What We Need When the News is Hard
I shared the news of Nathaniel aspirating with Rich by sending him the photo of the green gunk on Nathaniel's shirt. I had no words to soften the message. He had only one word back, "Sad."
I left the clinic and got on the elevator. A doctor in a white coat was already there. Nathaniel burst into tears and started to kick his legs aggressively while turning in the stroller to reach me. This is often his response to seeing someone in a white coat. Especially moments after an invasive painful test. The doctor moved to the far corner of the elevator away from us. "I am not going to hurt you," he said to Nathaniel. "I will not even look at you." He turned his back to us, his face to the corner, and remained quiet for the three floor ride. It was what Nathaniel and I needed. It was perceptive and kind on the doctor's part. It was a gift from God. God has continued to meet me moment by moment since yesterday's test.
If fact He prepared me Sunday morning for discouraging news this week. To simplify meeting our travel companion, we worshiped at the church she attends. The sermon was on perseverance in prayer. The application points applied to perseverance in general. The notes I made on the sermon are an outline to guide my heart and actions today.
A friend showed up at the Ronald McDonald House just a few hours after the test. She spent until early evening walking and sitting beside me as I cared for Nathaniel. I talked continuously. Though she didn't point it out, I am sure I said some stuff more than once. She listened well, made connections to previous things I had mentioned, and shared analogies to her own life. She is a runner and just completed a marathon on Saturday. At one point in the race, she experienced a great deal of leg pain and throbbing. She had to decide, while staying in the race, how to manage the unexpected difficulty. She explained how she had to quickly modify her effort, change her expectations for the race, and seek help. She helped me brainstorm how Rich, the family, and I can do those same things in our marathon of caring for Nathaniel. A gift of time and presence and clear thinking when my own was jumbled and disorganized.
Two different men named Andrew sent me personal messages last night. One message was from my son wanting advice on some leather work he had done. I needed the reminder that there is more to my life than caring and advocating for Nathaniel. The other message was from a medic explaining how Nathaniel's story had benefited a child in need of emergency care. I needed the perspective that God's purposes for Nathaniel's life include healing, but also kingdom purposes and bringing about His goodness in the lives of others.
I woke up just before five this morning and opened my bible reading app. For the last year, I have used the She Reads Truth reading plans. This week the focus is on hymns. I love when the writers take a break from themed studies or books of the bible for a week of dwelling on traditional hymns. Today's hymn? "Take My Life and Let it Be." The accompanying verses? Isaiah 6:8, Philippians 1:20-21, Romans 12:1. All the scripture, like the words of the hymn, were a reminder that what I really want is to lay down my life for God's use. While we didn't know the full course of the race before adoption, (we still don't), we knew enough about Nathaniel's needs that it was a conscious decision to give God our middle aged, empty nest years to caring for an orphan. The readings were a gift; they were what i needed this morning to ground me again in eternal truths and call on my life.
Another Missouri friend, also the mother of a special needs child, spent over an hour on the phone with me this morning trouble shooting how to put the "seek help" advice from the marathon runner into place. Her time was also a gift.
I took time this afternoon to read sweet notes of support, encouragement, and prayer on social media, email, and text. Each kind word is a gift from God that soothes and helps to heal our sad hearts.
Rich has received immediate encouragementas well through meeting with one of our pastors after work tonight. Though we are away from each other, God is leading our hearts in the same direction. There is peace and calmness when we do have a few minutes to connect.
I don't share these experiences as a sugar coated "God works all things together for good..." answer to yesterday's news. While I believe that verse, its perspective is to high and distant today. At today's level of life, the news is hard. There is discouragement and sadness and at times the temptation to feel that we just can not run another mile. There is honesty and tears and a lack of words for a husband who knows the struggle more intimately than anyone. It is a day where assurance and support needs to have hands and feet and ears and heart. And God provides... A doctor to give Nathaniel and me privacy. A friend to listen well. Two Andrews to reach out to me a bedtime with words that brought peace and purpose. The writers of the reading plan to pick a specific hymn and verses that encourage. A fellow mom to transition ideas into plans. Many people who use social media for good. The pastor who arranged last week to meet Rich today. When the news is hard, God works through people to bring peace, contentment, and hope. It is because we know the nature of God that we can stay in the race. It is through God's strength that we rise up to love more.
Photo above is my friend's arm and motivation as she ran her marathon last Saturday.