When the Night is Long {And let me introduce you to Bo}

He’s here.

Boaz, whom we mostly call “Bo”, made himself a Hagerty with an entrance that was nearly a week late according to the calendar — but just on time for our standards. Apparently we Hagertys like it late.

I have cried every day since his birth.

Hormone surges and declines, combined with this tiny miracle that has a heartbeat and turns his head when he hears the voice he’s been listening to for the months my eyes didn’t see him would have been enough to keep me teary-eyed, but his indoctrination into the world has left me using those middle-of-the-night feedings to cry before God.

“Hagerty Birth Plan” read the two-page typed document in our file. We took an eight-week class and read chapters from birthing books to each other at night and typed all those bullet points detailing our wishes for the day. We lived like our former selves and treated this child like he was the fetus, conceived the first day we’d picked — the first day we’d tried — who would come according to our plan.

Decade of pain? Over. Check!

There is something in me that continues to migrate towards easy, as if after all these years I still believe easy is better. For a long time, “easy” was the round-bellied mama whose children were ages 2, 4, 6, and 8. She came by motherhood naturally — and I had a hard fight for it. She was one-dimensional to me, then. (We can get good at minimizing the story of another in light of what’s easy for them and hard for us, can’t we?)

And ease was my goal.

I began to find Him, however, in the night that felt too long and too dark. The night became the blanket that cloaked my secret conversations with Him. This God of light met me when the sun set and my story wasn’t easy. He showed Himself to be better than ease.

Dark Candle MJ

But something in me is still allured into thinking that ease-of-life is “favor” and there’s no place for the long night. I don’t even realize these subconscious thoughts until I’m offered another long night.

This time, His invitation was literal.

This tiny person gave signals of his coming and my body began to twist and turn with the pangs of childbirth that I expected to last for hours, not days. One night bled into two and the plan we’d made didn’t matter anymore. Two nights turned into three and I began to wonder if this holy breakthrough (which I’d called it for ten months) would end in bodies, broken.

In the middle of one of those long nights I was a mess.

I had flashbacks to the time I slept on the rigid furniture of a hospital waiting room wondering if my dad — who we just learned was fraught with cancer — would make it to see the morning. I remembered the car ride to a work meeting where I swallowed down tears from the conversation the night before — we’d decided to put our adoption on hold at the encouragement of others because we weren’t ready to pursue two hearts when ours were still so obviously severed.

These and other memories like them of earlier long nights weren’t a part of our bulleted birth plan. I thought I’d be strong, primed for this kind of event. I didn’t expect to cave in my mind.

Retrospective pain can look beautiful and rich-with-meaning and even tidy, but many times the long night — when you’re wedged right in the middle of it — feels motionless, void. Those nights my frame made way for Bo, with uncertainty in heart and body-wracking pain, I was reminded.There is purpose, even in the longest night that doesn’t yet feel like it has a streak from Him.

Those minutes we wait on His coming, when all the earth around us seeks to agree with the lie of our hearts that says He’s just not near, are, also, holy.

Lantern

The pitch-black night is His to hold.

And it’s ours to share. With Him.

The God of the universe bends low to share His long night with us.

We live our own versions of Gethsemane — tapered and tempered by His gentle hand, but dark and long to us, nonetheless — all as a part of this crazy fellowship that He offers.

The me who wants a life of ease is also the me who doesn’t always see that I follow a God who leads — not by dictatorship, but that He shares. He didn’t just “put on flesh”, once, to show humanity that He has a heartbeat. He offers hundreds of opportunities across your lifespan and mine for us to know His heart by holding it with our lives and our stories.

My long night, that lasted nearly a decade — the decade that revisited me in the long nights before Bo broke out of my body — wasn’t any less significant when I didn’t feel Him or see His light breaking in. He gave me a portion of His Gethsemane so that I would know a portion of His sorrow. Though the third day overshadowed it, that long night held, too, hues of His heart. Even before the sun broke.

Sunrise MJ

That long, dark night told the story of a Man whose heart busted open before His body did and bled and wept before He rose.

And my long, dark nights — void of feeling and perspective and full of awkward uncertainty — position me to “stay here and watch” with Him.

There is a piece of Him that we can only get when the night is long.

+++

And sometimes, on the third day, there’s this:

Bo & Mommy

And this:

Bo Bed

And this:

Bo Muscle Man

Yep, we’re crazy about Him. The Africans, Nate and me — we love our Bo.

Bo & Lily

 

“Your life tells a story” I sang to him today. (Off-key.)

Bo & Mommy 2

For Your Continued Pursuit: John 15:15 | John 16:33 | John 14:27 | John 17:24 | Matthew 26:36-46

First, second, and third photos compliments of Mandie Joy. Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth photos of Cherish Andrea Photography. (Can you even believe these photos?! My sweet friend Cherish captured the best of this little man.)

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