D’un beau affreux. The ugly beautiful.

This is a post I have been putting off for oh….at least a good month or more.

I have wanted to share with you {and myself} how God has been healing, restoring, and changing my heart.

It has been hard and raw and gritty.

It’s ongoing.

When I would stop to think about writing it all out, I would get way too overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts and just push it away for another day. But, basically, at this point, I have an entire book to write, so I had best get on with it.

Where we left things:

Today, I am Rachel {for those unfamiliar with my story}

Life Lately {the post where I said, y’all. I need a counselor. Stat.}

After I published my Life Lately post I got a barrage of emails, comments, and messages from loving and generous people, praying for me, offering advice, thanking me for being open, recommending counselors to me. After I saw one name come up multiple times, I decided to finally give her a call.

I emailed this to Jim recently, because I had seen it in this post and it really struck me. Because, it’s a lot of how I feel about this situation.

“We’ve become the therapy family. Sometimes that’s still a bit foreign and off-putting to me. I still want to end all of this with, “but not the crazy therapy kind,” and then I think:

1. Who cares if it was?

2. What the heck is crazy, really?

3. It’s changed our lives.”

So, I called. Which, was hard enough. Saying you need a counselor and then actually choosing to pick up that phone and call one was a huge step of faith for me. And then they didn’t have any openings for Jim and I together{which I was insistent upon}. No lunch times. No evening times. We could be put on a “multiple month” waiting list if we would like. I said nooooo thanks to that{I’m crazy now, dude} and asked if they had any recommendations for another female in the area{another thing I was absolutely insistent upon}. She suggested another church nearby. I was skeptical. I called. Answering machine.

At this point I’m just in tears. It was hard enough for me to get to this point and then it felt like it just wasn’t worth it. I have to pay for these appointments. I have to pay for a babysitter. Heck, I have to even find a babysitter who can watch Abigail first. Then I have to schedule where Jim can come with me….and on and on.

I sat down to read the book my mother in law gave me for my birthday. 1,000 gifts. So good. Buy it immediately. Let me share with you guys what passage I read after these phone calls:

“We sit in a room with bodies broken and casted, bent over walkers…burned, the skin dressed in gauze, the skin exposed, grafted, mottled, scarred. No one speaks. We try not to stare at each other but I can’t keep myself from saying it to God, this raw sob echoing St. Teresa of Avila’s: “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!” Can I be that honest?

I am David lamenting, “O Lord, Why…?”{Psalm 10:1} Why this broken world punched through with losses? “O Lord, how long?” {Psalm 13:1} How long until every baby thrives and all children sleep down the hall from a mom and a dad wrapped up in love, and each womb swells with vigorous life, and every single cancer clinic sits empty and we all grow old together? How long?….And I lament: please. And He takes the empty hands and draws me close to the thrum of Love. “You may suffer loss but in Me is anything ever lost, really? Isn’t everything that belongs to Christ also yours? Loved ones lost still belong to Him–then aren’t they still yours? Do I not own the cattle on a thousand hills; everything? Aren’t then all provisions, in Christ also yours? If you haven’t lost Christ, child, nothing is ever lost. Remember, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God”{Acts 14:22} and in “sharing in my Son’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death” you come “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” {Phillippians 3:10}

And I nod soft, yes, father. You long to transfigure all…..

The wrinkled man in the wheelchair with the legs wrapped, the girl with the face punctured deep with the teeth marks of a dog, the mess of this world, and I see—this, all this, is what the French call d’un beau affreux, what the Germans call hubsch-hasslich—the ugly beautiful. That which is perceived as ugly transfigures into beautiful. What the postimpressionist painter Paul Gauguin expressed as “Le laid peut etre beau”—-the ugly can be beautiful. The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace.”

I’m reading this passage and I am quite literally weeping. I mean, sobbing. I look over and my phone is ringing. It’s the counseling center with the answering machine. It’s the actual counselor and not just a secretary. And she could get us in for an evening appointment in a few days.

As if I wasn’t sobbing enough already.

There aren’t many things more amazing {to me} in my christian walk than the absolute slamming shut of one door, only to quickly experience the opening of a different one. I can place so much confidence into situations like that because I can physically feel His hands guiding me to that place. This counseling center was where He wanted us.

I continued to be skeptical{what can I say….just being honest} all the way up to that first appointment. We walked through the doors and our counselor, her name is Naomi, did not strike me as a person I would choose. Everything about her seemed to me like someone I just wouldn’t “mesh” with. I feel like I get along pretty well with everyone, but there are just certain types of people that you click with better than others. She didn’t seem like that type.

But, something amazing happened during those sessions. She has become the absolute best thing that has come into my life since the loss of my sweet ones and really, even the journey of infertility.

We have had 3 sessions so far and here are a few of things that have really, really affected me:

In session one, I basically had to just tell her our entire story from start to finish. I was so worried, so, so worried about her saying something insensitive about infertility. But you know what? She never did. She had no idea about most of what I was talking about, but she asked and she listened in the most amazing way and it never bothered me to have to explain anything to her. As I told her our story, she wept with us. That was so profound to me. Because, so many times, I feel like I’ve blown this situation up unnecessarily. Like, was it really that big of a deal? Was it really that big of a loss? Do I really need to be struggling with it this much? And seeing her reaction to our story told me yes. Yes. YES. The greatest thing that came from our first session was validation. She validated my loss. She genuinely felt that loss with me and she came alongside to help me heal.

In session two, she grilled my husband. It was amazing, y’all. One of the hardest things about this is the difference between men and women.

For Jim: “Yes, it was really, really sad, but I can’t change it and now it’s over and I’m moving on.”

For me: “week 1. I’m on my period and I’m so sad because I’m reminded this cycle didn’t work{again} and I’ll never have more children. week 2: Oh look at that my body is gearing up to ovulate and release a crappy egg. week 3:My body is currently releasing said crappy egg. week 4: Oh look. There are all of my usual pms symptoms. crappy egg release confirmed” So, essentially, I can’t escape thinking about it. Almost every day of my existence there are physical reminders of my body’s failures and shortcomings. The hormone adjustments, the hope and chance of new life, the inevitable disappointment and heartbreak.

She completely blasted through the walls of silence and opened up a flood of communication that we have never had before{or yet, since the losses}. She got him to answer questions that I’ve never gotten him to talk about. She got him to share feelings and thoughts that I’d never heard him utter. I basically sat there and bawled like a baby because I was so happy that this was happening. It was so great.

The greatest thing that came from our second session was reopening the dialogue that had been lacking between us.

In our third session, she discussed some options for continued healing and growth. The biggest thing that stuck out to me was for Jim and I to #1, start praying together more and #2 start dreaming up a new dream for our family.

For years, our plan has been to not use birth control{we still won’t be using it, just fyi} and just have babies. We were going to drive the 15 passenger van and make it look gooood.

Now we know that plan won’t happen. And Naomi suggested, that perhaps, it wouldn’t be the healthiest thing in the world to hold onto that mutual dream. But, instead, redirect it to a new dream together.

Brilliant, is it not?

So, we’ve been talking a lot. And we’ve been praying a lot. And we’ve been growing a lot.

After our first appointment with Naomi I remember thinking to myself, how will I ever know when it’s time to stop coming? But, even after a month of counseling, I can feel myself healing and growing stronger. We’re being equipped with tools to move on from this together and I know that someday {definitely not yet, but relatively soon} in the future I will be able to say that I don’t need to come anymore.

I’ll wrap this massive post up with this shortish story. This has been the most game changing moment I’ve had yet. And, I’ve had some big ones that I’ve already mentioned in this post. After our first session, Naomi gave me a book to look through. It’s from the Grief Share program. In the back of the book it had a ton of verses that dealt with grief and loss and ultimately God’s goodness.

I was skimming looking for one that would particularly stand out to me. Once I found one, I would check out the chapter it was in for context. For me, I don’t like to just pick and choose a verse to fit into my context. I need the whole passage to see what it’s about and if it actually applies the way I think it does. I had gone through a few when I found this one:

Jeremiah 31:13-14
“For I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”

This verse just happened to be at the very bottom of the page in my Bible. So, I flipped the page over and this verse was waiting for me.

15″Thus says the Lord. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”


But, wait. That’s not all.

In all this time, all of these months, all of the times I have read that verse, I never once read the verse that comes after it. Can you believe that? Well. Look at what comes next.

16″Thus says the Lord. “Refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord…..there is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own border.”

Refrain my voice from weeping, dry my tears. There is HOPE in MY future.
Oh, I am still Rachel. But, now, I am Rachel with hope.

D’un beau affreux. Ugly beautiful.


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  1. Wow Courtney!
    I had no idea about your infertility and your story. I just read your past posts as well.
    You have such an honest and beautiful heart. I can feel it reading your posts. You've been through so much. I admire your honesty and your trust in God.
    Those verses you shared at the end, AMAZING!
    They are exactly what you needed and I love it when God speaks to me like that through scripture.
    I will be praying for you Courtney and I'm so glad you are in couseling along your husband and that you guys are communicating very well. Communication is VERY important especially after going through something hard together. May God bless you and your family and may his perfect plan be fullfilled in your lives.

  2. I found myself weeping with you as I read through this. This is such a brave post, my friend. I will be continuing to pray for you and Jim as you work through things with the couselor. God's biggest blessings to you guys!!

  3. I am praying for you and your sweet family Courtney. Thank you for sharing and I am beyond excited to see God moving about your life in his masterful ways.

    Thank you.

  4. Well, as I'm wiping away MY tears after reading this post, I can't help but praise GOD for being so faithful to us and for leading you to a light that's going to help you through this hard time in your life. I LOVE your outlook, your positivity, and your HOPE. You're going to be such an inspiration to others with that attitude. God is definitely working in your life and I can't wait to see what He has in store for you! Praying! 🙂

  5. Beautifully written post. Thank you so much for sharing. Your story touches and helps so many. I have a friend I work with who recently lost triplets at 18/19 weeks. I have been completely dumbfounded as what to say…feeling as though there is NOTHING to say, and I love the scripture you included. Thank you again. And still praying for you. 🙂

  6. I LOVE that you are sharing so honestly about this whole experience. I'm so glad you found such a wonderful counselor. I had one once that changed my life. Praying for you all!

  7. Oh my word, it took me forever to read this post because I couldn't see through all my tears. I am so, so thankful to God that you found a counselor who is helping you BOTH work through this. What a blessing! I feel like I treat our infertility like it's only affecting ME at times because I'm the only one who will really talk about it. I can ask how he is but he rarely says more than, "ok" or, "not so great". I wish we would see someone…

  8. So sorry for you. I had 3 miscarriages after my first daughter. I have a beautiful 15 & 10 year old now. The only thing that kept me going was something i read from a woman that said had several miscarriages (and her best friend too) but they both went on to have children finally. She said: "If it wasnt for those miscarriages, i wouldnt have the son i have now, and i cannot imagine life without him" I look at my daughter now and think the same thing. Good luck. Love from SITS!

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