Well, it's here. July 13. Your due date. Well, what I thought was your due date. But God knew all along the days He planned for you. It's amazing how much expectation can be built in so short a time. I didn't actually expect to be having a baby right now. Both of your big sisters made tardy arrivals. I was hoping that you'd be willing to join us around your Auntie E and Papa A's birthdays in about a week. However, that was not your story. You were here so briefly, and gone so fast. We hardly had time to get used to the idea of your coming before you were already gone. And yet, it doesn't matter. You exist. You are real. You are mine. And every mother loves her children, even the ones she has never laid eyes on.
If I am being honest, what I want to do today, is hide. I want to crawl into a hole of my own, with my knitting and my books and my Netflix subscription and hide. I want to lace up my running shoes and go run until my body hurts and my heart doesn't. I want to hide from the hole that was left in my heart, the cracks that I just can't force to mend. I want to do anything but sit with the pain.
But you, you are with Jesus. You will never have this struggle, this life, this pain. They are unknown to you. You got the golden ticket. You are in His presence for all but a few weeks of your life. You know the things I long to know. As a parent, I should be so happy for you. And I have struggled with this, this idea that you got the best there is, and I selfishly want you here. But if God made us all in His image, than perhaps this struggle of mine is not selfishness. He longs for each of us to be in relationship with Him. He longs for us to be in His presence. He longs for us, His children. And like Him, I long for you, my child.
I wish I could say I'm weathering the storm with grace and perseverance, giving God glory in my pain. But I don't think that has been the case. I feel like I'm being beaten by the elements as I try to force my way past this dark painful section. Recently God has rebuked me for several "unholy fires" I've brought before him. We can just call them what they are, grown up tantrums and bad attitudes. Jennifer Rothschild says in the Bible study I am doing, "Your pain is what God uses to expose the reality that you've been granted and sustained by mercy all along." She also says "...if what we really deserve is hell, then anything else God gives us, or spares us from on this side of eternity is a privilege - even suffering." Ouch. Truth hurts sometimes. But it is good, it is freeing. I rest in His mercy each day. I followed His lead to this place. This place that hurts. I don't know why I am here. I don't know God has written my story this way. And honestly, I still don't like it. What I know is that I have a heavenly father that loves me and wants what is best for me. This same study asked us to choose and memorize a verse from a list pertaining to the goodness and steadfastness of God. My choice was easy. "For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.", Malachi 3:6. So while I flounder, as I push my way forward into the darkness and the elements push against me, I have God's promise that I won't be consumed. He is the same. His mind does not waver, it does not choose what is lesser because it is easier or less painful. He is constant and steady and reliable and longing for us to lean into Him as we navigate every part of our paths.
I wish I had something perkier to tell you on this day. I wish I'd found profound healing and moved past the pain. I wish I was full of joy and peace. I wish I had some amazing revelations about how I'm so tight with God and we're so on the same page. But I'm not. I'm fighting for it. I'm fighting every single day. And I'm waiting on Him.
In the past three weeks the same story from the Bible has been brought to my attention from three different sources. Sometimes we all need to be knocked upside the head. Apparently, in this instance, the someone is me. Earlier this week I was reading in bed when the third instance came up in the book I had started reading, Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole, by Angie Smith. (She's my new BFF, she just doesn't know it yet. I've started hoarding her books like a squirrel at the first sign of frost.) I turned the page to the next chapter and the title woke me right up, "Your Road to Emmaus". Apparently I'm dense, but not so dense that the third mention of the same story doesn't wake me up a bit. She says "I did a little word study and found that the name Emmaus means 'warm springs,' and that these springs were frequently used for healing purposes. So I began to picture two people walking toward "healing" instead of to just some random biblical location." (You can read the full story in Luke 24, starting with verse 13.)
I paused. I thought about this story that I had read and explained three times in one day to three different classes of children at Vacation Bible School. (The irony of the fact that I taught it, not once, but three times, and didn't catch it, is not lost on me. Again, knock me upside the head Lord!) I thought about how these two men walked seven miles with Jesus without recognizing Him. They were His disciples. They spent years at His side. Yet, they did not know Him. They were consumed by the pain and disillusionment of the crucifixion and of finding His tomb empty. They thought He was the Son of God who had come to save the world, but He died. He let them kill Him. What kind of all powerful God does that? He didn't act the way they thought He would. He didn't deliver them the way they thought He would. He wrote a different story than the one they had in mind.
They were limited by their humanity. So am I. Not much of this life makes sense. The story that I've got in mind more often doesn't come to pass. God's ways are His ways. He is not limited by humanness. I am. I am so very limited. And I have been just like those disciples. Blinded by my pain, I have become disillusioned, blinded, and even a bit bitter. My God didn't do what I thought He would. He didn't write my story the way I wanted, the way I would have.
Now, I am not the most patient parent when it comes to re-teaching something I've been trying to drive home for what feels like forever. If I were Jesus here I would be tempted to say something not very nice to these disciples. But He didn't. He used those seven miles to teach them everything that was prophesied about Himself, again. Everything. Can you imagine? What a gift He gave to them! Oh, but what a gift He gives to each of us as He walks our road with us. Even as I am busy stoking unholy fires in His presence, He is patiently walking with me and teaching me about Himself. He is writing my story the way it should be written. I am so very thankful that He isn't an impatient parent like me. I am so very thankful that He doesn't allow me to write my own story. He has a better one in mind. I know that He is trustworthy. Even if I don't feel like this is true, I have His word. I have the truth. Feelings often lie. God never does.
I will keep fighting through the darkness, the wind, the rain and whatever else is beating me back as I walk my road to Emmaus. I have His promises. I won't be consumed. He is walking this road with me, even if I can't see Him or understand what is happening. The path right now is dark, it's difficult, I can barely see to put one foot in front of the other. But, God is constant, steady, reliable and right by my side. I will not be consumed. I will continue on. My healing will come. One day Ruby, one day, my path will lead to you. What a beautiful day that will be.