“You will miss that old season one day,” said one of the friends who’d prayed with me for years for Him to come and open my womb, when I told her the news that He had.
She was right.
He is folded up inside of me, this answer of God. He stirs against my frame (which feels like it couldn’t possibly stretch any more to hold him) and he, now, keeps me up at night as my organs make space for him. Though I don’t hear his cries, he is as real to me as my own pulse.
This promise still warms inside of me, giving me time to consider the season I just left.
The fourth floor at Martha Jefferson hospital became just as much of a tease to me as baby socks strung across a fireplace and friends sharing stories — ones they’d never shared with me in private, but could in this group of sisters who’d been initiated into something so unfamiliar to me, and who were now initiating another. Baby bumps on Facebook sunk my heart, heavy in my chest at unsuspecting moments.
Some days I did everything I could to avoid the feeling of my lack (cause isn’t that what we do with lack?). Something about staring into another’s story — one which gave them good reason to believe that He was good to them — made mine all the more painful.
And baby showers were my trigger.
It was as if I was foisted into a line-up of others who were being picked, knowing that I’d be the last one standing. Every time. The reproach I was able to skirt or bury deep, most days, would be right out there there for me to examine.
I’d always known that He was by nature “good”, but my real question was: Is He good … to me?
When forced to look at room full of women who were celebrating what I didn’t have — many of whom had experienced that for which I had desperately prayed — I couldn’t run away from this question.
So when it was time for my own baby shower — a place to celebrate this little promise that now has a heartbeat and fingernails and eyelashes — a dozen drives to friends’ homes, when I had coached myself on the way there and cried to Him on the way home, came back to me. He formed me in those days that marked my lack. He had a close hold on me.
Every detail of the shower had been delicately constructed.
We drank mint-flavored water in stemmed glasses and ate tomato-basil appetizers on skewers. We sang. We prayed. We laughed over all the unfiltered things my children had divulged about our home-life since this baby had come into the picture. “Mommy used to read to us all the time. But then, she would only read half a book to us and then go upstairs and throw up. That’s how we knew she was pregnant.“
I drove home without tears, this first baby shower where I didn’t leave with that internal wrestling.
The season was over.
I didn’t absorb it until the next day.
I stood in church and sang the words about this spring rain that waters the earth and I began to realize, in the way where realization moves from mental assent to a heart attachment, that my two days in the grave had ended.
He had torn me. For nearly a decade I felt the jagged edge of my skin, torn against what I’d hoped He would surface in my circumstances. For nearly a decade I’d fought to believe the truth that He was good — to me — even when my circumstances wanted to allure me otherwise. For nearly a decade I grew on the inside while what was on the outside appeared to have been stalled.
For nearly a decade, He heard my cries in the dark. And He treasured them.
Though dark days will likely come again, He’ll never hear my barren cry again. Though the promise of trouble in this earth will still weave its way into my story, He’ll never hold those particular tears, shed as I said — out loud — you are good to me, God over the dashboard, on the way home from another baby shower, while my heart didn’t feel it. The secret conversation where I bled words to Him in the elevator on the way down from another 4th-floor newborn visit to Martha Jefferson hospital has ended.
To Him, those days where He held the broken body that I just barely dragged to His feet weren’t days in the grave. They were my birth place. Love was birthed in the decade (which, to Him, was two days time) when I died on the outside but I gave my very-weak and barely-there self to Him for Him to hold.
So now, when it’s my baby’s name strung across the alcove with onesies and bibs and baby socks, I can’t help but ask: Daddy, can we salvage more of my pain-filled minutes for Your holding?
When she melts down, as we’re walking out the door for a meeting, and the dishwasher breaks and I hear that little guy yell, loud, from the first floor at the only one in the house with whom he shares a bloodline … can those be our minutes, too, Daddy? When I feel pressed with all the demands of life and motherhood and then I remember I’m a wife and friend, too … will you hold me then, again? When I take sips of those age-old fears and worst-case scenario expectations … can I climb into your lap, Daddy?
This grave of ours is the birthplace for a love for Him that I’m not quite sure can be birthed anywhere else. He didn’t just love me, here. Here is where I got to give Him love.
What if these two days of mine in the grave — and my response to them — were the very ones across the whole span of my life that made Him most marvel?
No matter how big the grave — yours, mine as it was, or mine in the everyday — it was made for His holding.
And He loves to hold his broken babies.
For Your Continued Pursuit: Hosea 6:1-3 | John 16:33 | Matthew 8:5-13 | Psalm 147:3 | Psalm 34:18