[Editor’s Note: In recognition of the 200th birthday of the Christian Observer, I was interviewed on September 16, 2013 on the Wiley Drake Show (http://thewileydrakeshow.com/), an Internet radio program. Interviewees and listeners join a conference call with the Rev. Wiley Drake, and can ask questions of the interviewees and join in intercessory prayer. Another of the September 16 interviewees, Nona L. Ellington of Eagles Restoration Ministries (http://www.eaglesrestoration.com), asked that information about her ministry to the hurting and wounded, and especially to those affected by abortion and to those who have been or are being abused and/or are going through or have been through a divorce, be published by the Christian Observer.]
I am sharing this for all women who, like me, have never had the opportunity to hold their own baby in their arms.
Having empty arms can be a result of infertility (like me), still born babies, babies that have been lost due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and many other reasons.
First, I will share a little of my own experience:
As a result of an abortion at age 15 I have suffered 5 miscarriages, with 3 of them being tubal pregnancies requiring emergency surgery, and also very near death experiences for me. Therefore, I am now unable to have any children of my own. Although the loss of my children happened several years ago, there is still much pain there that the Lord continues to heal.
Empty Arms Syndrome is basically a void, a hole or an emptiness that gnaws at your heart after the loss of a child. The empty arms of a woman desires a child almost more than life itself.
There are several ways that Jesus has used to help me with experiencing “empty arms syndrome”, though even to this day going to baby showers, walking through the baby department in the stores and going to church on Mother’s Day is very difficult to do.
1. When I completed going through an abortion recovery group* and Bible study, I felt led to give back by helping others receive healing also. As a group leader in the recovery group, the Lord brings a deeper healing for myself each time I go through with others. At the end of the 12 week recovery group is a memorial service, where we honor the babies that have been lost to abortion. I decided during one of our memorial services to also honor the babies that I had lost to miscarriage as a result of the abortion. It was so very healing for me to be able to give my babies their names and hold a handmade doll in my arms and lay them at the foot of the cross. At the memorial service we allow the women to choose a handmade doll to represent each baby lost to abortion. Having something in your arms to lay down at the cross is such healing to our hearts, it is hard to put into words. This experience brings much honor and closure to the loss of those babies that most people don’t even acknowledge ever existed. Just because they were never brought into this world doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist. When a baby is living inside a mother’s womb, it has as much life as a baby living outside a mother’s womb.
2. One of my friends who had just had a baby was letting me hold it when she said “getting your baby fix, huh Nona?”. This was quite a revelation for me because I didn’t realize that was what I was doing, but it was. It it hard to describe the awesome feeling of being able to hold an infant in your arms when you have never had the opportunity to have your own. It is very comforting and peaceful. So, obviously holding and caring for, or even babysitting other people’s babies is a good way to fill in the empty arms. It does help a lot, although I do remember one of the first times I held a baby years after my abortion, I started crying. It was just automatic, I didn’t expect it at all. I had several opportunities to babysit a loved one’s babies, and it was such a blessing.
3. Another way the Lord has used babies for further healing of my own heart is He led me one year to volunteer in the nursery at church during a revival we were having. I think I may have done that for a year. This work was so very rewarding for me in so many ways. I actually experienced a miscarriage during the time that I was serving in the nursery. You would be amazed how much strength the Lord can give you to go through something like that. I even was required to work in a baby department at one of my jobs, which was very strangely comforting for me at the time.
4. I have also always been a big fan of stuffed animals. One of the books that I have read on “empty arms” says that it is good to have a teddy bear or some other stuffed animal in your home to hold onto when your arms are aching for holding a baby. It sounds silly, but it really works.
5. One of the more recent ways that the Lord is helping
overcome my childlessness is He has blessed me and
my roommate with a dog to raise together. I have always
been a cat person in the past, so this is the first time I have ever raised a dog. Huge difference, since cats pretty much take care of themselves. Raising a dog, to me, is just like raising a child in so many ways. It is a very huge responsibility. Dogs love you unconditionally, just like children do. Now I understand why people call their dogs their babies, because they are. Some people even put clothes on them. I understand now, it’s just amazing,
how God has brought so much healing to my heart through this loving creature He created. I always wanted a son, now I have a canine one.
* To find an abortion recovery group in your area, call the National Helpline for Abortion Recovery at 1-866-482-LIFE or visit their website at http://www.nationalhelpline.org/
6. Here are some great books that I have read on “empty arms”:
“I’ll Hold You In Heaven” by Jack Hayford “Empty Arms” by Pam Vredevelt
7. This is a link where you can read a precious chapter in the Bible that the Lord wrote specifically for women who are childless:Message for Hurting Women
8. I also had the opportunity to have a nameplate placed on the wall of names at the National Memorial for the Unbornhttp://www.memorialfortheunborn.org) in memory of my child who was aborted, as well as having a brick placed in the prayer garden there for my babies who were lost to miscarriage.
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