The Ache of Reality
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Ache has become a companion of sorts. It is not new to me as I’m sure it is not new to you either. I walked through a dark valley of ache for seven long years, praying for children and saying goodbye to five before we had a chance to know them. But this ache is different. It is not a private sorrow, having minimal bearing on those around me. It has claws that have dug deep into me, right down to my soul. It has turned our life upside down and it is shared by those dearest to me. It has scraped new lines on my face, grayed hairs and knotted my shoulders with its weight.
I ache for my tiny son, fighting for his life in the NICU. He has been a mighty little warrior, enduring two major surgeries and much more trauma in his 3 short weeks than the long lives of most adults I know. He should be warm and safe, growing in my womb with months left to develop all his precious systems. Instead he is in a plexiglass incubator, intubated, monitored, tested, poked and separated from his family with the constant beeps and whirs of medical equipment. And yet I am stunned by his resilience, stamina and bravery. He is a strong boy lifted up by constant prayers from all around the world.
I ache for my young daughters who have been moved away from home, pulled out of all things normal and routine and passed around with family and friends. They cannot understand the gravity of the situation their family has been thrust into. They went from spending nearly all of their time with me to saying goodbye to me every afternoon when I go to the hospital. And yet I am relieved by their flexibility and smiles and willingness to enjoy time with family and friends, freeing us to visit their brother.
I ache for my husband who has carried the heavy burden of caring for, providing for, communicating for, protecting and shepherding our little family through the deepest valley of our lives. I ache as I watch him touch his only son around tubes and wires, singing comfort through tears. Hand in hand, we have climbed the highest peaks and trudged the darkest valleys. He has already borne so much and he now is called to bear this heaviest of burdens. And yet I am comforted by his strength and wisdom as he navigates these stormy waters skillfully and gracefully. He is an anchor for me and a tender pastor for our family.
I ache for normal and routine and regular things like home, neighbors, church, making meals, grocery shopping, our own beds, our beloved pets, our fireplace with warm winter fires, our Christmas traditions and decorations, our record player, our plans and our life. And yet I am grateful for a cozy apartment furnished by loved ones, glowing with the light of a Christmas tree in the living room.
I ache to feel that tiny boy in my belly kicking me and making me ache in other much less painful ways. I ache with regret for the times I complained about the various discomforts of carrying him in my womb. I ache for what was supposed to be a fun last Christmas with the 4 of us and what was going to be our first Spring baby birthday. I ache for the lost 16 weeks I would have spent praying, planning, wondering, naming, preparing and anticipating the birth of our first son. I ache for the simple, regular cesarean birth I had been feeling nervous about. I ache with the memories of the night he was born and the silence of a baby who was too young to cry when he arrived. And yet I am overwhelmed by the many graces of that terrible night and the ways God showed us His mighty hand.
As the days go by, I’m growing accustomed to this ache. My emotions are more stable as I’m learning how to live in this new normal. My mind is calmer as I’m becoming educated in a medical world all new to me. I am resting easier as my darling daughters have resiliently and joyfully embraced our suddenly shifted life. My heart is leaning harder and surer on the Rock of Ages. Just as I carry in my heart the scars of great losses in the valley of the shadow of death in years passed, I will always carry the scars of the deep and wrenching ache of this valley. And yet I know there is sunshine on the other side. I don’t know when those rays will glimmer on our path or what lies between but I know Who made the sun and I know He is faithful. I don’t know if we will have a happy ending to this story but I feel the eternal weight of glory pulling on my soul in the bigger Story. Though weeping may last through the night, joy will come with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
As deep as the ache is, the comfort is deeper still as my Savior leads me. The waves of sorrow unrelentingly crash over me and yet it is well with my soul. I am so grateful for all the countless ways the Father has cared for us and provided for us and surrounded us. I am bolstered by scriptures that were hidden in my heart both in word and in song. I am encouraged by the fellowship and kindness of many, many people - both friends and strangers. I am upheld by the legacy of hymns and psalms and spiritual songs that preach truth to my soul. I am resting in the cleft of the Rock and looking to Him eagerly. Sorrow and joy mingled together.