Friday, January 27, 2012


I feel different today.  Not whole by any means, but more optimistic I guess.  I don't feel like writing about my grief.  I want to tell you about Jonah, and a lesson I have learned from him. 

I grew up believing that we are all created in the image of God.  I never really questioned this idea, because it makes sense to me.  I like the idea of praying to a God who is like me, who understands me.  In the book of Genesis 1:26 its says "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."  

Before Jonah was born this phrase was a normal part of my theological vernacular.  It found its way easily into casual and serious religious conversations without too much thought on my part.  But when Jonah was born, and his body was "imperfect," I couldn't help but think more deeply about what it means to be made in God's image or likeness.  If God is perfect how can we be so imperfect?  How can each of us be so different and still be made in His image?  If we are made in His image why are some born crippled and some born disfigured? 

For me the answer came gradually as I watched my sweet Jonah grow.  I realized that his adorable dimples were just like his father's.  So were his funny bug-eyed expressions.  I began to see myself in him. The "imperfections" that had been mine, a small withdrawn chin, the smooth round chest indentation, the ridiculously thin blond hair, were also his.  Over time these features, that I had disliked or I had even disguised in my own body, became the unique and beautiful features I loved in my child.  I could not hate these aspects of myself, because they now belonged to Jonah.  I saw the intense beauty in Jonah's eyes and began to see the beauty in my own.  It became clear to me that Jonah was created in my likeness, in my image, in his father's image.  He was not a carbon copy but our essence was in him. 

A few days after Jonah died we had the difficult privilege of preparing his sweet body for burial.  I was so nervous.  I didn't know what to expect.  I was worried that the experience of seeing his dead body would ruin my living memory of him.  I had not seen him since we had to leave him at the hospital, but oh how I longed to be with him again.  Seeing his little body laying on a seemingly giant bed in the funeral home was almost overwhelming.  Even though it was clear his spirit was gone, it was healing to care for his lifeless body.  After all I cared for his body his whole life.  I knelt beside him and I reached out to touch the beautiful dip in his chest.  I traced the outline of his slanted eyes.  I rested his tiny fingers over mine.  I swept his wispy hair against my cheek.  I stayed beside him and cried.  Finally I turned to Jordan and told him what a perfect boy we made.

It is easy to be critical of our bodies.  We live in a world were "perfection" seems equal to happiness.  But I cannot accept that ideology.   I have experienced the beauty of "imperfection."  Now when I view my own body I think about Jonah and about the God who gave me life.  I am grateful for the "imperfect" reminders I have of my boy, and I can't help but wonder how God, the father of our souls, views us.  What parts of me are reminiscent of Him?  Does His essence shine through me?  Maybe we are all perfect to him, just as Jonah was perfect to me.  As a loving parent I'm sure he thinks that we are beautiful, in all our variations, because he made us, and we are like him. 

John 9:1-3
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.


  1. Thank you for this. I needed to hear it.

    1. So beautiful. Each time I see the picture of Jonah in our home, I love that I am reminded of the sweet boy Jonah is AND I am filled for the love I have for you as I see you in so much of him.

  2. This is wonderful, Julie. After Jonah was born, I thought quite a bit about this idea of beauty and perfection, too. It is sad that we are so blind in this life that we often miss the true beauty of others' souls.

    One day the kids and I were sitting on the sofa and due to the weird angle, a bit of my tummy was showing. Zion, I think it was, commented on how it was so squishy and I said, "yeah, but it's part of the price of having you kids, so it's worth it." I think as we appreciate the functional aspect of our bodies (housing our spirits and serving others), we don't get so caught up in appearances.

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts, Jules. Oh, I saw a beautiful rainbow yesterday and thought of your beautiful boy.

  3. I have spent so many years hating my body. Yes because I see all of the flaws on the outside, but also because only once would my body hold a baby long enough to live. How many tears I have shed because of my inability to create the family I wanted. But, had my body done what I wanted, I never would have adopted Eomer and Aragorn. I have to believe that while a loving Heavenly Father could have healed me, he guided me to another path which let me love and raise these boys for their mother who could not. Some days this gives me some peace in my sorrow. Thank you so much for helping me remember to be grateful in my pain. I love you so much!

  4. Thank you for sharing, Julie. This is exactly what I needed today. You are a blessing to so many.

  5. I read each of your blog posts, and am pierced by each one. This one, in particular, was divine. Thank you!

  6. This is really beautiful. Thank you. One of my friends (Alisa Mitchell Petersen) sent me the link. I think you ought to consider submitting your story to Segullah, a literary journal for LDS women, either as a blog post ( or as a submission for their journal ( I think there are a lot of women who could benefit from hearing this.

  7. Your story is truly heartbreaking I can't imagine going through this. It's definitely made me take a step back and really appreciate my children they are a blessing that sometimes is hard to remember. I've lost four siblings as babies and I don't deal with it nearly as well as you have dealt with your loss you are an amazing example and I hope you continue to heal. That is a sadness I wouldn't wish on anyone.