Shaney Irene

On Faith, Life, and Being the Church

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When It’s Not Just Their Story

I need to write something. But, to put it simply, I don’t know what to write. This is already the fourth time I’ve tried to start this blog post. I feel like I should have some goal, some purpose to writing this post. But I’m not sure I do. Maybe someone will find something to connect to here, but I’m mostly writing this for myself.

Some people have stories that are full of pain. God redeems these stories, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are painful. My friend Beka lived, and in some ways is still living, one of these painful stories. Today, she did an incredibly brave thing and wrote about her struggles on her blog. I’m so proud of her, and I’m honored to be able to stand by her side as she shares her story, so that others may be helped.

My story is not like Beka’s story. My story has its own shortcomings, but it’s simply not as painful. But reading Beka’s post today, I experienced several different emotions at once.

On one hand, I was (and am) incredibly proud of her. I am thankful that she is coming to a place where she can talk openly about her struggles. I praise God for bringing her to this point. But the post also made me feel things that are difficult to feel. You see, I consider Beka a sister. So when she was talking about her child–to me, she wasn’t just talking about her child.

To me, she was talking about my niece. 

Today, I learned the name of the niece I would never get to meet this side of heaven.


Just hearing her name brought feelings of grief. I’m not talking about grief for Beka’s sake (though I’ve certainly felt that too), but grief for my own loss.  This is not the first time I’ve felt these feelings. The first time that Beka told me that she had been pregnant, and lost the baby, I felt these same feelings. But then, the baby was more of a concept. I didn’t even know the gender. Now, I know the gender, and I have a name.

A part of me feels selfish for feeling this way. After all, isn’t this Beka’s story, not mine?

Here’s the thing, though: nobody lives out their story in isolation. One of the amazing things about the church is that it’s quite impossible to ever really live in isolation. Truly living out God’s commands to live in harmony should result in our stories affecting one another. Not just theoretically, but in real, tangible ways.

Maybe, when God said to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, He didn’t mean in a symbolic, “I am sad because you are sad,” kind of way. Maybe God meant for us to love each other so much that when we see each other in pain, we can’t help but feel pain as well. Perhaps our stories won’t intersect as clearly as my story is intersecting with Beka’s, but I think the concept still makes sense.

Is it strange to feel grief over someone you never knew?

If you are reading this, I don’t know what you are supposed to get out of this. All I can say is this: I challenge you to live in such a way that really embraces living our stories together. It’s tough, and it means being vulnerable. But even through my grief, I can see the beauty in living my life in such a way that I am affected by my friend’s stories. Many times, we limit our ability to have these connections because we’re afraid. We don’t know what to say, or how to best support our friends going through difficult times. Please don’t let those fears hold you back from loving with everything you have.

Dear Hope, I look forward to meeting you one day.