Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Holding My Breath
I live my life in waiting. For a long time, I thought it was a "life phase" thing, something young people do because so much waits up ahead. Everyone waits to turn 16 and get a driver's license, graduate from high school, graduate from college, get their first job, get married. These are big life moments, trophy-worthy. We hold our breath and wait for them, exhaling when we get there. "I have arrived!" And then we hold our breath again and wait for the next one. In between is a lot of hard work and a lot of waiting. But we know the time will come, so we keep on keepin' on, as they say.
If you look at the Instagram picture of my life today, you would likely say that I have really arrived. I hit all those milestones. I am a part of the proverbial husband and wife with our two kids and two dogs. Despite the husband-still-in-school part, we're kind of... there. You know, where everyone ends up. We have arrived.
I stared at my ceiling two nights ago, trying to fall asleep the night before my husband's first doctoral exam and I heard myself think, "Once we get her cochlear and she can hear..." I was thinking about my daughter. And I realized -- I'm still waiting. I've been holding my breath, waiting for someone to fix her. It makes my chest tight to type that... but it's true. I've been waiting... for her.
If you've never been pregnant, it is the ultimate exercise in waiting. I waited for her for nine months and then she came, but she was sick. So we sent her to the hospital and we waited. "A week to two weeks" turned into 52 days, but we waited and the day arrived and she came home. But she was still not totally healthy, so we waited to fix her GI issues. And we waited to fix her sleep issues. And we waited to fix her development issues. We ticked off the days and tapped our toes and learned to be patient. Soon she would be all better and we could relax and enjoy her.
And the GI issues resolved (praise God!). And she started to sleep at night and eventually through the night (praise God!). And she met those developmental milestones and calmed down and cheered up (praise God!). We waited and we arrived and we waited and we arrived. What I didn't realize until last night is that I'm still waiting. In my head, she's still not fixed and we still have another hurdle to clear: her hearing. The surgery looms up ahead in my mind and I catch myself looking toward it, fearful but excited, afraid to put her through that but excited for her to hear. And I realized that deeper down there, what I'm really excited about... is to finally have my daughter. Whole. Complete. Fixed.
If you judge me for this, you should. It makes me feel nauseous to think that I would even feel that way. But I do. I like to think of myself as that mom who loves her kids "no matter what". And while that is true, when I really think about it, or if someone were to ask me, of course that's how I feel. Of course I love my daughter no matter what. But in the back of my mind, there's still a problem. And I realize that underneath the parts of ourselves we know very well sits a well of sin and darkness that is very, very deep. That we think we have a tight, secure lid on, but that honestly, blackens us. When we uncover it, we can repent, shine the light on the darkness, bathe it in the forgiveness of Jesus. But until we know those sins, they boil and bubble under the surface.
I stared at the ceiling two nights ago and thought about my daughter, my daughter who is deaf and who has the absolute cutest scrunchy-nosed smile in all the world. And I resolved to stop waiting. She is here, today, right now, just as she is. She is my daughter in the womb and my very sick daughter in the hospital and my daughter with a G-tube and my daughter who won't sleep at night and my daughter who hates to be touched and my daughter who finally held her head up and my daughter who laughs and my daughter who won't sit up and my daughter who will sit up and my daughter who can't hear. And in four to five months, she will be my daughter who can hear (Lord willing, with the help of her electronic ears). But on that day, she will be no more my daughter than she is today, than she was six months ago, twelve months ago. It will be scary and exciting, but it will not define us today.
The more I thought, the more I stared, the more thankful I became for the love of Jesus. To His children, Jesus says, "I love you." I love you today and yesterday and tomorrow and forever. I love you broken. I love you whole. I love you a prostitute and a liar and a thief and a murderer. I love you prideful and anxious and lazy and mean. I love you faithful to your husband and honest and giving and loving. I love you humble and peaceful and hard-working and kind. Jesus' love does not wait on us. His love does not wait on us to "get fixed". His love does not depend on our condition. He loves us because we are His children. And "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) God shows His love to His children in that while we were still broken, sick, dying, He wrapped His arms tight around us and loved us to His death. Does He promise healing? Growth? Holiness? Yes. Does His love for us depend on that? Wait on that? Need that? No. Above all, I want my daughter to know that love, the love of a God who knitted her, knows her, loves her. And I want to model that love. I want to love my daughter like God loves her, not waiting or holding my breath... but open-armed, honest, true.