She tucked a few strands of red hair behind her ear and bent low, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Gentle words streamed sweetly over me, and I curled in a ball of pain in my bed.
Earlier I had been trying to help her with a friendship bracelet she was making. We were almost to a good stopping point, and the aches I had been experiencing from chemo turned unbearable. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t sit. I dropped the bracelet I was holding and burst into tears, “I can’t, baby. I just can’t.” I knew it would make her cry. “Please don’t cry about this,” I begged her frantically. “I’ll help another day.” I knew her disappointment, and she cried. And I curled up on the couch in the next room and cried in my pain… for her pain.
Brian and I ended up getting into an ugly spat… my unrealistic expectations vs. his lack of attentiveness. Isn’t it always this way? How pain blinds us to the team we are? Forcing us to be intentional and really work at things that were once easy?
I had to go upstairs to bed and just walking up the stairs was a chore.
You know when you have the flu, and everything in your body hurts to move? That is what I was experiencing, only the worst part was my chest and abdomen. So much pain.
I crawled into bed fully clothed and cried. She and Bear came to me while Bri was with Asher, Bella bringing her Digger Dog and finding my old Digger Dog to join him. She and Bear wrapped around me on either side and cried with me.
“I don’t like it when you cry, Mama.” she said.
“But sometimes we just need to let her,” Bear said and started rubbing my feet. “Does this help?”
Oh these dear ones.
“Bear,” she said, “Where’s your Bible?” He brought it and she opened it to Psalm 23. She read over me, gently, sweetly, beautifully. She found Psalm 37 and read that one to me. Then Psalm 34, the one I used to sing over her, and she read over me.
Bear scrambled to get his iPad and snuck some pictures of us and a selfie, because pics with Bear wouldn’t be pics without a selfie. He cracks me up.
It was comfort. It was encouragement. It was a glimpse in their hurting hearts, too… and what heals them.
Two hours later the pain hit again with a vengeance. Not even my ambien would help me sleep through it. Ash-man heard me crying and jumped down from his bunk and came. “Are you okay, Mom?” I nodded and told him what was going on.
“What can I do?” he kept asking. He needed something to do. “Just pray for me, Buddy.” He grabbed my hand, knelt by my bed and prayed. We talked a little bit about how it is easier to just push all this down, to hide from it, to not acknowledge it, and I thanked him for coming to me, for reaching out to me.
“If I just push it all down, I just get angry, Mom. This. This makes us both feel better. I just which I could fully fix it and make it all go away.”
“Oh, my Ash-man, you did the most powerful thing could. You prayed to our most powerful God.”
He held my hand for a while more and knelt next to the bed with his head on my shoulder, then he went back to bed.
Oh, y’all. I have questioned so often through these past years how this could be good for my children. It made sense for my growth, but how? How is this fear, this pain, this life good for them?
I have no doubt that it is. I know God is making them exactly who He wants them to be.
He’s giving me eyes to see a glimpse of who they are becoming.
And I am overwhelmed by what I see.
For Our Children
Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them.
From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Holy Father, save our children.
Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them.
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.
-Amy Carmichael, from “For Our Children.”