When Being a Successful Christian Means Failing as a Parent
I let my daughter go. I let her go day after day. Right from the first time they wheeled her into surgery, I turned around and walked out of the hospital doors, and went home.
I relistened to my voice notes from those first days, telling our family and friends what was happening. I sound so calm. So measured. I hardly sound like I’m fighting at all.
Why is it that others could pray for my daughter, and I had hardly any words? Why is it that others had the stamina to stay up all night, while I left her and went home to collapse into bed?
I feel like I abandoned her in the fight of her life. Being a mother is supposed to mean my life is tied up with hers. But I feel like I severed that tie. I gave her up to Jesus.
I am like Abraham. Offering up my child on the altar. Unnatural sacrifice. Choosing obedience over parental responsibility.
In those early days I clung to my bible. I carried it around with me everywhere I went. I sat in a huddle on the floor, ignoring the people who gathered to suffocate us with their wet sympathy, just clinging to the Word like a life raft. But in clinging to the raft, I let go of my grip of my child.
Have I failed as I parent? Oh God, I am in agony! Did I do what I was supposed to do?! What did you want from me? Was that enough? Was I enough? Did I at least obey successfully? What were you wanting me to do?
My husband’s heart bleeds when he hears that I’m hurting. He wants to come to me in the hospital immediately and hold me in his arms, but I need to find God’s mind for myself.
In my solitary agony, I reach out to the warriors who pray. The ones who were there. The ones who did more than I did for my daughter. I ask them to pray again.
I am reminded of a battle in full heat. It looks chaotic to the untrained eye, but every man knows his place. Every woman knows her task. In the centre, I stand unarmed. I am not God. I am not doctor. I am not warrior. I am nothing. But I am not nothing. I am the bearer of the white flag. I am the one who decides when we surrender. I am standing tall, doing nothing, saying nothing, but holding up the ensign that says #keephopealive. I am not fighting. I am not sleeping. I am standing.
Fighting smart does not mean not fighting hard. I do not run in to the fray. But I also do not flee. I stand my ground, I hold my line. Like the others on the battlefield, I know my place and my task.
I did not surrender to the enemy. I did not surrender to death. I surrendered to a good and perfect God and, in so doing, displayed his glory. He was glorified before he acted, because the world saw that we knew his goodness. They saw our perfect peace as we trusted in his perfect plan. The calmness in my voice is not failure to fight. It is refusal to panic. He was glorified after he acted, because the world saw his miraculous power.
Richard and I have walked this together, and yet in the darkness of the night we have each had to fight our own battles. We each have to reckon with God and ourselves. Ultimately, we stand before God alone.
And my God is not angry. He is not disappointed. His banner over me is love. He calls me into righteous obedience, and he covers my lack. He reminds me that in choosing him, I choose life. In choosing life, I gain grace. In grace, I find mercy and blessing. Today, his blessing includes seven children. Today, his blessing includes sacred unity of souls with the man I love. His blessings are innumerable.
In choosing God, and letting go, I did not fail or fall short. In choosing God above all, I gained life.
A general and preemptory note for my readers, whom I love:
Against my personality and preference for privacy, I am disclosing my naked soul to you in the hope that it will bring you benefit and God glory. When we bump into each other in person, I love your encouragement and I love your love, but please can we refrain from discussing the details of my exposure? Let’s learn from the wise and trusty gynaecologist... when we bump into him at the rugby, he has the wisdom to at least feign that we have a level of dignity in tact. (A smiley reminder to keep us friends!)
Thank you for your love and your prayers. I will continue to humbly seek counsel from those who know me best, love me most, and hear God’s voice. Or I will seek it from him direct. Thank you for allowing me to be counseled by my King.