Sunday, January 17, 2010

Faith Matters

A leader of our church emailed me a few days ago and asked me if David and I would be interested (when we are ready) in sharing our experience about Evie with the church. He said that he felt that our faith would be inspiring to a lot of people who are going through hard times right now. Of course, I would love to be able to share our story with others who are hurting, especially parents who have went through a similar situation.

But, I started thinking about what I would say to a large group (our church is pretty big).

There is so much that I have learned through this experience and my faith has certainly grown, but I would never want to put on the facade of “our faith was so strong that we just breezed through everything…”

Because the truth is… we didn’t.

I didn’t.

In all honesty, I went through a crisis of faith when I found out the news that Evie had a chromosomal disorder; that she most likely wouldn't live long and if she did she would be extremely disabled. I mean, how do you deal when you have been slapped in the face with something that will pull out the very essence of your soul? One moment, you are just working on a nursery and thinking about names, and the next, your heart is broken. Your faith is moved from a pretty, comforting ritual on a shelf to a hard-core “believe or not believe” here is the rest of your life, all-consuming question.

Is God really there? Is He listening to our prayers? Why is this happening?

It wasn’t really that I felt God wasn’t there, I just didn’t know how to feel. Sometimes I thought maybe we were being punished for something, maybe if we had been more faithful this would not be happening. Maybe if I had prayed more, maybe if I wasn’t so impatient and careless, maybe if I had listened to God’s plan instead of my own desires…

It was easy for me to say, “No, not interested” when the doctors asked us if we wanted to “terminate” the pregnancy (multiple times). That was never an issue for me. This was my child, no matter what. I could already feel her kicking and moving all over the place and I already loved her.

But I was scared. I didn’t know how I would be able to handle all the surgeries, all the “unknown” elements of chromosome disorders. Evie’s duplication was large, which meant that her diagnosis was very severe. I didn’t know how I would handle losing her or caring for a child with special needs along with my 3 boys.

I had a lot of very dark moments where I cried and cried, just thinking, "God, I don't think I can handle this…"

...but then I started feeling Him - literally feeling the presence of God, telling me,

“I would never give you something you can’t handle.”

“You will get through this.”

I began to look at the situation through eyes of faith instead of fear.

I prepared for the surgeries, for the therapies and other things we would be investing in. I talked to moms of children with special needs and changed my major to special education so I would be able to do the very best for Evie. I prayed for a miraculous healing, but I was also embracing the fact that God made her different. That we would love her and care for her no matter what issues she had.

Then, on the Thursday that Evie passed, I felt it. I knew she was gone. Just like that, instead of planning surgeries we were planning a memorial service.

And again, I was in shock. I moved through the next 2 weeks like a dream…

But I remember God holding us. He was there in the hospital room; He was there as we took pictures and held our baby girl. He never left us…

And now, if shadows come over me, or pain and unbelief overwhelms me, He is here.

I guess if I wanted to tell our story the right way, I would say that this experience showed me even more that my faith matters.

It isn’t just “church on Sundays” and “a quick prayer before bedtime”

It is a real voice and a light at the end of the tunnel. Having faith doesn’t make you immune… You will hurt and experience tragedies along with everyone else.

But as you are drowning in the storm, there is always someone waiting to pull you out of the water.

Not only to comfort us through tough times, but to guide us through confusing times, and to bless us and help us enjoy the good times.

He is Hope.

He is Love.

And He will always answer when you call.

Isaiah 30:18
(NASB) 18Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.