When Your Journey Isn’t Popular

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Barbosa, but child loss is not a popular topic. Publishers don’t want to spend their money on ‘that kind’ of book.”

This is a recent response to a book proposal I sent out about a month ago. I was floored reading it. Well, that explains why I could find only a handful of books on this topic when I was desperately grasping for hope in the midst of my deep suffering. Would I survive? Would my kids make it? Where was God in all of this?!

Yes. I know. Child loss isn’t popular.

It’s not mainstream. It’s not sought after. It’s the worst nightmare;

one that will always have me wishing to wake up.

I get it. But, ouch.

It’s a lonely place. Grief, sadness, brokenness, loss… people don’t necessarily embrace these difficult life situations with open arms. Very few are willing to climb into the pit of someone else’s pain.

I understand. I wasn’t as eager either, before losing my son. But, you see somehow, by His grace, God is using our tragedy to help others through their pain. It gets lonely, sometimes, though. Really, really lonely. It gets hard. It stirs up the heartache that is still deep within each one of us.

Sometimes… ok LOTS of times, I wish this wasn’t my life. I wish my son was still here and I could have a different life calling; a prettier mission. As I scroll through Instagram and see the amazing work that so many women are doing for Christ, I get excited! It makes me want to jump on board with what they are doing and shout my enthusiasm through the roof tops. Sometimes, I want to have only the encouraging words and pretty pictures that feature all the good things in my life. I want to be able to post a current family photo with all six of my family members, but the only ones that will have all of us are over three years old. They weren‘t taken on an iPhone 10 or a fancy shmancy camera. This means thst even the best filter or preset won’t help it to “fit my feed.”

Sometimes, my life journey feels so second best. I always knew God was calling me to write, but I never imagined my book including the loss of one of my children. I get it. Sometimes, our story is “too sad“ or “too raw.” I wish it were a different story. One of flower fields and a bed of roses. A story you only need tissues for because you’re laughing so hard.

God has equipped me to write. He’s given me a wonderful gift of it, but I never thought I’d be sharing from the ruins of my agonizing grief. I always knew we were called to serve together as a family, but I never expected every picture, every event, every day of walking out that calling, would be minus one. I knew that, I personally, would minister to many, however, never did I imagine it would be from of a place of such dark tragedy. So when I receive suggestions like can you make it a fiction story? I’m not sure how much everyone realizes how much I wish it were fiction. But, it’s not. It’s very much real life. It’s very much my reality. One that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

None is it is popular; grief, pain, suffering – people run far away from that stuff. Heck, sometimes, I want to run from my own stuff and never come back! But, I cannot. Because, there is a heavy burden on my heart for people, and I feel so hard for others. But, at the end of each day, God so faithfully reminds me that this is what I was made for. He gently whispers that I’m not alone because He is with me. This is exactly what God has for me to do. He fills me with His peace, and, the more I pour out, the more He fills me with Himself.

However, sometimes, I do long for a different story. The one where Christiano was fully healed. The one that causes the reader to so easily gives God the glory. The one with the miracle happy ending. Sometimes, I get frustrated walking out this unpopular journey.

I’m like “Lord, maybe if my story was happier or easier, more people would be eager to publish my book.” It’s in these moments that I’m the most reminded... that this life isnt about me. God doesn’t need me to prove His goodness or defend His glory. He can do that all by Himself. This takes so much pressure off and reminds me that all I’m responsible for is my obedience. I have done what He asked of me. I wrote the book. The rest is up to Him.

Ultimately, I only want to do what God has for me to do. Popular or unpopular, lonely or surrounded, I just want to go where He is leading me. It is imperative to ask the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks His. Lisa Harper once said, ‘The real tragedy is not to have a broken heart, but to have a heart that is unbreakable.’

Jesus would never walk by someone who is hurting or try to avoid a messy situation.

He is a comforter and a counselor, the very lifter of our heads; and I need Him so desperately – every minute of every day.

Whatever your life call is, whatever mission God has given you – don’t grow weary in well doing for a harvest is coming. I remember when I was a stay at home mom, and all I wanted to do was serve people. God gently revealed to me that I was doing exactly that… maybe it wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it should be, but I look at my kids now – and WOW! I think they’re pretty amazing human beings! I’m so grateful that God kept me going in the days that seemed so long and the seasons that felt never ending.

This scripture comes to mind when I think about our journey - past, present and things to come:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”‬‬

Don’t give up! Even when your life journey feels unpopular and lonely. There is a God who will go before you, and He will never leave you. And, someone needs to hear your story.

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