Have you ever gone silent?

Not while giving the silent treatment, not suddenly mute, not quiet in thought . . . Silent as in that inner prayerful voice accustomed to a constant dialogue with God has shocked you and fallen still. It feels lost . . . the words that usually knit themselves together so easily, smothered. That voice that speaks your soul, that in other times of trial has bolstered you up and held you together, has left you in silence

When I was 26-weeks pregnant with what would be our first children, twins, I went into pre-term labor. I was put into an ambulance directly from my doctor’s office and rushed to the nearest large hospital. My husband and I were thrust into a stream of medical professionals working to try and slow the labor, while NICU doctors stood over us explaining what it would mean to deliver so prematurely.

A wave of overwhelming grim statistics crashed over us. 

Later that night, medical interventions were able to control the labor but came with stern warnings that it was just a temporary fix. We were moved into a shared room with another couple experiencing the same preterm labor and even the same number of weeks pregnant. Bonding came easily while living out such similar, intense circumstances.

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And then, the fears and the statistics and the warnings that had blanketed over our room, now weighed down so heavily the air was hard to find. This sweet couple who had been beside us, heavy with the same prayers for their little one, bore the worst . . . they delivered, and their precious baby was lost. 

And I guess that’s about when it happened.

Leading up to this point, the road to motherhood had already been marked with potholes and obstacles, but still my heart felt loud and full with ever-present prayer and chatter to God.

Before this pregnancy, I’d had the joy of celebrating three other pregnancies, and sadly each followed with the heartache of miscarriage. When we found out we were expecting again, and this time with twins, there was joy but in truth also great trepidation. As the pregnancy progressed, no matter what I may be doing or saying outwardly, my heart and soul were running a continuous ticker of thoughts, pleas, and prayer over these babies. 

Until they weren’t.

Until it just all became silent.

Until the fears and the heartache from our own losses met the grief and terror rained down by the loss of our roommates’ little one, leaving that inner voice squashed, exhausted, and numb. 

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During this time, as our network of family and friends became aware of our situation, a wonderful thing began to happen.

Our village started to show up and speak up. 

People I didn’t even realize were in my villageco-workers I barely knew previously, people from my hometown I’d lost contact with, voices across the world that were connected to us solely through a church prayer chain, a nurse at the hospital who for whatever reason scooped us up right under her wing, and of course dear family and friends. Emails, letters, cards, messages, small gestures or little gifts, and comforting visits.

No matter the form, the village voices began to fill in the space where my silence lay. 

I remember receiving a card with a tiny infant sock tucked inside it. My friend shared how she used to keep this little sock inside her purse and pocket during the time in her life when she was going through the trials of adoption. It was a tangible and visible reminder to hang on and keep going because the goal is worth it.

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Another woman who was just an acquaintance at the time, now a friend, had been through a similar experience except with triplets. She took the time to write an understanding and knowing note. Along with it, she included a box of lip gloss. She remembered the feelings of losing herself, becoming simply a baby growing vessel that seemed to be defective. She knew moms needed to be seen and cared for, too. The lip gloss was a sweet symbol of that.   

And I distinctly remember one phrase that appeared in the notes repeatedly.  “Holding you up in prayer.” It may be simple, maybe you even think it cliché, but each time my eyes rolled over those words, it was healing to my own lost, prayerful voice. I’d gone numb with fear, and my soul quieted of its regular dialogue. But this village, they were praying the words I felt inept to string together.

I truly did feel held up and comforted that even if I was silent, other voices were filling in.

We came out of that trial. Our babies were born healthy and thriving. But I will never forget what my village of voices meant to me. I’ve learned how important it is to show up for others. When those around us are struggling, grieving, fearful, exhausted, overwhelmed, facing illness themselves or of a loved one, whatever their battle may be . . . be their village.

It doesn’t take much It doesn’t have to feel so deep or difficult or complicated that you talk yourself out of it.  The smallest of gestures, the shortest of notes, can make a lasting healing impact. If you don’t know them very well but know they are struggling, maybe you even personally connect to their battlereach out. Think you know them so well you don’t need to make a special effort, reach out. Speak up, show up, be a voice in their village. Your voice just may fill their silence. 

Emily Roussell

Emily Roussell is author of the tender children's book for new babies and moms, ‘Rock You Tonight.’ It reads like a lullaby, while telling the story of a tired and distracted mom who slows to fully embrace the wonder of and love for her baby. This book was penned when her first children, twins, were just months old. Life was exhausting, upside down, and …blissful. Emily and her husband gratefully enjoy a happy circus of life with four children. You can find her at Facebook.com/RockYouTonight