How SIDS Changed My Life

Writen by:  Martie Spurgeon

I want to take a blog post and introduce myself.  It is significant to me that my ministry here with SIDS America is officially beginning this week.  This is the week my life changed forever, fifteen years ago - today.  God has been preparing me for this ministry long before that sad Saturday morning. 

It was during a teen mission’s trip that my youth pastor was giving a challenge.  I remember the challenge distinctly.  He was talking about allowing the events that come into our lives to mold us into a person whose life glorifies God.  He then went on to illustrate his point by telling the stories of two women, unknown to each other, but who both suffered great loss.  Each of these ladies lost one of their children to death.  As the story went, car accidents had caused each of these mothers  to suffer heartache and loss.  He told of how the one mother grew horribly bitter.  Her grief turned to anger and anger to bitterness.  Ultimately, she blamed God for the heartache she had suffered from her daughter’s death.  Her life was completely ruined because of the tragic accident.

I listened as the story of the other mother was told.  She too, had suffered great loss and pain.  Her heart was broken, sad, and she too did not understand why her little girl had to die.  However, she determined that God would get the glory in her tragedy.  Through her mindset, and by taking the promises of God by faith, God opened up to her doors of opportunity to share Christ with grieving mothers just like herself.  My youth pastor told us that through this woman’s tragedy God had revealed to her the very purpose for her life.  At the end of her life she was able to look back and see all the people God had allowed her to minister to during their times of loss. 

As the challenge came to a close, a comparison of the two women was made.  One had allowed the heartaches of this life to ruin her life, while the another woman’s life had actually been shaped and her life work established by the same type of tragedy.  My youth pastor got quiet and simply asked us this question, “Are you going to allow the trials of this life to shape you or ruin you?”

That day, as a seventh grade teenager, I told God that I would allow Him to mold me into His image, and that I would serve Him no matter what trials came into my life.  I was thirteen years old when I prayed that prayer to God.

More than a decade later, on Saturday, December 13, 1997, I went in to get my daughter up for the day.  Christmas plans were well underway.  The night before, my husband and I had taken the girls’ pictures by the Christmas tree.  I would use one of the pictures in our family Christmas letter that I was going to be sending out that next week.  On that Saturday, we would have the final dress rehearsal for the church Christmas play and the next day would be full of activities and church responsibilities.  (My husband was on the Pastoral staff of our church – so Sunday’s were always a busy day.)   Our week was planned out, and it was busy. 

Our day was planned out and busy also; but we had set aside the morning to spend together as a family - my husband, myself and our three little girls.  We would eat breakfast together and enjoy a laid back morning before we got ready for the dress rehearsal that afternoon.  That was the plan, but when I walked into the nursery that morning not only did my plans for that day change, my life changed forever.

Finding your baby unresponsive in her crib has a way of causing life to suddenly be thrown into slow motion and fast motion - all at the same time.  My body was reacting and my thoughts were racing all while I felt my feet were in quick sand.  My husband was doing CPR when I remembered (only for a quick moment in my thoughts) the challenge given by my youth pastor thirteen years earlier.  As my shaking fingers dialed 911 my heart called out to God, “I will use this for you.  Please God help me through this!”

That was fifteen years ago.  Everything changed that day.  My world shattered in a million pieces and the pain in my heart was heavier than I felt I could bear.  I felt vulnerable and many times God felt far away.  I questioned Him and everything I believed.  Everyone else’s life went on; but I was left unable some morning to even will myself out of bed.  Relationships with friends that were once comfortable and fun were now found to be awkward.  Nothing felt normal; and it all happened in an instant.

My marriage suffered greatly because of the grief my husband and I experienced.  It hurt too much to talk because hurting people hurt people; and we did our fair share of hurting each other.  My husband and I became strangers to one another.  SIDS almost cost me my marriage. 

Ally’s death changed my life – forever.

God never abandoned me through the heartache, though.  Through the tears and the questions God did not distance Himself from me.  When I questioned everything I believed, He gently offered answers.  When I refrained from prayer, He lovingly showed me through everyday situations that He still loved me.  When I despaired of even life itself, because of the pain that seemed to go with me everywhere, He assured me gently that He had a plan for my life and that SIDS did not destroy His that plan.

It has been fifteen years since that day, since then God has healed my heart and restored my relationship with my husband.  He has led me to SIDS America to minister to others whose lives have been affected by SIDS.  I know God has called me here to minister to others who are going through the same dark waters I went through that December morning.  Isaiah 61: 1-4 are the verse I have claimed for this new ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all the mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

That is my story, but it is more that my story – it is God’s story for me.  I am here to come along side those grieving for their babies.  My presence will not take away the pain (I wish it could); but I know the One who can heal the broken heart and establish a purpose through tragedy.

I trust God will use me to ministry His love to the hurting, and point other to the gentle arms of the Good Shepherd.  My prayer is that Christ will be magnified through my life and my ministry here.

If there is any way I can help you, please call SIDS America. 

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