So back to yesterday's bible study... Childcare is great but, frankly, it was boring. A video of a very enthusiastic biblical scholar exclaiming her way through the entire book of Hebrews was simply not reaching me. I've been dazed for days anyway. To stop the blank staring I was doing, I started reading ahead in my workbook... Done that trick since grammar school. And a couple pages past the columns where we were suppose to list references to whom the angels ministered to, I ran into a little article regarding the following book:
Great. Tears had found me again. It struck me that I had gotten the book hours before I "found out," that this heart-wrenching story had been waiting for me all along. Read the story, of course; it involved a woman who got bad news about her pregnancy at 20 weeks: that her baby would not be compatible with life outside the womb. It was awful, but she had faith.
Now usually, I mean, personally, I don't seek out literature like this. Yeah, stuff like my current blogging. I have enough to worry about usually, as a mom, then to entertain thoughts of disaster. I mean the very first thing I look for when I hear a tragic story regarding a child is a reason this wouldn't happen to me and my family. A reason to make worry needless.
And no, I'm not warming up to saying "this could happen to anybody." That's not exactly true, because... if it's not mysteriously in God's perfect plan for someone, it won't happen to them. Of course, I certainly didn't imagine this would happen to me, or ever think I could "handle" something like this. I don't even think that now. I'm not handling this; I can't. I'm trying to get through it.
Especially today--Good Friday--I am thinking how suffering is sometimes part of God's plan. However I do take some issue with the somewhat popular comment I've heard that "it's probably for the best that this happened when it did." Meaning, I take it, that if something was seriously wrong with Perpetua's health, it might have been better for her to die before birth. But .. that's a real yes and no. Yes, I can see how the longer I knew about and loved and had this baby with me, the more painful it would be to let her go. But... and those who carried babies to term and lost them say this... I wish I could have seen her as she was supposed to be, and held her warm body close. I really, really do. To look into her eyes and have had a better goodbye. Yet even though I didn't get that chance, I am so grateful, and so honored, to have carried her.
I've thought a lot about "carrying" since. Like today at the service, I received communion, getting to "carry" Him for a few minutes, asking Him to fill my great emptiness. Reflecting on Simon helping Jesus carry his cross. How carrying our crosses with His guides us towards salvation. Because yes, Christ opened heaven for us with his death, but our sufferings can be worthwhile too, pushing and pulling us towards our final goal. I can see that with me now... cuz by golly, heaven just got even more appealing to me this week... Even more to love up there now. :)
I really have felt that Christ is carrying my cross with me, and also is carrying... me. Like in pictures of Jesus, if He's not carrying a cross what is He carrying? A sheep! One of us.
True confession time: I stole something. Well, sorta. You know when you get those missionary request mailings that include a (completely unrequested) "gift"; i.e. usually a million return address stickers with a reindeer and your name slightly misspelled? Well, back in like 2005, I got this, attached to a calendar.
Turns out I owe this poor organization about a hundred bucks because I originally ripped open the envelope, said, "ooo good magnet," slapped it on the side of the fridge and forgot about it. (If you have kids and keep a fridge primarily for its artwork display properties, you understand the eternal need for solid magnets.) But a couple years later I actually looked at it, cut off the calendar, and fell in love with it. I love the picture, Christ's expression ("I love this stupid sheep") and the scripture. Yes, I would totally send them a check if I could remember where it came from... and if they stopped sending me a million return address stickers every year for "Mrs. Katy Dancusse."
Anyway. :) One of the biggest things parenthood has done for me is to help me get a better idea of God's relationship with us, and I think that magnet typifies that for me. Christ carries us, His sheep. And the cross for us. And hey, kids can be crosses, no? But we love them so completely anyway, even if they loudly protest the good and reasonable and outstandingly fun plans we have for them, and instead insist on their own absurd ideas of what is really fun: sticking scissors in sockets, throwing rocks downstairs, etc. And we take away the scissors and the rocks, and say no, you can't go on that particular sleepover with the crazy pitbull, and they wail and tantrum that it's sooo unfair. Or like most recently, they become fixated on a display of shiny, empty Easter eggs, not comprehending that you are trying to take them away from Walmart to Chuck E Cheese, and how much better that's going to be.
I'm trying hard to focus on the fact that God must--somehow--have an even better plan for Perpetua and I than I had in mind, as completely inconceivable as that is for this one very upset mommy. Because hey, as much as I do love and do trust Him, I'm upset. I have my moments of really?? Why this way? Why this moment? Why why why? Not that I read the "Crucify Him!" parts of the Gospel today with any personal fervor, but... I'm at the very least, annoyed at my lack of understanding. I want to see this amazing glory my daughter is experiencing, the same that's in store for me. I know I'll get a tiny hint tomorrow at the Easter vigil. I know He has something much better than an empty egg display for me at Walmart. I know I'm meant for Chuck E Cheese. In kiddie language, anyway. Or heck, Disney World. Heaven.
I know we're all on our way there, and I'm grateful I can remember it even in this week of "Good" Fridays. But for now, I find myself in the middle of that most overused "Footprints" poem:
I'm with my Father. But I'm so tired. The beach looks so long from here. This cross is too big. I'm too small for all of this. So I look up to His strength, His love, and His plan and say: