There for the Hard Stuff: The Purpose of Community

We are one body

Becky St. Clair
There for the Hard Stuff: The Purpose of Community

In 2014 I had a miscarriage. It was my third pregnancy; the first two had gone well and resulted in two healthy, beautiful babies, and there was no explanation as to why the third had not happened the same way. I know now that one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, but nine years ago all I knew was that the baby I was supposed to eventually hold in my arms, and name, and snuggle, and teach to eat and walk and talk would never do any of those things. It broke my heart.

We found out two days before my birthday; two days before Sabbath. I remember skipping church that week and going to the lake instead, trying to add “fun” and “happy” to what felt like an impossibly bleak, gray moment in time. I remember celebrating my birthday with my coworkers, wanting to appreciate the effort they’d put in, and instead feeling like a mannequin brought to life.

I remember the following weekend, stepping into church and seeing my friend across the lobby, pregnant belly on full display. Immediately I turned around and left the building to pull myself together.

For about a week I didn’t talk about the miscarriage. I wasn’t sure what to say; the baby had been only 8 weeks along, and it felt a bit dramatic mourning something that small and unknown. I knew so many other parents whose lives had been turned completely upside-down when they lost a baby at 36 weeks, 18 months, 2 years, 15 years, 18 years. What right did I have to grieve my early term loss?

But I’m a writer, and I process thoughts through written words, and so I had to write. Even if no one read it, I had to tell my story. I wrote a series of blog posts as I staggered through the weeks following that doctor’s visit forever seared into my memory. I poured my grief into every word I wrote, sharing my journey with all the raw honesty I could muster.

What shocked me were the responses to my story. Message after message landed in my inbox from friends who’d experienced the same type of loss, and I’d never known. Most admitted they didn’t talk about it, keeping their pain to themselves, unsure how to express it.

And every single one of them thanked me for sharing my grief publicly. They hadn’t shared theirs because they thought people didn’t want to hear the hard stuff. They shouldered their sorrow alone.

We aren’t meant to go through life alone. We are meant to live in community and share our joys and our sorrows. Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “carry each other’s burdens,”* and Proverbs 17:17 tells us that “a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Paul wrote in Romans 1, “I long to see you so that . . . you and I may be mutually encouraged” (verses 11, 12).

This is the purpose of community—to support each other and share the load of life’s many challenges. I implore you to do two things. First, take advantage of your community and let them know when you’re struggling so they can lift you up; and second, make sure to be the community for others when they need you. We are one body, and “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).

* Bible texts are from the New International Version.

Becky St. Clair

Becky St. Clair is a freelance writer living in California with her husband and three children. She has a decade of experience in public relations for the church, and currently writes and copyedits for various church entities around the world.