Last week started with me dropping a dozen eggs on the cold tile floor of my kitchen. The rest of the week pretty much followed suit. And if I’m being entirely honest, I felt just as broken.
I had planned on this being a tough week. My daughter was scheduled for a brutal test on Thursday that required an entire day of preparation. She fasted. So did I. By evening I was tired, hungry, and cranky. She was facing another phase of prep that required her to drink something she was dead set against. My husband came home and sent me and the other girls to Chick Fil-A and told me to eat something. My fasting wasn’t doing any of us any good.
When I retuned I took over the mission at hand. I probably broke every parenting rule in the book. Finally, with the firmness of drill sergeant I set the timer on my phone and the cup was emptied minute by minute. By the time bedtime rolled around we were both exhausted. She slept. I didn’t.
The next day was a mix of more emotions than I can possibly express. How can you put into words what it feels like to follow your child into a procedure room and watch as they put her to sleep. To step away from her with a gentle kiss on the hand is like jumping into a turbulent sea.
I found solace in a mediocre cup of coffee and the company of the only other person on earth who understood, my husband. And we waited.
I wrestled, too. You should know, that I’ve been here before.
“Early one spring morning I found myself making the best of a chair beside my daughter Caroline’s hospital bed. She was sleeping; I was not. Instead, I was wrestling with God in my pit of despair. It felt like I was drowning while standing on dry ground. I had no eloquent words. No verses rose up from the hundreds I could have recited the day before. The only thing I could remember was the story of the Centurion who went to Jesus and begged healing for his servant. The centurion told Jesus that it wasn’t necessary for him to come to the house: “Only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8). So, like a woman long ago and, I’m sure, countless since then, I grabbed hold of his holy hem and would not let go. Over and over I prayed it: Just say the word, Jesus” ”
A doctor’s diagnosis comes slowly. Or at least it comes much more slowly than moms and dads would like. As the puzzle pieces began to fit together and our eight-year-old endured just about every test you can imagine, we found some answers. Those answers came with treatment I was nervous to say yes to. They also came with a large dose of mommy guilt I had to battle, because how could I not have known? What kind of mother does not know this is happening right under her nose? I wrestled with that too. Maybe I still am.
But the doctor spoke the words I longed to hear. In my heart, though, it was really Jesus who confirmed it: “She is very sick, but she is going to be okay.” And something deep within this weary mom broke wide open after I had held my breath for hours that seemed like days. And Jesus held strong. Because what is truer in the moment than his promise to never leave us and his call to take courage in him? Nothing.” Fresh Out of Amazing, Chapter 7 coming September 2016
In the few months since that week, we have daily battled a mystery we can’t quite grasp. And we were reminded once again this week, we might never be able to fix it. How do you look your girl in the eyes and tell her all the treatment, all the pills, all the food she has had to pass on, and all the tests have not proven helpful. She is only nine years old.
It breaks you. It broke me. An honestly, I just sat down and wept.
We took her to Panera and let her eat whatever she wanted. We didn’t tell her anything until the next day. She must have known because she started asking questions we knew we couldn’t avoid anymore. I think her response was better than mine. That has been the case more times than I care to admit.
So here I sit, trying to make peace with it all. Endurance is calling out to me from a few feet ahead and reminding me of the marathon ahead of us. I’m doing my level best not to lose heart. And I know what I’m supposed to do. I know the truth of his goodness. I know he is present with us. I know he holds no matter what I am feeling.
I know this, because the last time I was here, his faithfulness was not void:
“God is not surprised by midnight phone calls to rush our babies to the ER, the passing of his saints, or the world’s rages or quakes. Our God is the one thing we need in such times and always. He can handle his people’s questions whether they’re asked by prophets of old or moms worried sick over their babies. Author Angie Smith once said on her Instagram, “There is something beautiful about the wrestling nobody sees.” Is it possible God looked down and saw my ache, my desperation, and said, “Beautiful”? He bore witness to my wrestling no one saw. He didn’t hide from me; he held me.” – Fresh Out of Amazing, Chapter 7.
Tomorrow, he will hold again. When we take her for a new treatment we pray works this time. We will sit with her for the three hours it is scheduled to take, trusting in the unseen hand of our good, good Father.
And he will hold.
Even if we can’t fix it.
“…we celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance. Which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.” Romans 5:3-4