Inciting Incident: My Turn

If you’ve been around here for long you’ve heard this one: My story of Claire and Ellery. Sometimes I worry that I bring it up too often, that I use it as the one catch-all example. But I guess that can’t be helped. It is, after all, an inciting incident. It changed so much about me that I literally mark my life as before and after that experience.

You can read about it on the Claire’s Story page, but the short version is that my second pregnancy went wrong and one of our twin daughters – Ellery – died before she really had a chance to take a deep breath on her own. She was just too small. Claire was luckier and spent 4 months in the NICU before we finally brought her home, all six pounds and too many tubes of her.

So I won’t tell that story again, but I’ll remind you of how much that story changed the quality of this one, the one I’m living now.

First, I was awakened to the fact that loving God does not mean everything works out perfectly in your life. Accidents still happen, sin still wins now and then, our bodies aren’t perfect. The perfect world God created is spoiled in many ways now. We’re happy to believe it will one day be restored and we fight for that reality in little ways all the time, but it isn’t totally fixed yet. Theologically I would have told you that I knew all of that. But without personal experience, it was still a little too easy for me to feel insulated from the pain and sorrow of the world because it hadn’t specifically touched me. Experience really does change things.

Second, I became aware of the fact that my world was way too small. In my medical crisis I was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of people who had dedicated years of their lives to something – a skill, a knowledge, or a profession – and I was the direct benefactor. The help I needed couldn’t even be found in my own town; we had go away. I had never imagined that going away would ever be the right answer. Now I know better and I’m dedicating myself to being someone else’s expert when they need it. This is how we fix the world.

And finally, I learned that my way of experiencing God was limited at best. I had known God in meetings – a specific kind with loud music and a certain kind of preaching. I thought that was the only way I could experience him. I thought I needed to sing or shout or obey or be good or just generally get excited. I didn’t know that I could experience him when I didn’t have the strength to whisper a prayer or open my Bible. I didn’t know how near he would be when I sat alone in a hospital room. And that’s a very good thing to know.

The age-old advice to soon-to-be parents is, “You’re life will never be the same!” I’ve found that to be very, very true.


This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of six creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can visit the “Share Your Story” section of IncitingIncidents.Org to check out posts from other synchroblog contributors, or visit the sites of the authors: Sarah Cunningham, Jeff Goins, Dave Hickman, Blaine Hogan, Tracee Persiko, Stephanie Smith, Mandy Thompson and David Wenzel. In addition, you can hear more about the project in this NPR-style interview series by Moody Radio.

Also, if you pick up the book in the first two weeks, Moody will give you a bundle of free resources, including two full-length e-books. The book is available immediately at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Christian Book.