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Fisher of Men

Wholehearted Love Amid Unbearable Pain

Wholehearted Love Amid Unbearable Pain

“Today, the only things that seem endless are my problems and my pain. Yet I know You are here—tenderly present—ready to help me get safely through this day. Your loving Presence is my lifeline that keeps me from giving up in despair.”

– Jesus Listens, February 6th

My hair was slicked back and wet after my nightly shower. I was cozy in my pink heart bed shorts and pink T-shirt. I pulled out my two books. One of them I’d been writing in almost every night for a year, recording a brief description of what I had done that day. The other was a fresh, blue-flowered journal.

I’d just finished another like it, writing a poem to my twin baby boys every night since I found out they had died inside of me. Routine was what had been getting me through the last several months of pain. But our usual schedule—the only thing holding me together—had been disrupted recently.

Hidden emotions

On this night, the emotions I’d been hiding from myself for months, maybe even years, started to well up inside of me. I burst into one of those intense, sobbing ugly cries. Caleb reacted immediately. Sitting down next to me on the bed, he scooted close and held me tight. I rested my head on him, and tears started streaming onto his shoulder.

“What’s going on?” he asked me gently. “Why are you so sad?”

“I want to shut off my heart for good. It hurts too much,” I said through sobs. As I reflected, I realized I’d been shutting down for a while now. Putting up walls instead of fences to certain people. Going on autopilot.


“I’ve been going into ‘robot bitter shrew mode,’” I said. It was a revelation. It wasn’t something I’m proud of, but it helped me survive the trauma of losing my long-prayed-for babies.

I understand that putting on a mask was important for me during that time, and that it still can be important for getting from one day to the next. Sometimes we have to hide for a season. Sometimes we need to find the healthiest way we can to cope with trauma and pain. But I don’t want that to be my whole story. I was shutting off loving and being loved. I was shutting off seeing and being seen. I was shutting off being known and getting to know others.


Caleb let me cry as he asked questions for over an hour. He was grieving as well. I had seen the tears flow down his face the day we found out the sad news. He was grieving in his own way, and also constantly trying to check in on me. He was so sweet and comforting, but he also reminded me of our wedding vows. “We told each other ‘I will love you in the good times and the bad,’” he said. “Did you mean that, Stefanie?”

I put myself in his shoes. I wanted him to love me wholeheartedly. I wanted that more than almost anything in the world. How was it fair that I wanted that so badly from him but was slowly shutting off my heart? Not only would I not be able to receive love from him, but I wouldn’t be able to give it either.

Someone to blame

When something very difficult happens, many of us look for someone to blame. After the loss of the twins, I found myself at first asking, Did I fail? Did God fail? As I’ve wrestled with these questions, I’ve realized that neither of us did.

What I choose to believe right now is extremely important, and it’s going to have a big impact on the rest of my life. I’ve had to forgive God for the anger I held against Him. I’ve had to forgive myself for the anger I’ve held against me. But I didn’t fail. I need to choose the truth even when my feelings are saying something different. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent the loss of my babies. By recognizing this, I have the choice of moving forward in the truth and in healing.

Jesus’ arms

If you feel this way about any area of your life, I hope and pray you will run to Jesus’ arms and to God’s Word. If you feel stuck, if your heart feels broken, if you sense others moving on while you’re running in place, God has redemption waiting for you, even if you can’t see it yet.

He is ministering to me. He is reminding me of my worth. He is teaching me to forgive myself, to be kind in how I think about my body, and to believe the truth that even though I may face hardship and trouble in this world, He has overcome the world (see John 16:33 NIV). His plans for me are still good. He hasn’t forgotten about me.

In this difficult time, I made the decision to love Jesus and Caleb wholeheartedly even though it’s painful. I slept in peace that night, feeling closer to God and Caleb than I had in such a long time. Caleb reminded me that I don’t have to get over my babies’ death immediately—I probably never will be completely over it. But allowing him and Jesus to enter into my pain, and being real and vulnerable with them, is worth it.

Adapted from Wholehearted Love: Overcome the Barriers That Hold You Back in Your Relationship with God and Others—and Delight in Feeling Safe, Seen, and Loved by Stefanie and Caleb Rouse, releasing in April 2024.

About The Author

Stefanie and Caleb Rouse are dynamic relationship mentors and digital creators passionately guiding singles and couples toward fulfilling and resilient relationships anchored in faith. With their master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis in theology (Stefanie) and in education (Caleb), they offer tailored courses, mentorship, and guidance. These are all rooted in prayer, backed by training in psychology and biblical counseling, encouragement from Christ, and practical strategies for love that lasts. Speaking to an engaged audience of over half a million followers across social media platforms, Stefanie and Caleb provide daily insights into the transformative power of faith across all relationship stages. Their vision is a world where we learn to love each other out of God’s abundance of love, leading to impactful and joyous relationships.

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