Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's hiding behind your back?

When Mary Kate was a few months old, I attended a Lenten retreat at my church. The visiting priest had us tear up a few pieces of paper and write down our most prized possessions on them. Then he came around with a basket and asked us to drop them in there. He asked each of us to be willing to give up these things for Jesus. He took up all the pieces of paper. We all sat, arrogantly thinking we were willing to give up everything for Jesus.

Then he asked us what was behind our backs.

What are you holding behind your back? What is the ONE thing you can't or will not give to Jesus.

Mary Kate. My baby. I can't give you my baby. Like Abraham carrying his long awaited Isaac, this required a faith that I was just short of having. I am sorry Lord. She's my baby.

Holding my children so tight behind my back has manifested in so many ways over the years. Anxiety about leaving them for a weekend. Slight craziness about their schedules, what they eat, how secure their carseats are. That our parents even want to see their grandkids is probably a miracle for all the hoops I make them jump through. I have lived under the mistaken assumption that the tighter I hold, the more safe they are.

Until now. Now, I am holding so tightly to Thomas even as the Lord whispers to me, "bring him to my altar." "Bring him toward me." And some days, I respond, "okay, Lord. He's yours. But you are just testing me like you did Abraham, right? You just need to see my faith. You won't literally take him, right? RIGHT?!?!?"

Since December 12, when my entire world changed, I have been holding my fists tighter and tighter behind my back, filled with anxiety and worry. Then this weekend I got to go to a few hours of the IF gathering, live streamed at a friend's house. I could barely sing the worship music I so love because I was mad at Jesus. Like a child, I was resisting him because he wasn't giving me what I wanted. How many zillion times does a pregnant woman say, "we just want a healthy baby." Yeah, Lord, that's all I'm asking here. I don't think that's too much to ask of you. Just give me a healthy baby. Until then, I'm gonna worry and cry and have panic attacks and make my home one of anxiety and fear. Okay? Good.

And like a child resisting her parent's embrace, the Lord just held me tighter and tighter until I stopped fighting him. One of the women speaking at the conference had a childhood taken from a horror movie. Every evil that can be committed against a child was inflicted upon her. And her answer? "GET A NEW PROBLEM in 2014." Yes, life sucked for her. But move the heck on. Take whatever is hiding behind your back, give it to the one you supposedly believe in, and let's all move forward.

In the past few days a few key things have happened.
  • I was able to speak to my dear friend, Sister Brunetta, in her new convent. (long story but Missionaries of Charity are not typically permitted to maintain contact after they are transferred). I sobbed into the phone about Thomas. Her beautiful Indian accent, whispered that there was no need to fear. She would pray for our boy, just as she did all those months of our bedrest when the only outing I was permitted was to her home for Mass. She said she would commit our boy to the Blessed Mother and to Blessed Mother Teresa, as we asked. She asked that I write to her but assured me of her prayers, even if we weren't ever able to speak on the phone again. 
  • We finalized plans for Timothy's Baptism, deciding to have it at the Gift of Grace House with Father Fallon. There are actually some logistics in this, as their house is not a parish, but in 24 hours, the Sisters had excitedly approved it, Father Fallon happily accepted an extra Saturday Mass and our home church agreed to write the baptismal certificate. In one of many conversations with Father Fallon, he told me that Tuesday, (today) he would spend the entire day in prayer for Thomas. He told me that I needed to be prepared because when he has done this in the past, miracles have happened. He didn't want me to get my hopes up, but yes, miracles have happened. 
  • Ross, who has reinjured his back, has experienced some really God-given relief and renewed hope in his physical healing. 
  • I have felt my fists unclench, little by little. Thomas may be fine. And He may die. Mary Kate may live until she is 95, or she may get hit by a car tomorrow. I am guaranteed NOTHING in this life, no amount of time with my children. But unclenching does let me live with a little less worry and lot more fun. 
So today, in preparation for snowmageddon part 2 in Atlanta, I took the 3 kids and the sitter to Catch Air. Mary Kate ran and played. We tried to get some play therapy in for Tom, (he preferred mama's lap today) and tried to stop having my every thought be about Tom's future. Then we got into the car to come home and I received a call from the geneticist.  Thomas's appointment at Emory was scheduled for AUGUST 7. Children's can see him in April, but today we found out that he can be seen this MONDAY. Remember that today is Father Fallon's day of prayer, the day I could expect a miracle.

I rushed to email in all the paperwork and added his last 4 pediatrician visit notes. We see the geneticist Monday and the neurologist Tuesday. Our answers may very well come from these places. And I should be happy. Instead, I feel my fists clenching again. I know what diagnoses are in the forefront of my pediatrician's mind. I feel worry and fear settling in again. But I will unclench. I will walk him into those appointments praying my neck off that Thomas is just slow as all heck to hit milestones. I will pray that these doctors think he is stubborn and his body is stubborn and to enjoy these months before he can run away from me. I will pray that if they tell me that his life will be different that what I originally hoped for him, that it will mean he will have a life. A long, happy, different, ordained by God life. And if they tell me that I will need to be Abraham, and that my offering of my son isn't symbolic, well, I just pray that I will be able to praise during our grief. There are oh so many reasons to praise.

So, we may know sooner than we ever thought possible what's going on with our boy. My stomach is in total knots, but I'm not hiding anything behind my back. Whether I learn to give my babies to the one to whom they really belong now or in the many tests to come in the future, I will have to learn this. Because hiding them doesn't change the outcome. Being mad at Jesus isn't going to change His perfect, PERFECT plan for Thomas. Being hopeful and thankful and faithful WILL change me. It will change the tone of this home, the health of our family and my marriage. And whether I have Thomas, or Mary Kate or Timothy for five more moments or five more decades, they deserve a mama who is hopeful and thankful and faithful.

Prayers appreciated next Monday and Tuesday. Oh how happy I'd be for Ross to remind me every hour how dramatic I was over all of this :)