Thursday, July 17, 2008

the brown shirt club

While we were in Atlanta, our matching brown shirts generated a lot of attention in the mass of 19,000 women we found ourselves a part of. Wherever we went people came up to us, sometimes with tears in their eyes, to express their love, sympathy, or prayers. I had one sweet lady come up to me and ask where she could buy one of our shirts, and I had to tell her these were it, all special ordered with no extras. I felt kind of like we were in a club--one that was painfully exclusive, with a membership qualifier no one would willingly pay.

As I walked around in Atlanta I had conflicting emotions "duking" it out inside me. Part of me felt more understood, more of a sense of belonging than I have in a long, long time. But part of me still felt isolated, immersed in a sea of women out of whom only a very, very few who would ever be able to say, "I've walked that path too. I know what it's like."

I think being alone is one of the most excruciating places to be emotionally. July 25 of last year, the day I received the news my baby was not going to live, was saturated with an intense sense of loneliness. It was as if in a matter of seconds, I had suddenly become different. Now I was in a place of quasi-isolation, surrounded by those who loved me, yet unable to share a common link. That's why it was one of God's greatest gifts to me to connect me, one by one, with other people who were walking this path right there with me. I will never fully understand what that connection meant to me, how it helped me to cope with the pain and heal in the aftermath.

Yet even as I was thinking about this idea of a grieving mother's club, it dawned on me that just about everyone is in a club of some sort--one that makes them feel separate, alone in their hurt, and unable to be understood by the vast majority of people around them. It could be cancer, addiction, abuse, illness, depression, obesity, divorce, or any number of other types of pain, but regardless of what it is, it is there, threatening to tear you down, and making you feel isolated from the people who are right there beside you. However you have become a member of your particular club, once you are there, you are unable to withdraw membership. Even if you are able to break free from the painful hold it has over you, you will never go back to that place you were before you entered into it. The scar will always remain.

I think there are a lot of people out there walking around with the stigma of their club ingrained in their heads like an unwanted tattoo. It is so far removed from the place they wish they were that they don't want to have anything to do with the others who are in the same boat with them. I understand that. I understand not wanting to have to talk to others who have lost babies because it is so far from the reality I wanted in my life. I understand not wanting to expose the most vulnerable part of your hurt. But I also understand the healing that comes with connecting with others who can relate better than anyone else with the hurt that is a reality in your life. I read something the other day that nailed it on the head. It is from I Peter 5:9-10. It says, "Resist the devil, being steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."

What a beautiful encouragement! When the devil tries to tear you down using your particular club as a weapon against you, this verse tells us to remember that there are others who can relate! Don't let Satan feed you a lie that you are alone, deserted, without anyone who understands or cares. And then the verse goes on to say that God can use your suffering, no matter what it stems from, to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you!! What a promise! Any pain we go through, any club we unwillingly become a part of, God can use in our lives. He can bring something good from the pain. This is a promise I have witnessed in my own life. It is one that I know is true. I never wanted to be a member of the brown shirt club, but look where it has brought me. It is part of who I am, and it is something I pray God will continue to use as long as I live.


petebon5 said...

boy i tell you what! GOD is shining in the heart of hearts today. both you and Kristy (bolte) have made fly outa my chair and realize the light @ the end of tunnel of darkness my friend. and for that i thank almighty GOD! thank you for posting this!

Karen said...

I've said it before, I hate being part of the "Brown Shirts Club" but I am so blessed because the path the Lord has taken me has an intersection where our paths all met and continue along side each other with the Lord's direction. I thank God for you and all of our Brown Shirts.

Sonja said...

Thank you so much for sharing the scripture with me. I often find it difficult to understand the word in a personal way. I am more a person who learns from listening than reading. You have said it perfectly though.... we are not alone. Someone has always been in a similar place. It is AWESOME to know that we have a God who can take ANYTHING bad and change it for good.

Emily said...

Oh Amen sister. :)

Laurie said...


As I sit here and read your post, I am reminded of all the hardship times in my life and how God has made it all work together for good and is still using it. I look up at your "brown shirt" picture I printed out and hung above my computer, and I see 8 girls with the most beautiful smiles and hope all over your faces. And I had the honor to pray with all of you through the darkest of moments and watch each of you come out into His light. I continue to pray for each one of you as you move forward into Gods plan and you all are part of my extended family forever. I love you all.

Laurie in Ca.

Kathryn said...

Angie, I mostly lurk but enjoy what you share and this post was especially beautiful.. I recently joined my own "club" having a baby with a severe congenital heart defect (but fortunately one that is survivable with surgeries). I struggle with this exact same thing.. THank you for putting it so nicely into words. I love the scripture you shared as well!

Jill said...


I'm so touched by your post today. The road you have traveled is different than mine - yet in many ways the same. God uses our trials to show us how alike we are - to have compassion for those who are hurting in any circumstance and to offer His love. Your meeting the other women with the same hurt - showed others what Christ came to do - LOVE those like and unlike us deeply!

I cherish your heart and continue to lift you before our Father!

Many blessings,

Kirsten said...

Beautiful, Angie!!! Your heart is so beautiful. Your words touch my heart today.


Anonymous said...

There is a fellowship of suffering that leads straight to the heart of God. My shirt is a different color than yours, but I thank you for letting me read of your journey.

Beav's Wife said...

I just love reading your blog-I always leave with a reminder to be grateful and to make sure I'm keeping focused on what matters-thank you so much for that.

Is it just me or does Adrienne look like her daddy??? I swear, that picture on the right made me think of him right away! Obviously, I've only seen pics that you've posted on here but she just seems like she looks like you guys... :0)

Tonia said...

I just wanted to share that I had the wonderful opportunity to see Beth Moore this last weekend in Minneapolis, MN and she mentioned your "brown shirt club"! I couldn't believe it. I thought to myself "I know their story!! I've read of their pain but also their joy." She shared that there was the group of you that came to Atlanta and she shared how she was able to pray with all of you that satan would regret every messin' with you ladies! It was very special and I just thought I would pass it along that Beth talked of you girls all the way in MPLS!! God is using you and your lives all over the nation!! Praise God who is our strength and our Rock! God Bless. Tonia

Anonymous said...

Please check out the Coldwater Creek Sale items. There is a beautiful skirt with Poppies all around the bottom! It is on sale!

Yvette said...


I get tears in my eyes EVERY time I see the back of our "brown shirts"! This is certainly NOT the club I would have signed up for but I am so thankful the Lord saw it fit for me to find each of you girls along the way and that we were able to form a "club" because it has made this journey so much easier. I will forever be grateful for your friendship. Thinking of you tonight sweet friend!

Love and miss you,

Laurie said...

Hi Angie,

It's just me stopping by tonight to let you know I am thinking about you and I love you. It has been such a blessing to travel the "brown shirt" road with you girls individually over the first months and watch as the Lord pulled you all together in His love during such painful times. I am like a proud mother out here witnessing the goodness of the Lord with all of my girls. The beauty for ashes that is taking place these past few months is just breath taking. Adrienne, new babies, healing, my heart sings for you all. I love how He keeps His promise to take what harms us and turns it around for good. He has done it in my life and I know how special it feels to be blessed by Him. Praying for you and Conor to be enjoying this time with the girls, all 3 of them. I am so thankful for you all.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

amanda said...

I met Chrissy on myspace not long after I landed on your blog while I was searching for some things to help my bleoved sister and precious nephew. There is much more to the story, but the only thing of importance is how God intervenes and takes care of us.

On your blog and other's I have visited I have never and have never wanted to share the unfortunate/fortunate "club" I'm a member of because I know I'm not a member of your club, but another one.

Thanks for your post that even though we are in different clubs we still are not alone, and if I may I would like to share this verse that has brought me much comfort in my club, and I hope it gives you the same.

I think God tells us in these verses why we belong to these "clubs."

2 Corinthians 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Acha'ia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Marijke said...

Good for people to know.