All Must Be Well

“What are heavy? sea-sand and sorrow.
What are brief? today and tomorrow.
What are frail? spring blossoms and youth.
What are deep? the ocean and truth.”
― Christina Rossetti

I’ve driven many miles since March 19.

Our house is so quiet now. The pitter-patter of her little feet running round and round the downstairs is gone. So are the squeals and giggles, the discordant (yet exceedingly jubilant) piano playing, the shouts of “Heyyyyy!” when she was ready to get up from her nap, the sound of the word “cat” being used to describe all furry little animals… I still wake up in the middle of the night and think I hear her cry out from a nightmare. But I know that if I go in her room to comfort and snuggle her, I’ll be greeted by the sight of an empty crib and lonely stuffed animals.

Sometimes the silence is so deafening I almost can’t handle it. So I get in the car, roll the windows down, turn the music up, and drive until I can see straight again.

I took two hours to get home from Walmart last week. I made the mistake of wandering through the toddler clothes section. I drove until I was almost lost before I could consider going home.

I like cemeteries. I drive through them and remind myself that at least she isn’t dead. But then I have to leave because I start thinking of all the terrible things that could happen to her. With gritted teeth I try to trust her safety to my Maker as I turn the music up and drive faster.

When people talk about praying for her, I think of the one prayer that I prayed every day of my life until I was 8 years old. How I thought God failed at answering my prayer because of what He finally sent in response to it. I think of that passage in Matthew 7 where we read that a good father gives bread not stones, fish and not snakes, and that God is the best father. I think of what I asked for and what I got. How I thought she was born and came to us because, at long last, He was granting what my heart so desired. How for a year and half, I thought the 15 year nightmare was completely worth it, because of the joy that it had brought in the end. She was the one good thing that ever came from my prayer. And now she is gone. But maybe I just don’t pray right.

I love getting together with my friends. For hours I can smile, laugh, joke, and convince myself I’m happy again. Then on the drive home, I pull over and wait until I can see again. I don’t really like carpooling anymore.

I don’t know how this grief thing is supposed to work for someone who hasn’t died. How long before it stops hurting so much? How long before I’m not constantly thinking about her and the fact that she is living, breathing, laughing, crying, and growing and I can’t be with her? How long before unexpected reminders of her don’t knock the wind out of me? How long before I can look at a picture of her without tears blurring my vision? How long before I can shake off this thick cloud of grief that turns everything grey?

I’m just so tired of feeling.

So I drive.

I drive until I stop feeling so keenly. I drive until the overwhelming sadness crawls back into its hole and I can resume my pretense of having it all together. I drive until I can say, “Fine, how are you?” in voice that doesn’t tremble. I drive until I can smile brightly and be peppy and silly and all the things people expect me to be. I drive until I can find the threads of my faith. I keep driving until I remember that I do trust Him even if I don’t feel like I do.

But the driving isn’t a cure, it’s just a coping mechanism, and it failed me today. Her second birthday is less than a month away, and the closer it gets, the more I struggle. For weeks now, I’ve been inwardly consumed with grief and despair. Today, I stood on the edge of my faith. Doubt wrapped its chilly fingers around my ankles and dragged me down. I wanted to let go of those tattered threads and fall.

I don’t doubt God’s existence or His power or His wisdom or His love for His children. No, I just doubt His love for me. I listened to that doubt, to despair and self-pity. I took my eyes off the cross. And just like Peter when he looked at the waves, I started sinking beneath my sorrows.

At that moment, my phone, that exceedingly distracting device, blinked at me. I yielded to temptation and was informed that one of my best friends (who rarely posts on Facebook) had posted something. So I tapped the notification. This was the post:

“Through the love of God our Savior,
All will be well;
Free and changeless is His favor;
All, all is well.
Precious is the blood that healed us;
Perfect is the grace that sealed us;
Strong the hand stretched out to shield us;
All must be well.

 

Though we pass through tribulation,
All will be well;
Ours is such a full salvation;
All, all is well.
Happy still in God confiding,
Fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
Holy through the Spirit’s guiding,
All must be well.

 

We expect a bright tomorrow;
All will be well;
Faith can sing through days of sorrow,
All, all is well.
On our Father’s love relying,
Jesus every need supplying,
Or in living, or in dying,
All must be well.”

{Mary B. Peters, 1847}

I think my heart stopped beating for a moment. Surely the timing was just a coincidence. …But I don’t actually believe in coincidences.

When Peter began to sink, he cried out for Jesus to save him.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
-Matthew 14:31

Immediately. That’s how quickly Jesus responded when someone He loved was in danger.

I remembered what had happened over the weekend, too. Saturday I wrestled late into the night with despair. I finally fell into something like sleep, but morning did not find me refreshed and ready to defeat my sorrows again. Then I saw I had a message from another of my best friends.

“This morning, God woke me up at 4am with the names of several friends on my heart to pray for. Now, I wish I could say I was immediately obedient to that call, but I found myself being awakened again at 5:30… So today, know that God is fighting for you. This morning saw an hour and a half of battle prayer, and I know I’m not the only one to pray for you this week. Know that He is pursuing you, wanting you and me to draw closer to Him each day, and He will not stop until the work is finished.”

Why am I so weak? Why do I doubt His love so often?

Why does He keep reminding me when I keep forgetting? How is He so patient with me? I guess the answer is because He really loves me. 🙂

I’m holding on to those threads again. I’m holding on to that Love that will not let me go – even when I try to let go of Him.

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