About our Guest
Maina Mwaura is an author, writer, speaker, and freelance journalist who interviews key leaders and speakers across the country. Maina is a graduate from Liberty University and he also has his Masters of Divinity from New Orleans Theological Seminary.
Maina also helps spearhead the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board initiatives to mobilize African American studies on missions.
Currently, Maina lives in Kennessaw, Ga., with his wife Tiffany and daughter Zion. In addition to all this, Maina and his wife Tiffany have walked through a miscarriage themselves and learned a lot along the way.
Interview with Maina
When I look at the people you’ve interviewed, I’m amazed. How in the world did you get to interview Jimmy Carter?
I would tell anyone out there who’s wondering how life can turn around that it can. Two years ago, I just fell into this. I was involved in the local church and all the sudden I got this call asking if I wanted to go write for Christianity Today.
I’d never done that before, but I have a great wife and she is the one who told me I could do it. I thought I’d do it for a certain period of time and then go back to staff at a local church. Now, two years and 160 interviews later, I’d say that if you’re going to make a career change make sure your spouse is on board.
Tell us about your family.
We have one daughter, Zion. She’s five, but going on 13. Tiffany and I have been married 13 years and it’s been fun. But there have also been difficult moments. She works in social work ministry and she loves it. But we complement each other and have wanted to make it fun.
What do you guys do to keep it fun?
This two-year period has been interesting because you go from knowing what your salary is going to be to the uncertainty of the freelance world. So I’m talking to the couples out there that think they can’t afford to have fun— you can.
We decided to just venture out and do free stuff. We also have fun by being honest with one another. We don’t look at honesty as fun, but when we are honest and open with one another it leads to freedom. And that leads to things being fun.
What are some free fun things people can do?
Look around you locally. Monday nights in Kennesaw there are food trucks and we try to find the least expensive one. Go online and look at what things are going on in your city. For example, the aquarium in Atlanta was offering a free day for your birthday.
We used bicycles and there are free parks of course. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on fun, but there are fun things you can do that are free.
When times are serious, how do you keep the fun going?
I go back to honesty. One of the things that we do is take out a sheet of paper and write down our concerns.
We talk through the list and the things we could do to help offset where things are going to end financially. You can ask yourself: is there any pride at all in the situations?
How do you stay connected with your spouse during a tough season?
I know how difficult it can be to be in a tough season, because you have to be vulnerable and no one likes to be vulnerable.
Eight years ago, I was speaking at a camp and we were preparing for our first-born son. I was away for the week and got the phone call on a Tuesday afternoon. My wife said she was going to the doctor and they sent her to the hospital to get things checked.
An hour later, I got a phone call from a friend who was with my wife. She told me I needed to come home. I got to the hospital and the doctor told us that we weren’t going to get to have this child. With a stillbirth, you still go through a regular birth. But my wife was saying, “We’re going to get through this.” And that night we delivered a little boy that we weren’t going to take home with us.
It was heart wrenching. But if you can communicate the things that you may not think your spouse needs to hear, it will go a long way. We were leaving the hospital and I looked at Tiffany and said, “I’m angry.” If you can talk it out, it will really help with the problems in the long term. We went through the memorial service and thought, “we do not want to be here.”
In tough seasons, counseling needs to be part of the plan. We sat in front of a counselor for many weeks and asked the hard questions. I would say we learned three things.
- Give your spouse the space to be honest.
- Be real about the hurt.
- Be open to the new opportunities when things don’t work out how you think they should.
We also did not close ourselves off to people, which is what we tend to want to do. Our small group leader told us they totally understood if we didn’t want to go, but we knew we needed to keep going. Community helped us get through it.
How specifically did community help you in that season?
I was on the side of, “can we not do this?” I just did not want to deal with lots of people. My wife was the one who said that we need to keep going back.
For somebody who may not have experienced this, but have someone in their life who has—what are the dos and don’ts?
We used to say: don’t be like Job’s friends in the Bible. It’s okay to remain silent. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know what to say.” What tends to happen is the person opens up and says how they really feel. It’s okay to be silent and to grieve with them. It’s not okay to add words, like, “God took your child to be an angel in heaven.” That was not helpful.
We had people ask us if we thought we could’ve done something differently. I did have one friend who told me to let him know if he said something stupid because he was grieving with us and wanted to fix it. That was one of the best things ever.
It’s also okay to see something and go ahead and do it instead of asking. People in grief don’t come up with ideas, but you can just fill the need you see.
How was the process different for you and your wife?
It became real for me once we did hold him after he was stillborn. But we had a great counselor who helped me put myself in Tiffany’s shoes. Oftentimes, we tend to neglect the husband side of it. Because men do hurt, too, in all this.
One of the biggest mistakes I think I made was going back to work five days later. I would tell anyone not to do that. It is okay to take time to grieve. There’s no way to work your way back to normal. There is a new normal now. Thankfully I had a great boss who told me that if coming back so soon didn’t work out, it’s okay to leave.
A counselor helped you process your grief. But what’s second best to a counselor?
If you’re in a situation where you can’t go to counseling—for healthcare or insurance or financial reasons—the next best thing is to find a couple that has gone through a similar situation. Or find a pastor who can walk you through it. Do not walk through it alone. Even with counseling, you can do all three. Don’t rush through; go at it with a slow pace.
What made you decide to have a memorial service for your son?
Even with miscarriage, it’s still that person’s child. It’s not just a medical issue that didn’t work out. It’s also a loss of what they thought was going to happen. It took us about a month to take down the nursery and I remember wondering what we were going to do with all the stuff. God will always lead us to someone who needs what we have.
During that process, another couple at our church was going to have a boy. We told them we weren’t going to use all the stuff soon but knew they could use it. God does use some of these things. If you can serve through the grieving period, you will find yourself being a lot more thankful and that brings peace.
Your one simple thing for this week
If you have just gone through this and your heart is broken: Don’t lose heart. Hold on to the promise God has given you and when you’re ready walk toward that promise.
If you have a friend who has gone through this: Just be there. Pray for them and don’t underestimate the little things like cards.
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