A bit of business before I forget: My mother has been keeping a caring bridge website up to date with information about little Sarah.
It amazes me how well God knows me. It amazes me every time He gives me a boost every time I need one, and often before I have thought to ask.
When Josh and I drove away from the doctor where we first learned that there was something wrong with the pregnancy, we were silent. We were afraid. I did not know how to process the information, and certainly I did not know how to handle it. We had the radio on, as always in the car, to Lily's favorite radio station which plays contemporary Christian music. The song came on I will walk by Faith, whose lyrics include the lines,
Would I believe you when you would say
Your hand will guide my every way?
Will I receive the words You say
Every moment of every day?
Well, I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see.
As we wondered about our peanut sized child, we worried. We worried about problems we could not see which would inevitably put us on a path we could not predict. Would we hear His voice? Would we listen? It is hard to walk in faith when you really cannot see- but I guess that's what faith is. I cried as I listened, and I knew that Josh and I would do the best we could to listen to God's voice, and to simply trust that He listens to us.
Later, when Sarah was born, the prognosis was worse than we expected- though certainly not out of the realm of what we spoken to our doctors about. We were "prepared." Nothing can prepare you to to hear that your child is not expected to live. When wecame out of the meeting with the doctors, our older daughter Lily, gave us the pictures she had been working- pictures of Sarah under a rainbow. God is in control. We are not, but He loves us and whatever happens, He will take care of our baby.
Another time, when I had just said goodbye, again, to Lily and climbed in the car to drive away I felt that now familiar tear. Lily ask questions. Where are you going? When will you be back? Can you just bring Sarah home now? I began to cry and for the first time wonder if I could do this. I was tired, and getting more tired. Lily missed home. Sarah's emotional needs, slip down on the priority list. How long had it been since I slept in the same house as my husband? Can I do this? Again, it was the radio delivering the message: a song I did not know came on and the line I heard was, "I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength." Chin up. God will not give me more than I can handle.
My brother, Mark, forbid me to try and think about everything at the same time. Just deal with one thing at a time. I try. Just take one step, and then another. And when there are setbacks, try not to dwell on the regression. Just keep taking steps forward.
Magnificat magazine quoted St. John Chysostom:
"By restraining our grief, on the contrary, we both please God and conduct ourselves becomingly in the eyes of men. For, if we ourselves do not succomb unrestrainedly to grief, he will qickly take away the portion of grief we feel; whereas. if we give way to excessive grief, he will permit us to become entirely possessed by it. If we give thanks for it, we shall not be disheartened."
I thought the quote applied well to fear and I have thought of it often since I read it. Mark's and St. John's advice, sound similar to me and I try to keep them both in mind.
Sunday morning was particularly difficult. We had been discussing taking the tube out and letting Sarah breathe on her own. We were thrilled that she seemed to be making progress. Then she ad a particularly bad day which culminated in self-extubation (she took the tube out witout the doctor's permission!)- twice! Twice in six hours. It was a pretty major setback. The more than doubled her sedation to be sure it did not happen again, and we stopped talking about getting he ff the vent. Suddenly, we were talking about a Trache.
As things started to settle, in an artficially induced calm, I realized that the peace Josh and I had been experiencing was missing. I was not just fearful, I did not know how to hold my head up. I realized that just in those few days of relative calm I had settled into old habits- forgetting to pray or praying short memorized and unfelt prayers. I do not blame myself for her episode of agitation, but my lapse in faith was certainly why I had been unable to face these problems. I told myself that I did not have to go to Church that day- my daughter's health was a valid excuse. I am still pretty sure that I could convince most people that it was a valid excuse. God knew, better than I, that I just did not want to face Him. I was feeling sorry for myself and pleased to immerse myself in my problems.
I went to the hospital chapel, where there was supposed to be mass. I knew I was too late, and I knew it. But it soothed my conscience to make an active effort to get to Church. The chapel was empty. There on the table, someone had left a pile of prayer cards with the following prayer:
Nade te turbe,Nade te espante,
Todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
todo la alcanza.
Quien a Dios tienenada le falta,
solo dios basta.
Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee;
All things pass: God never changes.
all that it strives for.
He who has God
lacks for nothing:
God alone suffices.
St. Therea of Avila
I went to Chuch, and the priest preached about missing Mass. The Psalm was psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd! Again and again, just when I need to hear God's voice, He speaks. These days, the message is not subtle. God's grace is all I need. His strength, not mine, will carry me. His wisdom, not mine, must lead.