Many readers have fallen in love with Ann Voskamp and her book One Thousand Gifts. I am one of them. I love books that I can honestly say have changed my life. With its message of grace, joy, and eucharisteo (The Greek word for Thanksgiving), Voskamp’s book has forever changed my perspective on what it means to be thankful.
It has also changed my perspective on tattoos. I have never wanted a tattoo, but the day I finished reading One Thousand Gifts, my desire for a tattoo changed. Not only do I now secretly wish to get a tattoo, I know, without a doubt, that if I ever worked up the guts to actually have ink needled into my skin, I would have ‘Eucharisteo’ tattooed on one wrist and ‘All Is Grace’ tattooed on the other.
It seems extreme, I know. I can imagine my tattoos lightly imprinted across my wrists. Some days, it is simply hard to be thankful, and days when thanksgiving comes hard, I can’t help but believe that the permanent ink reminder of a tattoo would be its own sort of grace.
Today is one of those days. The call came just minutes ago. Brokenhearted, the voices of my brother-in-law and his sweet wife informed my husband and me that their babies, unborn at six weeks…twins…are gone, miscarried.
Gone? Miscarried? Thanksgiving? Grace?
The staggering news came as I sat down to rock my own baby, my breath of Heaven, now twelve months old. I hold her, I rock, and I pray.
“Lord, be with them, be with all of us.” While no one can understand my brother and sister-in-law’s ache completely, I know this loss will affect the whole of our close-knit family.
As I continue to pray, I can feel my mother’s heart beating steady against baby chest. I hold her tighter and my prayers rest on my sister-in-law. “Lord, I don’t know the pain and agony of a miscarriage, but I do know the pain of a hope that seizes every inch of your heart, and the agony of that hope deferred. I know the road that lies ahead of my loved ones will not be an easy one.”
Praying is all I can do, so I keep praying.
“Lord, don’t let Satan get a foothold.”
“Lord, walk with them through this.”
“Lord, when the whys come without answers, don’t let this push them away from you.”
“Dear, Lord, use this to draw them closer to you, to show them more fully who you are and what your love is.”
I think of eucharisteo, of grace and how hard it is to be thankful, to believe that this too, is grace. How do you say ‘thank you’ for children unknown? For names never given? For babies not held? This doesn’t feel like grace.
Still tighter, I hold onto Heaven.
I am not going to claim to know the answer to this question of how to say thank you when thanksgiving is hard, but in the moment, as I hold my baby, and my family hold’s their broken hearts, and God in Heaven holds our tears, I can be thankful for something:
“Lord, thank you that even though we, on this earth, will never know these children, that you know them.”
“Lord, thank you that even though we will never know their names, that they are called by you.”
“Lord, thank you that even though our human arms will never hold them, that you are holding them, even now.”
“Thank you, Lord, that because of you, death is transfigured to victory, and that someday, (soon, Lord!), this stinging ache, this loss of now, will be redeemed, restored, set right.”
My baby asleep, I lay her down and grasp at words. I look at my wrist and run a finger over blank skin. Today would be a good day to get that tattoo, permanent ink, to remember permanent scars, which make even the hard thanksgiving possible.