Does your head ever swim with questions? Mine does. I have been noticing the passage of time with other bloggers that I have been reading for a long time now, five, six years. Babies are children, little children are bigger children, and soon those bigger children will be off living their lives and a whole new set of blogging stories will follow.
Noticing that caused me to reflect on the beginning of my blog. I had just come back from my first mission trip to Colombia, it was one of those life changing, "aha" experiences. I came back knowing without a doubt how rich we are here. We have so much, such an excess of material goods. We have clothes that get thrown away with tags on them. Clothes that get tossed because they aren't in fashion anymore, or in my case because I have outgrown them. Outgrowing clothes at my age is also excess, a sign of abundance. We have so much food so many choices. How many kinds of cereal can they make? I saw so many children in one item of clothing or a pair of underwear. When you see in real life people who have little or nothing this waste we participate in is ugly, it indicts the conscience.
When is the last time you had to make a purchase of something important like a washer or dryer, a computer , or a TV, how complicated is THAT? When my washer died it was so overwhelming I bought another one just like mine, second hand. Don't get me wrong I had been waiting a long time to get a new fancy machine. Washing machines are like the cereal isle on steroids. I just tilted. No comprende. I'm thankful that I didn't purchase a fancy machine, the $100 second hand Maytag has been working fine now for years. The goal is clean clothes, right?
As I look back I can see that God started something in Colombia that didn't end when I came home. Two other mission trips later, God closed the door on short term trips and I sat down to wonder. When I stopped being able to work at the hospital I was totally confused. Wasn't I living a good godly life? Slowly God has been revealing to me that my life itself is a mission trip.
"We are supernatural beings living in a natural world". Someone smarter than me said that. I can't remember who but I remember what was said. We are on a journey, an adventure and so much like little hobbits we choose to love our comforts and homes; or step out the door and go on an adventure. There really are adventures everywhere around us. What I'm finding is my adventures are not glamorous or exciting but they are important. When I wake up and give the Lord my day he brings people into my life that need something that I can give. Lately God has been using every skill I possess. I was so busy for awhile that I asked for some rest and received it. BUT even as I rested a part of me did not want the rest; the part that knew I was missing something wonderful.
I went down to the inner city of Jackson, our ghetto. I went to be a part of Hands &Feet, the clothing ministry and after that the Bible study. I went to meet with whoever God wanted me to meet. I went to smile and share love. I went to hug and to touch. I went to give.
I was paired with a young mother who just lost her little infant son to SIDS.
When I learned it was her, my breath snatched and my heart grabbed hard in my chest with the hurt of it. As we shopped together I gently asked her about her life. She told me about her little girl and we picked some cute things for her. I asked her about herself and she said she was just trying to hang on. That's when I told her that I knew of her little one. I asked her about her feelings and thoughts.
I told her about our baby. My first little grandson that was 4 months old and died at Christmas. My precious little boy that was shared with me every day of his sweet life. I had given him his first bath. I held him and loved him every single day of his life except for his last. I know about second guessing and driving yourself crazy with "what ifs." We talked and really shared. I know she knew I really cared about her. That I knew first hand what aching arms are, how you wake up and your first thoughts are confused like a bad dream that this can't be real, but it is. Then your eyes that are red and swollen and sore from crying squeeze out fresh tears and they sting, but you cannot help it, that river of tears seems like it will never dry up.
I share that my Joshua would be 24 and that when I cried for her Leroy, it was crying for Joshua and somehow I have kept on, but there will always be tears for him. He was the firstborn, born in our home, cradled in our arms, and fully loved with all our hearts. Other babies did not replace him. Other babies brought their own joys, but their is no replacement for a unique created being.
I like to imagine that my mother cares for Joshua in heaven. My mom was such a great baby lady. After being angry with God and feeling like he had given me too much, it finally came down to that simple idea. Please God let my mama hold my baby. Once I imagined him in her arms comforting as they are and all the kisses and cooing he would have and his little smiles back at her, it began to heal my heart. We all have our own way of dealing with grief. I needed a picture to replace the last picture. I could not let holding that little lifeless body be my last thoughts. Losing a baby is an opportunity to go insane. That door opens and with just a little nudge one can step inside and just let go. It takes effort to resist, reality is a painful intolerable place full of questions and sorrow. I don't wish it on anyone. If you can judge me and say that Jesus should have been enough then I forgive you, you have not lost a baby. We cannot say what is enough for someone. Our grief is our own, it is unique and shared and a journey we must travel through. There is no safe escape. Ultimately God is enough but at the time it is a struggle.
What good can come of something like this? Why does God let this happen?
Well, God is God and he knows more than I can even begin to wonder at. I'm not being trite, I can't explain it. I can only share my own story and say that I had to have simple answers. I really didn't care about the answers to the human condition. I wanted to remain sane and I needed something simple to hold onto, something real. I found those answers in Jesus.
What I do know is that God never wastes our suffering. If we allow it he will use it to comfort others. If we allow it he will use it to deepen our faith and show us more about who we are and who he is. Because I have walked in that valley I will walk with this young mother as far as she wishes. I will walk as shallowly or as deeply as she needs. If my wounds need to reopen to bleed with hers I will do it, because I know, they are already bleeding.
Every day isn't like this, digging deeply into life's hurts, but each encounter has given me a keen awareness of the Lords hand upon my life. By simply being available he has been directing me all over this town. He places someone on my mind and I call them= they have a need I can fill. Or a friend will know someone who they want me to talk too, and on it goes. Life can be so full on mission. We are all on mission, we just don't live that way. We are all created with a plan for our lives, a custom plan by God himself with a purpose, a future and HOPE. It's so awesome and from day to day more gets taken and more gets added and nothing feels the same. As I look back and reflect and question, I wonder what has taken me so long? How much longer is it going to take?