The water bottle sat on the counter, mocking me. Its bright teal color gleaming beneath the label that I hadn’t even removed yet.
“Just pick it up, peel the label off, fill it with water,” I told myself silently. “It’s just a water bottle!”
But it wasn’t. It was a water bottle that I had purchased for a purpose – for a pregnancy – one that I hoped and prayed for, that I celebrated and announced and dreamt about night and day.
It was my second pregnancy, and I was determined to do better this time – to stay more hydrated, to rest more, to plan more. So, I loaded my eighteen-month-old in the car and marched us both to the water bottle aisle in the store and intentionally selected the perfect one with a happy color and a spout to make drinking water faster and easier.
I set it on the counter when we went home, and there it sat, watching me the next morning. It bore witness to the shock on my face as I felt my miscarriage begin. It stood as a sentinel as my little boy played with Play-Doh while I called my doctor. It sat there as I walked back into the house hours later, tear-stained and drained, and called my husband to tell him the news.
It took me hours to notice the water bottle. It took me hours to have the courage to look at it. – to face the truth that it was empty, just like me.
I left it there, untouched, unused, unwanted.
Mother’s Day came and went.
Spring ended, and summer began.
Weeks turned over and my heart did too, spilled out and grieved for the little one that I would never know.
The days passed, and a friend sent me a gift in the mail. She had been walking along the beach and found a rock nestled in the sand. It was small, ordinary and perfect, formed by waves and wind into the shape of a heart. “I saw this and thought of you,” she wrote in her card. “I thought of how God sees us and loves us and gives us little reminders of it in the midst of suffering.”
I cradled that smooth heart of the earth in my fingers, marveling at the way the Creator continued to create. I wondered what forms this rock had taken. Was it a piece of a larger whole, a chip off of some ancient boulder nestled in the ocean? Was it sediment that had washed up onto the shore, a collection of sand and shells and life and death that had banded together to convey love? Had this rock been tossed aside, thrown ashore, broken and reformed until it landed here in the palm of my hand, the place that should be holding a baby?
My friend’s words echoed in my heart, the simple truth that God gives us reminders of His love. That was what this little rock was. The Maker of my heart had made me another, had sent the waves and the wind and the hands of my friend to deliver it to me, to remind me that I am seen and loved and known.
I looked at that rock, and the invitation of heaven rang out within me. Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest… (Matthew 11:28)
So I did. With that heart stone in my hands, I brought my sorrow before God. I gave him my tears and the dreams that had slipped through my fingers, that had fallen like the sand that had formed that heart in my hands.
“I am empty,” I cried.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,” He replied. (Romans 15:13)
“My heart is broken,” I told him.
“I heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,” He whispered gently to me. (Psalm 147:3)
I breathed deeply of his comfort, amazed at the lengths He would go to provide it. The God who moves the waves and forms the rocks had shaped one just for me. He had used the tumult of the tides and the grit of the sand to create something beautiful to bring me comfort.
Nothing in creation was beyond the realm of His hands, nothing in all of creation was beyond transformation and restoration.
He had conquered the power of death before, and now, here He was doing it again in my heart with this little heart He had formed just for me.
I looked at the water bottle, the long-neglected embodiment of emptiness sitting on my counter. I picked it up finally, and with finality and in its place, I set the rock.
Where emptiness once stood, solid love would now abide.
I knew His comfort in a new way that day. That season was one of desolation, yet God came and planted hope in the soil of despair.
He used those months of emptiness to reshape me. Just as my tiny rock from across the sea had been formed into something beautiful by wind and waves and sediment and sand, I was formed into something new too – something more tender, more empathetic, more compassionate, and dependent on the grace and comfort of God.
I have had two more children since that day. I have been filled with new life and held those babies in my arms. I’ll never forget the way that emptiness felt though, and I’ll never forget the one who remedied it…
The God who filled me with himself, with his hope and joy – the one who whispered into my grief, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Isaiah 43:19)