After I lost one child, I have had to fight the temptation to smother my remaining child with my worry.
One of our first nights back at home, I sat beside Abby’s bed, watching her breathing late into the night. “What if something happens while she’s sleeping and she doesn’t wake up in the morning?” I worried. And then, a little bitterly, to God: “Now that I know that you are willing to take a child away from me, how will I ever be able to let her out of my sight?”
I found myself in a scary and uncomfortable new world: one where I was face-to-face with my complete inability to control and protect myself or my loved ones. I could not save Sam, who lived safe in my belly under my constant supervision and care. How much less could I protect Abby, who lets go of my hand in parking lots and forgets to count before she jumps into the pool, who dives down stairs and climbs on top of tables?
Of course, what I had failed to ever acknowledge before was the fact that God alone sustains life. Whether she is sitting quietly in a chair or perched on top of the tallest slide at the park, Abby gets one more breath because God wills it. And despite what I like to believe, God never made me any promises how many breaths she gets before the one that is her last.
She is not mine.
Stephen is not mine.
My parents and siblings are not mine.
If God gives me another baby, he or she will not be mine, either.
It’s really hard for me to accept that. I want to believe that if I am good and try hard, God will act within the boundaries I set for him. But what is true is that God is writing a story that is a lot more complicated than I can understand. It’s more beautiful than I realize. And it’s definitely bigger than what I can see.
I still buckle my seatbelt and teach Abby to look both ways before crossing the street. Stephen and I are eating more carrot sticks and less cake. In other words, we’re still living as if we’ve got a lot more time on this earth in these bodies.
But I’m more aware than ever that health, comfort, life itself–these are gifts, not entitlements. I can hold my hands open and let God give and take as he sees fit, or I can close my fists around what is “mine.” It won’t change what happens to me, it just makes it harder to receive and more painful to give up when the time comes.
My daily challenge is to live as if I believe the verse we proclaimed when we named Samuel Job: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”