It was a different life. Not necessarily a wrong or meaningless life, just different.

Then Kathleen was born and it turned everything upside down. Her short life brought so much pain into mine that sometimes I wasn't sure how I was going to survive, and I wondered if the rest of my life would be a matter of surviving rather than living. I wondered how God could and would use all of this. I was no longer the same person and couldn't continue to do the same things. Of course I was still a mother and did the things a mother does. But there had to be more. There had to be something I could use this loss for, this pain. Something that would give it purpose, give it meaning. The things that had given my life meaning in the past, no longer cut it.
The words of Ecclesiastes would go through my mind:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

After my loss I spent a lot of time online connecting with other bereaved mothers. I had no idea there were so many and it seemed the numbers were increased daily.. I found that this mutual support and encouragement through the journey of grief and also subsequent pregnancies were invaluable. But I had a burning desire to do more, something face to face. I just didn't know what. And so I waited, wondering. Wondering what I could possible contribute, how I could make a difference.

Two years later the doors opened and I became a volunteer photographer for forget-me-not, taking pictures of babies that have passed or will pass or may pass so that the families can have lasting memories. I found that there was something I could do for others and that my pain had meaning. I know it may seem strange to some that I find my meaning and purpose in other people's pain. But reality is that this kind of loss happens so very often, more often than we know or would like to think. I am brokenhearted for the families and wish things were different for them, but in the midst of the pain I feel alive. I am no longer just surviving, I am living. But if a while passes and I don't get a hospital call (maybe another photographer gets the call, maybe the family chooses not to have photos taken..) I start to get irritable, frustrated, restless.
I don't expect you to understand but without the pain, without this ministry, my life feels meaningless.

But then I get a call and I know that my life has meaning. I believe our lives have meaning when we serve God, and I believe we serve God by serving people. As I go into the hospitals with my camera I know I am doing just that. I am serving, I am finding meaning - meaning for my life, and for Kathleen's short one.


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