Yesterday was really bad, and I couldn’t tell you exactly why if you asked. But it was just one of those days, ya know? Where your mind is broken and your heart hates not being in control. Last night I laid on the couch and cried. The day was filled with unmet promises to Abe and me dozing off while feeding the baby and pumping at the same time (please don’t ask me why I’m not breast feeding). Small group had left, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed them all somehow.
My 4 year old sat down next to my head and asked me what was wrong. I told him I was feeling very overwhelmed and like a complete failure. I cried harder and apologized for not getting to play hide and seek with him even though I promised I would. He had a pensive look on his face and said, It’s ok, mom. Emery needed all of your attention today.” I smiled and thanked him for being gracious and understanding, to which he replied, “It makes you feel good.”
Oh yeah. It does. I forgot. Grace does make me feel good. I wish I didn’t resist it like I often do.
About a half an hour later, Daniel was holding Emery and trying to get him to stop crying. The more Emery cried, the more Daniel got flustered until he finally gave up and handed the baby over to me. He got up and went outside, leaving us in the living room. Abe turned to me on the couch and said, “Mom, you need to pray for daddy tonight because he is afraid of being a daddy to two boys and thinks he’s bad at it. I pray for him all of the time.” My jaw dropped.
When Daniel tucked him into bed, I could hear sniffles echoing from the room. When Daniel emerged from his room tear-eyed, he told me that Abe had prayed for him, but it wasn’t his regular kind of prayer that usually only makes sense to Abe. It was an intercession for his daddy and a plea for help. And then he went to sleep.
It’s humbling to watch the Holy Spirit use a child to remind us of the gospel things we so easily forget and can’t seem to give to ourselves, especially when the usual prescription for reminders looks like our kids pushing us to our limits. But not yesterday. Yesterday it came in the form of a 4 year old understanding things more clearly than I do 99 percent of the time.
I can’t believe God would allow me to live in a home with people that fight for each other.
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to travel back into time to when you were younger, and watch yourself from the fly on the wall’s perspective?
Having a child is very much like that. You’re not as useless as you’d be from the fly’s perspective, but you can’t really control the way things go either.
There is loneliness in his eyes, and while I think a sibling might help, I don’t think it’s going to fill the longing in his little heart that’s been there since the day we met.
My mom said she watched me play alone on the beach, and she saw those eyes. She knew it was time to have another child so that I could have someone to play with. And while I love my sister very much, that still didn’t fill the gaping hole that made itself known through my eyes.
Having Abram as my son has been like time travel. I’ve been given this human to watch over and care for that is so much like me. I am deeply familiar with that loneliness I see in his eyes everyday, because it’s the same gaze that looked back at me in the mirror for so much of my life.
I watch him with his friends. His anticipation to be with them next is sweet at best and annoying at worst, but as soon as he’s with them, that gaze settles back in. That overwhelming feeling of being alone shows up on his face in a room full of peers and laughter.
He’s so desperate in his quest to feel like he belongs. It’s why he got so bent out of shape last week when I told him our television didn’t belong to him, but just to us and that we let him use it. The thought of him not being included in that ownership wrecked him.
It’s why, no matter how many times a day we tell him that 1) we love him and 2) he’s not alone, he still falls apart when we ask him to go play in his room.
I could go on and on with the examples I’ve taken note of and observed to explain the longing that I see in my son, but continuing to write them out would just make me sob, and I’ve already done that once today.
What’s so hard about this part of my job as Abe’s mother is that there’s nothing I can do to convince him of the truth. I can teach it to him formally, I can have dozens upon dozens of conversations with him about what he’s going through and what I’ve gone through, we can fight about it and then pray until our voices give out. But at the end of the day, there’s no transaction of truth we can make that will leave his heart convinced until the God that created and treasures him convinces Abram Himself.
I anticipate the day when I see that lonely look turn into one of peace and satisfaction. The fact that I can’t control when that happens doesn’t mean I’m going to give up telling my son the truth, day in and day out. My job is to help him plow the fields of his heart and sow the seeds. The growth, the changing of seasons and the pruning- that’s not up to me.
Last Wednesday, I woke up feeling rough. My last days of pregnancy have never been characterized as fun and refreshing. I’d say “trying and exhausting” would be a more accurate depiction, and maybe some other colorful descriptives I probably shouldn’t share here.
I don’t sleep well at all in my “terminal stages of pregnancy”, as Michael Scott would refer to it. I’m actually leaps and bounds more okay with this reality than I was 4 1/2 years ago, during my last trimester with Abe. I used to worship sleep well above pretty much everything else, and not being able to get enough of it seriously and literally would ruin my life. It’s still embarrassing to admit that. And what I find so absurd about that time, looking back, is that I didn’t have a young child to care for while I was pregnant. And by the end of my third trimester, I was on partial bed rest and had absolutely no responsibilities but to simply lay around and do nothing. What did I have to be so bent out of shape about? Nothing. However, I digress.
As my eyes barely opened that morning, I became immediately aware of the soreness imparted by the breath taking contractions from the evening before paired with a restless night in bed. I looked at my phone for a few moments to adjust my eyes to being open, and slowly forced myself to sit up. Our bed doesn’t currently have a frame, so it sits on the floor. This is fine, for a normal-bodied human. But for me, physically getting up out bed makes me feel as though my eye balls are for-realsies going to pop out of my face as I push myself in an upward motion. It’s making me giggle thinking about it, but it’s never funny when the ordeal is taking place.
I walked into the living room to get a glance at my tiny man, exchanged morning greetings, and then waddled my way into the kitchen for my usual glass of lemon water. I turned around and Daniel came up to hug me, and I told him I needed Abe to go to daycare for the day because I was just not going to be able to care for him. It frazzled him a bit, as getting Abe ready would put him a few minutes behind for work. Abe wasn’t happy about the sudden change in his routine, as he doesn’t go to daycare anymore, except for maybe once a month when I really need him to (our daycare is wonderful and always has a spot open for him). We managed to get him dressed through the groans and the objections, and off they went out the door, leaving me sitting on the couch wondering what to do.
Normally, I’d start making myself breakfast, but I’ve not been very hungry the past few days. Just nauseated, really. When I do get hungry, I just want to eat extremely sharp cheddar cheese and drink soda. I don’t know why, but that’s just what my body is craving during these final days. I would imagine the desire for soda has to do with my unsettled stomach, and the cheese for the fats and proteins. I don’t know.
I wasn’t going to drink coca cola at 8:50 in the morning, so I just sauntered back into my room and plopped down on the bed. As I huddled under the sheets and grabbed every pillow in arms reach to cushion myself, I could feel my body and my heart urging me to do the thing that always brings me rest: fall apart and spill into the hands of God.
The truth is, I really, REALLY hate giving in to “weakness”. Ha. As if being pregnant is a weak condition. What I mean is, I don’t like having to tell Abe that he’s got to go hang with some other people for a while so I can rest. I want to be able to watch him and rest, I want to do both. I want to be super woman. The night before, I was crying and venting over feeling so awful about laying in bed while Abe watched tv that day, as I just did not have the energy to get up and play with him. Daniel had a put-down-his-foot moment and said he was going to take Abe to daycare in the morning, because I needed a break. I got more upset and came up with all kinds of excuses why he didn’t need to go, but I knew in my heart Daniel was right.
Sometimes, I need help. I thought I’d cleared that prideful wall, but I haven’t. There’s still so much left of it for me to climb.
I knew it when I woke up that morning, which is why I gave in. Wrapped up in my nest of sheets and pillows, I began to thank God for the day. I didn’t have much fluff to say, and got right into what I really needed to tell Him:
“Help me rest in your hands. I’m experiencing fear, anxiety and the feelings of failure. I want to hand those over to you so that I can find peace in You being in control. I’m afraid that the end of this pregnancy will be like the last one, and I’ll go in and out of labor for what seems like an eternity and be so incredibly miserable. If my body is meant to do that again, help me to see it with different eyes. Help me to see what You see.”
After I prayed that, the words “Be Thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart” flooded my mind. Just that first line and nothing else. I thought about it for a moment and was astounded by the lyric.
Replace my eyes with your eyes so that I can see everything the way you see everything.
As I let that simmer, I cried and released all of that tension. And then I felt the rest that I’d been needing. I found a piano/violin version of Be Thou My Vision on youtube and just listened to that for a few minutes as I closed my eyes and allowed my body to unwind.
There’s still a lot of pride left in these bones. God removes things from me in layers, and I suspect He won’t be done with the layers of pride anytime soon. If you’re reading this, and I’ve refused your helping hand, I’m sorry. I’m still learning that receiving is just as important as giving. Giving can become a foul thing, as it is easy to allow the act to be about one’s self and how good one can be. Receiving requires the terrifying choice to be vulnerable. Jesus received over and over in the new testament with gladness and joy; I don’t know why we ever try to believe we’re somehow different.