I had great plans for this month. January is Emma’s birthday month and I planned to share a myriad of Emma stories and lessons I learned from her five years of life.
But something else happened. Something I didn’t fully expect, even though this dance of grief and hope has been the rhythm of my life for quite some time.
Sometimes looking at her smiling face makes me feel sad, nostalgic, even. I long to see her, to hold her, to clutch her tight . . . but those feelings don’t always cut me to the core like it did this year.
This year, remembering hurt. A lot. So I did what I’ve learned is best: I tended to my pain-filled heart. I created space to be near those who love me well, to weep as I thought about all I lost, and simply sat still, allowing the gracious comfort of our loving Father wash over those bruised places . . . again.
But there was a moment as I sat looking at her baby picture where I wondered if Jesus ever got tired of me feeling sad, if he ever got frustrated as I traveled back to the deepest hurt and asked him to comfort my mama’s heart one more time.
I would. Well, sometimes I do, get frustrated I mean. That those memories sneak in and wreak havoc on my peace. That those words, said out of spite and pain, still chip away at my hope. That I still feel irritated when the world doesn’t slow down and allow me room to grieve. Again.
As I sat in the stillness of sorrow, I began to realize my irritation was actually rooted in fear. Fear that somehow, at some point, I might come to the end of my comfort quota Jesus set for me. That if he saw just one more tear, it would send him over and he’d throw up his hands and say . . . That’s enough!
I stayed in that place for a bit last week. I faced that fear and asked God to reveal His truth in its midst because I knew he was good. My head told me that what I felt was a lie, but I didn’t know how to line my feelings up with the truth I knew.
So I invited Him into that moment, and He answered with a sweet memory from my precious girl’s life.
Emma developed jaundice soon after she was born. The solution? Light therapy. The problem? I kind of freaked out.
We were able to treat her at home through what I affectionately called “the suitcase”, but only if we kept 24-hour watch so she didn’t squirm her way down where the light could hit and damage her eyes.
I was hormonal. Exhausted. Weary. Frustrated. And scared. A horrible recipe to go into pulling an all-nighter or two.
There came a moment when I arrived at the end of myself. The end of my strength, my sanity, my control. It was the middle of the night, that darkest moment, and Emma wouldn’t stop crying. I was exhausted and my heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest as I longed to snuggle her close. I felt helpless and scared and unsure. That’s when I cried out to Jesus.
I remember praying for Emma’s dad when he suffered a debilitating stroke shortly after we were married. After surviving the initial attack, there was still danger of his brain swelling. I remember praying and picturing Jesus sitting beside him, gently stroking the top of his head, much like a mother does to calm her child during a bad dream. My prayer was answered and the swelling subsided.
I thought since Jesus answered my prayer before, he might hear my prayer for Emma, as well.
So I prayed. Again. In my mind’s eye, I pictured Jesus in our rocking chair, gently rocking Emma and snuggling her close. I prayed as peace poured over my newborn and God calmed her fears. I prayed for comfort, for calm, and for rest.
I prayed, but in all honesty, I begged. I begged God for an abundance of healing and comfort for Emma, for my family, for those I loved.
It was as I begged God for comfort that I felt a stirring in my heart. As I pictured Jesus rocking her and she began to calm down, I sensed Him say . . . there’s enough here for you, too.
Seventeen years have passed since that moment and I still remember the swell of hope and uncertainty that clutched at my heart.
But if I rested, who would watch over everyone?
If I stopped praying, who would protect my baby?
If I sat down and closed my eyes, what would happen if something else bad occurred? Who would see it?
I was so used to caring for others that I wasn’t sure how to accept his peace and comfort for myself. In that darkest night, I wondered if there would be enough comfort for both me and my little baby. And it was in that darkest night where I sensed God’s whisper there is enough.
Enough space. Enough comfort. Enough love.
God reminded me of this precious lesson through the life of my little girl last week. Instead of throwing his hands up in disgust as he saw my tears again, twelve years after my sweet girl died, he opened them wide and declared I have enough.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” Lamentations 3:22, NLT
“You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” Psalm 71:21, NLT
“The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins.” Isaiah 51:3a, NLT
“God bless those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4, NLT