Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Heaven has in store what thou has lost ...
I often feel that this is the time that I should recap on what the last year has taught us, but it seems this year there just aren’t words. They are plenty of them in my head, but I can’t make them out here into anything that would make even the slightest sense to most of you.
We learned a lot about the joy found in suffering for the sake of Christ. It’s something I’ve probably mentioned before, but also something that, looking back, seems the focus of most talks between the two of us. At the end of last summer Kevin told me that what I was seeking was a place where I could look at all that happened, including the ugly horrible details (like the moment that sweet young man grabbed my hand and asked me if I'd allow one of children to die to save the other - for the life of me I have no clue what his name was, but the sadness I found in his dark brown eyes is unfortunately embedded in my brain), and say “it’s okay God. You’re the same today as you were before. It is for Your glory. If I must suffer & grieve to build Your kingdom – it’s okay that you allowed this.” He was right (as he usually is with this stuff). Ya see, last summer was hard for us, and somewhere in the midst of it I realized that just maybe I was holding a little grudge against my God for what had happened. It was hidden deep, and I am still working it out. Bitterness is an ugly thing and I never ever want it to take root inside me, so when I feel it approaching (with questions of why’s or ponderings of details I have no business resting in) I do my best to not dwell there (sometimes with success, sometimes not). Anyway, Kevin presented me with the hypothetical question of: if I were standing at the gates of heaven and I had the power to allow a turned away soul entry to heaven by enduring suffering of my own here on Earth, would I do it … ? Would you? I mean, is God really asking this of us? Will I give my daughters for a strangers place in eternity? Would I give my husband? My hopes? My pride? It’s not a comfortable place. And while I don’t believe God “did this” to us (I believe we live in a very sad, fallen world & bad stuff happens), I do believe that He allowed it all, and in the same breath I want to say “It’s okay” and “I am still falling more deeply in love with You”.
Anyway, I am totally rambling, and I doubt it’s clear to you …
About a month ago, as Mother's Day approached, I felt the stress and ugliness rising inside of me, and rather then turning my back to it, like I so often do, I was feeling urged to face it head on. I left work early, drove to the cemetery, cried as the lady rang up my over-priced flowers, and drove to our spot. As I walked to the headstone of my daughters I begged God to make something beautiful of the awfulness. I sat down and wept. For an hour. And I was very aware of the fact that me being there had very little to do with Grace & Olivia and more to do with me and my God and the experience of Grace & Olivia. Then I began to read Psalms. At first to myself, and then aloud. For another hour. I prayed for us and for all the people who had somehow turned a cemetery into a garden with all of the beautiful, beautiful flowers laid on top of the little knees they will never get to kiss. When I finally stood up to leave I noticed a security guard pulling up, and my first thought was “great, they’re after the crazy lady sobbing out scripture in the baby section” (he wasn’t, but it was still humorous in my mind). That night Jason was telling me how his lunch time bible study was on Job and how the last few days resonated with him. I told him that as a teenager I always thought it was pretty sucky that God allowed Job’s children to be taken away, but then thought it would all be better when he blessed him with a “new” family, like one could just replace the other. I have a better understanding now. There’s no replacing, just molding. I never thought it would represent my life. Anyway, I tell you all of this to tell you that that day was one of the most amazing days of my life. The tears streaming down my face made it almost impossible to read His word, yet the sounds of David praising our God were coming out of my mouth. And it was a complete joy. Beauty for ashes. Acceptance without understanding. There are moments when you know God is sitting right next to you, and you just want to breathe in the moment, the stillness - and hold onto it for as long as possible. That day I invited God to intimately grieve with me, all over again.
In no other form of this life do I believe that my daughters should be here today (that's not saying I don't wish they were here sometimes). I feel … no, I know … that God ordained their days (in the womb and the 1 on earth). What “should have” happened did. And now I have the responsibility to take their voice and their weight and share it with anyone who will listen. More so, I have the privilege of begging you to ask God to meet you right where you are today. The ugliness and the pain and the tears and the anger and the crazy lady sitting at the cemetery, He longs to be intimate with that.
I always thought that I would never understand any of this while here on Earth. I imagined arriving in heaven to a God who would say “Look, this is what I did and this is what your suffering was worth”. And I’ve imagined how glorious it would all look. But never, in a billion years did I ever envision that I would get glimpses of it here. And I have. I do. I can grasp some of it. But there’s still a lot of work to be done. The scars are full of worth, as were the scars in Jesus' hands that remained after His resurrection.
So, what do you do with a day like June 4th? We’re not really sure yet, but this year decided to splurge at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Resort. As you’re reading this I hope to be either in a mud bath with my husband or on a massage table under oaks. And I will thank Him for all of the amazing moments of those days, and I will thank Him for the ugly moments as well, the moments my memory refuses to forget, trusting that someday they will be redeemed.
Happy 3rd birthday, our precious little girls!