Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year Baby

On January 1, 2015, my only biological son will be nine years old.
Nine years.
And I'm staring at the ever-nearing reality that most parents express: oh-so-constant Time has done it again.  It has passed, and we didn't even stop as many times as we meant to so that we could revel in the rare moments of our child's childhood.

I remember intimately every layer of my feelings for this being forming in my womb.  I remember staring at my belly after I had found out, thinking, How is it even possible?  A soul is in there?  Who am I to be entrusted to such importance?  And yet I felt it and I knew it like I had never known anything.  There was life in me, and God trusted me enough to let me be called mommy.

My pregnancy was one of much complication and confusion: I was unwed, and I was recovering from anorexia.  Every time I tried to justify not eating, I thought of this innocent spirit tucked warmly in my womb.  I couldn't abandon him or make him not trust me (and I actually knew it was a "him" before the ultrasound revealed the fact).  I could not kill the only thing that made me certain of my own willingness to live.

Nine years ago today, my family was leaving on a trip to South Dakota, and I agreed to stay at their house and help with chores and taking care of the many animals.  My son was due in one month - a day before my late grandfather's birthday.

The New Year's Eve festivities left me tired, and my back was aching from my stretching belly.  I wanted to go home, and so my son's father drove the 30 minutes back to my parents' house.  My back ached the whole night, and so I watched the digital clock change minutes for a few hours.

By the time sunlight caressed the walls and floors with gentle heat, my aching had a pattern.  Deep down I knew my son was going to arrive early, but nurses on the phone reassured me if I took a Tylenol and a bath, I would feel better from these common pains in the last month of pregnancy; I was not in labor, they said, but I could call back if I needed more advice.

I was folding laundry, and every three minutes, I had to lay down and squeeze a piece of warm laundry close to my body.  "Let's go in, just in case," I told my son's father.  And he drove me to the hospital 30 minutes away.

It was a whirl of quick pain, water breakage, and brief pushing once I got there.  I remember falling slightly asleep between pushes, and feeling the embarrassment of people looking at life appear from me while my son emerged.  I had not a drop of pain-killers in me.  No IV's, no chance for an epidural.  I expected more pain, but I suppose he was small because of his early arrival, and therefore I was spared some pain.

And when I saw him out of my body, his face looked exactly as I had imagined him.  I had seen this little person before; whether in heaven, or in my dreams, I did not know or care.  He was mine.

They put him on my chest and his father and I both wept with joy.  He is here.  He is real.  He is beautiful.

But he couldn't breathe well, and his cries starting to sound like tiny barks at the end, and so they took him away from me before I could give him a name.  They cleaned me up, but I was drowning in my own worries already.
All I wanted was my baby boy.  When can I see him?  What's wrong?  Where is he?

There was nothing I could do but wait.  They tried making me eat.  Where is my baby?  I don't want food, I want my baby!

The nurses assured me that a strong mama was what my boy needed, and so I nourished myself before being taken to the NICU. There, I saw my innocent boy all hooked up to machines so he could breathe.
But I felt like I couldn't breathe.

What did I do wrong to make this happen?  Why can't he breathe right?  How serious is this?  He doesn't even have a name yet.

After the gracious nurses explained the different tubes and machines, I was able to touch my baby boy and really look at him.  His father and I couldn't believe it -- the little, active being that created oceanic waves inside my belly was here!  He was so little, and as every parent thinks of their child, SO CUTE!  ;)

We had a few names in mind, but when we looked at him, we both agreed: He is Julien.  Because we stared into the faces of our own youth, the "youthful" meaning within that name was so accurate.  Handsome and young -- and now my heart had a home within this premature baby boy.

Soon, Julien was released from the tubes and machines, and I could begin motherhood.

And oh, sweet motherhood, it is God's highest calling.  To watch your heart walk around outside of yourself and become its own - greater in passion, more immense than the universe - it requires patience and courage and selfless devotion.

I decided to give every bit of strength that the Lord would give me in order to be a good mama for this little Julien.

To say it is my life calling is the truest thing I can imagine.

My dear Julien is nine(!!!) in a matter of minutes, and as I reflect on this, I am astounded.  I am overwhelmed.  I am so grateful.

Julien, I hope you read this someday and read between the lines that you are the love story woven into my life by Almighty God.  He chose you, sweet boy.  You are a warrior for Him, and I've known it ever since the day I found out you were going to come into the world.

Nine years have never seen more adventures and love than your nine years.  And I pray at least 99 more years of adventure and love for you.  I pray you win battles in the name of Jesus.  I pray that you see healing at the call of His Name.  I pray that you always know my love for you...but way more importantly, that you always know God's Love for you.  Let it be your lifesong.  Let it be your heart's joy.

I wouldn't choose anyone but you, Julien.  You are such a gift.  My nine year old boy.  My sweet blessing straight from heaven.  The first love I was ever certain about (through which God showed me His love).  There is no one else that holds the place in my life that you hold, precious son of mine.

Happy birthday, Julien!!!  I love you with the immensity of heaven, earth, and the universe.  I love you with the Love of God.  I love you with every ounce of my mama self.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Silent Things That Some Can('t) Hear

I curl into myself again, done with the facade.  Done with traversing the rough terrain of my emotions, emotions that other people think I can control, but sometimes I just can't.

I feel too deep.
I think too hard.
A curse (or blessing?) since birth.

And these are the things that have chased people away, have angered loved ones, have put them to their knees begging God to whisper an answer about my poor, ragged soul.  Because people who see me happy love that light, and they want to make it shine again.

What they don't understand is that the dark places they don't want to hear about, because of the overwhelming effect, are the places that light is made.  There are silent things whispered here, and some can't bear to listen because we are all made from different fabrics.  Flammable or inflammable.  Cotton or wool or blended.  Different fabrics have different needs for cleansing, and my fabric needs the deep.

Before God motioned for light to enter, "darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

In these dark places that fold me into myself, God is hovering near.  He is always with me, silently waiting until I look up into His face, where the light shines onto me.  I become a reflection of Him.  But I have always been a stubborn one, finding what God created in the depths before coming up for air.

The best part is: since God created it all, He is with me there.  When He says, "Let there be light," it's not just to produce joy.  It shows me more clearly the things I have found in the deep.

Photo retrieved: (chiaroscuro)

I'm not sure why I insist on taking things further than most people.  It frustrates others, puzzles them, makes them furious.  I understand the inconvenience of it because I live it.  But I am lured again and again to the place of brokenness, of desperation -- ridding myself of myself.  Because then my Lord intimately picks up the pieces of me, setting my bones, stitching my wounds.  I have to unravel my pain until the yarn is all stretched out for miles, both ends and the middle exposed.  When I am fully vulnerable, I allow Jesus into every piece of my past, present, and future.  We will never be perfect this side of heaven, and I feel no reason in pretending.  When I am weak, He is strong.

Some people are like this with pain, and we must be careful to validate it instead of minimize it, or worse, patronize the person.  For some people to heal from past and present wounds, they have to feel every bit of pain and healing.  We are blessed in this: we recognize that it is a process, and therefore we empathize with others more easily.

The pain isn't so much about us as it is about finding The Solution: Jesus.

If you are someone who feels on a deeper level, someone who dwells in the depths from time to time, I implore you to call on Jesus when it gets to be too much.  Allow Him to shine His light on you.  Allow the Father to show you grace in your pain.

It's okay to feel.  It's okay to be weak.  It's even okay to have a dark mood once in awhile.  Because the best contrast to that darkness is His light.

May there be light in your life, sweet friend.