It’s late summer 2020. The house is quiet and dark and I’m awake. Jordan is asleep beside me and the girls are tucked in across the house, their little girl hair sprayed across their pillows, their chests rising and falling slowly, rhythmically. I have visited them a few times already to kiss their cheeks and whisper prayers of thanks and protection over them. I’m so grateful for these people - my husband and my children. I love them so much it terrifies me. That’s a new feeling, the fear - like a fog that always hovers just over top of every moment of motherhood now, of life.
I’m only a few months out from feeling my whole life spiral out of control when Bonnie was rushed into emergency surgery for a septic joint. For weeks words like “could be cancer, could become septic, could lose the leg” were lobbed at me while I floated somewhere outside of reality. And the toll her illness took on my emotional, mental, and spiritual life still reverberates my insides in ways that sneak up on me. It is the closest I have ever come to my world crumbling and running through my fingers like sand. It was the first time in my life that I was the real grown up, the decider. The one everyone looked to for what we would do next. I was the one at the center of her care. - the one the doctors looked at first when they came in the room. It was the closest I’ve ever come to crushing pain. To losing what I love the most. I didn’t. She was fine after all of it. She doesn’t remember any of it. But I’ll never be the same. And tonight, months later, here we are in the the thick of a COVID surge. So right now, lately, I don’t sleep well.
After I check again that everyone is safe in the quiet dark, I stare at the fire alarm light blinking blue on the ceiling. A secret thought is running through my mind and I don’t understand it. It’s a whisper I can only hear in the quietest most secret place in my heart. But it’s scary because I know now in ways I didn’t understand before that this desire would be my greatest joy, but also could be the source of my deepest sorrow if I ever lost it. I want another baby.
We all have stories that shape us - a lifetime of experiences and interpretations, assumptions and conclusions drawn. We form opinions and shape our world view based on how we interact with and interpret the world and people around us. We engage with the world everyday based on dozens of stories we’ve come to believe. Sometimes, though, it’s worth re-examining our stories, questioning them, and asking ourselves some honest questions. Why do I believe what I believe? What experiences taught me this? Does what I believe still serve me and help me? Does it serve and help others? Does it point to the glory of God? Is my story true?
In my life, I have found myself in lots of untrue stories that don’t pass the re-examination - stories like, ”I’m not a good mom.” “I can’t get through this.” “I’m not smart enough or qualified enough for what I’m trying to do.” “I don’t have any friends.” and “I could do it better than her.” These stories come from a place of perfectionism and scarcity. When I look at them closely, they don’t serve or help me and they certainly don’t serve or help others. They do not point to the glory of God. They are not true. And they are not my stories anymore.
But lately I have found myself examining another story. It’s the story I tell myself that doctors are good. That they have my best interest at heart. Right now I am seeing so many people doubt, defy, and even out right call doctors liars. So I decided to examine my own story to see if it still holds.
Here is my story and these are my findings.
This week's post is inspired by Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, GA,
where washed up, stripped down, bare and broken trees are strewn across a long stretch of beach. It's a pile of brokenness that draws people from across the country to visit, play, climb, propose, get married, and take family photos. Without the brokenness, we wouldn't have the treasure of its strange and arresting beauty. Without the brokenness, the beach would be just another beach. The brokenness was the way to the beauty.
I’m flying around the house barefoot, my unwashed hair still swept up in a 6am ponytail as I start the end of day sprint to the finish line - a laundry basket on my hip, taco meat sizzling on the stove, and a toddler under my feet. In passing, my eyes resignedly noticing the dog hair in the corner, the finger prints on the window, and the marker on the table. The big girls are in the playroom, and behind the closed door they’ve jumped into a new realm - a very real one - of princesses and villains and magic and mystery. I half hear the tragedy and adventure unfolding while I wipe and fold and stir and sweep away the day.
I have an air pod in one ear, and I’m trying to soak in the profoundly beautiful and heart breaking conversation between two of my favorite authors on the other end. I mentally note the disparity between the depth of their words and the mundane reality of the moment I’m living.
I’m trying with every ounce of my grown up brain to sink into the depth of the conversation pouring into my ear, to talk lovingly to Bonnie at my heels, to be enchanted by the drama unfolding in the playroom, and to just not burn dinner. It’s strange how my world has shrunk so drastically in the last six months, and yet I’m still moving so fast. Multitasking, distracted, disconnected. And too much is whipping past me, I’ll never soak it all in. My brain is skimming rapidly over the surface of an ocean of ideas and possibilities, thoughts and emotions, experiences and connections, and hopes and fears.
There's a fire, low and hot, spreading and speeding rapidly - reaching its smoldering fingers into every corner of our nation, and bursting our communities into raging flames of reckoning. We’ve run from it before, and stifled it out. We’ve doused it and blocked it. But this time it’s different, and we can’t run from the fire any longer. We have to let it burn - sometimes slow, then raging, sometimes racing, then simmering - for as long as it takes to burn down the ugliness it’s after. Then, when there’s nothing left to catch, the fire will extinguish itself. And we can begin our renewal.
Our bodies are expectant of change in the Summer because year after year we shift our rhythms as we end the school year and crash into summer. We usually find our Summer renewal in the rest and play and lightness of heart of the season. This year, though, even as we are tired from months of social distancing, and even as we crave renewal more than ever, this summer brings a work for us. Our renewal will not come through rest and play and lightness of heart, but through the bitter and excruciating work of tearing down, brick by brick, the institution of hate which has formed a rotting bedrock in our country for generations - racism in America. This summer, renewal is still ours for the taking. But I’m telling you, it won’t come through rest, it will come through deliverance.