My default mode when I am stressed or overwhelmed is escapism, and usually my escapism of choice is watching TV shows on DVD. Currently I just finished season 2 of Mad Men and it's impressive how many episodes I can go through in a week. The girls at Family Video must think I'm one of those housewives who just stays in her sweatpants all day doing nothing. The sweatpants part is close to true, but I've mostly just been sleeping less and staying up late after Jonah is in bed. It's not that I don't want to face the stuff going on in my life; it's just that I come to a certain point where I want some good old entertainment to help me balance out the heaviness of the day. Yeah, some of my days feel pretty heavy lately. The dust has settled, the shock of our baby boy having a heart defect has worn off, and now Daniel and I are just trying to adjust to our expectations being chucked out the window while we wait, wait, wait for February 1.
I don't think there's anything wrong with my desire for occasionally forgetting my problems, but today when Jonah went down for a nap and my house was quiet, I stopped myself before settling down on the couch with the remote. Instead I thought maybe I should just spend some time being quiet and praying. For a long time I just sat there until I remembered an article about prayer Daniel had printed for me a few days ago that's been sitting on my counter ever since. He loved it and had encouraged me to read it and think about how I'm praying for our family and for Caleb. I expected to read something uplifting and instead, to be honest, I was kind of annoyed by the thing. The gist of the article was how most of the time when we pray, we offer up these pitiful, weak prayers of "whatever is your will, God" and we forget that God has called us to be His co-laborers, assigning us the task of helping Him to shape the world around us. The writer talked about how it's not so much laziness that keeps us from being more devoted to prayer, it's our subconscious belief that it probably won't make that much of a difference anyway. While I read his challenge to never accept the world around me as just the products of a broken and fallen world, I started to feel annoyed because that's exactly how I think when I'm trying to cope with life. It is WAY easier to accept things that come my way as long as I can believe that it's all God's plan. But when I am confronted with the possibility that some circumstances in our lives are NOT part of God's plan, and that He wants His people to intercede and petition Him to change the course of events, I have no idea how to proceed. How do we know what's what? How do we know it's a time to pray the prayer of faith, to believe for healing and miracles? How do we know when it's one of those seasons when God allows our pain to remain, to shape our hearts or give witness to His name? Right about now, you're wanting to insert a cliche, aren't you? "Our God can do anything!" "God wants to use your family!" Yeah, I know. And I know that probably what I'm supposed to do is pray for healing but trust Him and be ok if He says no. That sounds like the right answer. But from the article I read today, this guy was talking about not taking no for an answer, that we should wear God out with our prayers, like the story of the woman who petitions the judge for justice. Jesus talked about how our prayer life should resemble a woman who, knowing she has been wronged, goes to the same judge over and over and over until he is so tired of seeing her face that he gives her what she wants just so she'll leave him alone. Read the story, it's in Luke 18:1-8. How can I possibly pray like that? Where is the emotional energy to go to God, desperate and begging, over and over, stubbornly believing that He will grant me the answer I seek? It's so much easier to get going on the path of acceptance and thus healing. Luckily for the woman in the story, she eventually got what she sought. What if I don't? Can I handle that? Can I handle continuing to believe Caleb can be healed, only to find out at doctor appointment after doctor appointment that he is still sick? Where's the parable about that one, Jesus?
I decided that it was ok to tell Jesus I was annoyed with this particular truth today. I confessed I have no idea what the heck I'm doing, but that I really want to learn more about prayer. If he was willing to teach his disciples how to pray, surely he's willing to teach me, too. And he was; as I told him how conflicted I felt, he immediately gave me peace and calmness and reminded me that he cares about Caleb's heart, and he cares about mine too. I'm so glad I know a God who loves me and takes care of me even when I think some of His promises seem absurd. Help my unbelief, Lord. I know you're with me, I just don't know what you want me to do sometimes.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
It probably only happens a couple of times during your life, when you realize you're in the middle of a moment that will change the road you're on forever. Tuesday morning we had the most life-changing moment we've ever experienced when Daniel and I went in for a run-of-the-mill ultrasound, giddy to find out if we were going to give Jonah a baby brother or baby sister. Since our mind was full of "pink or blue?", you can imagine the shock when the ultrasound tech came back into our room to say we needed to talk with a doctor because something was wrong with our baby's heart. Four hours later we were at St. Vincents Women's Hospital, meeting with a pediatric cardiologist and neonatologist, who confirmed that our baby boy has a serious congenital heart defect called tricuspid atrisia, meaning that one of the valves in his heart never formed. As a result, the right side of his heart, which is responsible for pumping blood to the lungs, is underdeveloped and won't be able to function when he's born. The solution is open heart surgery within a few days of his birth, including a hospital stay of about 2 months, and that's if all goes well. You can imagine how shocked and dumbfounded we were, sitting in this room with this news that our baby was going to be born into one of the most high-risk medical situations a child can be born with. I felt like I was in a Lifetime movie or something, like this information could not possibly be our new reality. Not only will our baby boy's birth and first few weeks of life be spent in a hospital, and full of unpredictability, he will have to have two additional surgeries by the time he's three years old. All the expectations we had in our mind of what our second child's life was going to be like are being replaced with a giant question mark. We left St. Vincents after a very long day, not sure how to begin to accept and cope with this turn of events. Now it's been just four days and this morning as we laid in bed for a few minutes before Jonah was up, we talked not about how much our life has changed, but how much WE have changed in this short amount of time. Amazingly, Daniel and I are really at peace. Even though this is more painful than we can describe, we have so much thankfulness in our hearts that God has laid out this particular path for us and our family. We know that this isn't some unlucky lightning bolt that just happened to strike us. This is the beautiful plan of a Father who loves us and knows infinitely better than we do. And we can honestly say that we are looking ahead with hope and joy.
Yesterday we were talking about what this amazing little boy's name should be, and we thought of the story of Caleb. The Israelites had fled Egypt and were heading to the promised land that God had prepared for them. But when they arrived, they sent scouts to check out this new land and report back what they saw. The scouts came back saying the land was rich and fruitful, but there were giants living there. The scouts were terrified and told the rest of the Israelites that there was no way they could ever conquer them and live in this place. But one scout, Caleb, spoke up and said to not be afraid, but that they should trust that God would lead them into that good land, giants and all. Caleb saw the same obstacles everyone else saw, but he saw them differently. He trusted that God was who He said He was, and that He was more than able to fulfill His promises. Caleb's name even means "faithful", and although all the Israelites who doubted never got to enter the promised land, God blessed Caleb for his trust in Him. In Numbers 14:24, God said "But my servant Caleb is different than the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land." We have named our little boy Caleb James Kinnaird. We are praying that God would help us to have the trust and faithfulness that Caleb had; that we would look ahead and instead of seeing giants to fear, we will see God's perfect, crazy, and wonderful plan.