The months which followed Veronica's birth were full of worry and angst. I felt ill prepared to be a mother. This new job requiring me to instantly die to myself has been a day by day process, and somehow I was to do it overnight.
I'm a feelings gal. Always have been, always will be. I remember in my college days sitting in a camp auditorium with my fellow Core leaders preparing for the coming year, not 'feeling' anything about God. I felt empty. I felt distant from God, as though he wasn't there. Later that night I began crying aloud to my mentor at the time, "But, I don't feel anything! I don't feel God. How can I worship when I don't feel anything?"
She gently, but firmly responded, "Kamille, worshipping God has nothing to do with feelings. It's an act of obedience to say who he is because he is. Sometimes you feel great connection, and sometimes you don't."
Here I am some 15 years later, still struggling with my God complex. It's a little different from that 19 year old girl wondering about feelings and how can she keep worshipping when she doesn't feel anything. Yet, it runs in a full circle. The question continues to spin on God's faithfulness amidst suffering. Is he good?
For some reason, I have strong, quite violent fears, anxious thoughts revolving around my eldest daughter. I see that young mother and I'm not too far removed from her. Those early thoughts that somehow she would be taken from me, as if God was wanting me to suffer and my goodness depended upon keeping her alive.
Fast forward to many doctor visits, therapy sessions, IEP assessments and it can leave an already weary mama to question God's goodness.
I relate with the disciples in the boat as they shout for help from Jesus, "WHY AREN'T YOU SAVING US? WHY ARE YOU SLEEPING?" And the whole time, he's so chill. Like, kind of annoying chill. But, once he calms the sea, they're response is mine, "Who is this man?"
My dear friend Jordan is a source of strength in my life. She speaks calm, rational words, which root my often overactive imaginative emotions. She reminded me of the story when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and each tribe was to gather a large stone to build an altar of remembrance. It served to stand for God's faithfulness to them as they went from Egypt to the Promise Land.
When I was only seven weeks pregnant with Veronica, I began bleeding. I went to the doctor and had blood drawn three different times to check my HCG levels, to ensure they were doubling every 24 hours. Well, after the second draw, it didn't increase that much. Signs pointed to life being lost. But, when I went in for a third draw, they found the levels did increase. I also had an early ultrasound, which was right around the time when the baby's heart takes shape to beating. There on the screen was a light going in and out, in and out--her heart.
A month later, I would receive a stone (like that of the Israelites) to write words on as an exercise. The words were "joy," "steadfast," and "praise." As Jordan was telling me about the stones, I happened to be in my room to turn and see that stone of mine sitting, dust covered on my dresser.
I think it's too easy as a mama to think too much about my daughter's story, as if I am the culprit, the bearer of my children's doing and undoing. After talking about my fears, my lack of faith in who God is, Ben responded,
Kamille, remember that Veronica's story is hers. Sure, you get to be apart of her story--but there comes a point when you need to allow her to live out the story God is writing for her. Her story and your story are different.
Yes, "her story and my story are different."
I find it's often easy to forget where the parallels are happening in our story to then perceive them as one. I carried, gave birth, tended, nurtured this little reliant babe. I advocate, encourage, hold close this little girl, but only so that she can find her story. Those words Ben spoke, speak to my core. Maybe they speak to you? Those of us with such empathetic hearts can often believe that we know someone else's story so well that it's the same as ours.
But, it's not.
I get to watch my daughters live out their story. I get to entrust them to God. I get to entrust my story to Him. That's not often easy when there's a whole bunch of baggage to sort through, when you're not quite sure at times if he is who he says he is. When your prayer is "I believe, help my unbelief."
But, when I hold my own remembrance stone...
How can I forget? How can I claim to own anyone else's stones but mine?
It's freeing to know, that the man in the boat, who calmed the sea and the waves just by his voice--is the the great author of our stories.
It's freeing to know, that the suffering will come, and life & death go hand in hand, but Jesus holds the key to death's door.
It's freeing to know, the end of the greatest story ever to breathe, is the one we all can live in.