Friday night we fought sleep and selfish hearts as we rocked ... and rocked and rocked and rocked ... our fussy baby for what seemed like (and was) hours. It was a hard night, thankfully one of only a handful we've really had since the very early newborn days. I think we're pretty lucky as far as fussiness goes - but then, this is the first baby we've had, so we don't really know.
It is a privilege every day to wake up to her chubby cheeks and just-now-turning-blue eyes, blue eyes like her mama's and her daddy's, blue eyes that seem to hold our entire world in their blueness.
I have a friend who likes to say, "motherhood is sanctifying." I can think of nothing closer to the truth these days, these days dulled by quietness and rhythm, and punctured by cries that bounce of the blue walls of our house and land like bombs directly on the carefully constructed idols of perfection that guard my heart.
I like to fix things. I like to find out what's wrong, rationalize the pain/suffering/brokenness, and then I like to fix.
My mom pointed this out to me last week when we were home, and Ellie Rose had started fussing up a storm at seeming all hours of day and night. To google I went, and I searched and I read and I wondered and I searched some more. "I think this is it!" I said. "Infant fussiness peaks between 6-8 weeks. That must be what's going on," I rationalized.
My mom smiled.
"How did you ever parent without google?" I wondered out loud.
She smiled again.
"You can research too much, you know." She said. "Sometimes babies are just babies."
But when my baby cries and I can't figure out what's wrong, when the usual tricks don't lull her to sleep, when her reflux flares up and she cries out in pain and then cries even harder while I give her her medicine, I feel like it's me that has failed.
When we were first home from the hospital, Price prayed over us one night, our new little family. And he prayed that we would not try to fix our baby from being a baby. It was profound and prophetic, and it's something I still have to pray every day.
It's not just with Ellen, either. I like for there to be a reason for suffering and sadness, if those things have to exist at all. I don't like to think that it just happens, the result of brokenness in the world that we can't control. If I hear a sad news story, I research it more - trying to find the action that caused the sadness, to rationalize it away. When friends or family are sad and there's nothing I can do about it, I disconnect.
Sometimes things are so broken and unfair and there's no fixing them. And I don't like those things. I struggle to enter into that brokenness. I don't know how to deal with it. Numbness takes over and freezes out not only the sad, but the joy. If it can't be fixed, numbness is the next best thing. Because then I don't fail. But the sad isn't always mine to fix, or sometimes it just can't be done.
When we were preparing for parenthood, we went to a class at Covenant where the professor stressed that we are to love our children the way God loves us, to live out his love in a tangible way so that they may see him and know him.
I remembered that the other day, when we were driving in the car and Ellie started screaming. Just all-out, top of her lungs, the world is ending screaming. And I smiled at her, scrunched up in the back next to her car seat, in the glow of headlights shining in the raindrops dancing down our windows. I smiled because I knew she was frustrated and sad, but I knew it would be ok. We would make it home. I would feed her, change her dirty diaper, and snuggle her to sleep.
But she didn't know that, and she didn't understand my smiles or my whispers that it would all be ok, that I knew what she needed and I had a plan to take care of it.
And that's when it hit me, that at least at this stage of our lives, this is what it means to love like God loves us ... and that this is how God loves me every day. He sees the brokenness. He sees my friends with utterly broken hearts, and he knows I don't know what to do or say other than "why?" and "help." He sees the fears that keep me up at night, the idols that keep me a safe distance from him. He sees me kicking and screaming, fighting, fearing.
But he loves me, he knows what I need, and he has a plan to take care of it.
One day, we'll make it home. Everything will be ok. But in these quiet, desperate days, I just want answers and the ability to fix. And there aren't always answers or rationalizations. I don't always have the ability to fix. So I'm praying for the faith to trust the One who does.
"There is good news, there's a promise that no matter where you go, you will never be alone.
In the dark, in the doubting, when you can't feel anything, oh his love remains the same.
As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night, his mercy will not end."
Ellie Holcomb, As Sure as the Sun