Sunday was just one of those days. The hard, but good, sad, but a woman made new type of crying days. I did have a warning that it would be like this when my friend Greta texted me before church, “Bring your tissues, you are going to need them.” It felt good to be known, to be thought of and loved and so I went to church as prepared as I could be. Off I went with a little faster heartrate, my three kids, and my sweet sister in law Rachel.
As soon as the sermon began I knew why it was going to be one of those mornings. Besides the fact that it was the 31st (Gideon’s 5 month anniversary), besides the fact that Mitch was preaching (our pastor who literally walked hand in hand with us from the day of diagnosis until the day we had to say goodbye), and even if it was only for those two things I might have been weepy…but to top it off Mitch was preaching on what we should do in times of crisis. “And you will have crisis,” he said, “if you aren’t in crisis right now you probably will be soon and you need to know what to do when it happens.”
Mitch is right. I wish he wasn’t. I wish that this life came with some type of “pass.” Some type of “okay you’ve done your time and now you don’t need to worry about one more bad thing happening to you for as long as you live”type pass. But no matter who we are, how “good” we think we’ve been, or even how close to God we are there is no such pass. Its hard to hear, but its true. And so we should be prepared shouldn’t we? Not fearful or worrying everyday when it will happen. But armed and ready and surrounded by people who will love us and care for us when it happens. Grounded in truth that even in death, there is hope. We will be redeemed someday. And in all of this a weird thing happened on Sunday morning. I listened and I cried and I missed my baby boy, but all the while deeply peaceful because I know that even if it happens again…God will be there then too.
“I heard a scream,” he said, “as my son and I were happily playing legos, in the middle of an ordinary day, the screams of my wife coming from upstairs showed me that something bad was happening.” Well actually I lied, he didn’t say “my son and I” because Mitch likes to leave you hanging until the very end of the morning. The whole time you thought Mitch was talking about a couple he knew, but little did we know he was talking about he and his wife. His own story of crisis and what happened when it hit. His son was 4 years old and his wife was 30 weeks pregnant. Blood came, then the screams, then the rushing to the hospital. Then the plea”God I don’t know what is happening but we need you right now!” Then the phone calls upon phone calls from friends, “Mitch we are praying for you. We don’t know what is happening and we don’t know what will happen. But we are here for you. We love you.” They almost lost their daughter that day. Now a senior in high school, ready to head to college next year, they don’t know why God chose to save Lindsay that day. And as Mitch spoke the tears rolled, “We don’t know what happened that day, or why it happened, but we know that God was there. And for the families upon families who have sat in my office whose child was not saved, in their time of crisis God was there too.”
I wish I had the words to say when my sister in law held my hand and said, “Maria I don’t know how you do it?” And so Rachel (since I know you are reading and I couldn’t speak through my tears on Sunday!) I would like to answer now! I honestly can’t explain how I do it, but I do know that I am. Somehow, someway I wake up each day and fight away the fears and the whatifs and the crippling sadness and I smile because Gideon was mine. We are making it, somehow someway because of the outpouring of prayer for us. Literally from the day we received news of Gideon’s Potter’s Syndrome and still to this day people have been praying for our family. Praying for us in ways we couldn’t pray through our tears and providing for us in ways our hands did not have strength to do for ourselves. All of this because we decided to lay our lives bare to the people around us instead of hiding (though in the beginning it was all I wanted to do). Yes, there are good days and bad days sure, but our family is okay. Better than we ever have been because life is less scary once God is proved true. I am doing it, because He gives strength to those who ask for it. You know it is a little funny, part of me thought the same thing as Mitch was speaking. “How am I still breathing?” Because at the end of Mitch’s too close to home cliffhanger story telling, there was truth. Truth that keeps me going, and truth I knew that other people needed to hear too.
“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
In the upcoming weeks I am going to start talking a lot about fear. This fall I am teaching a class at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville NC called From Fear to Faith. You can read about it here and sign up to come join me if you are around. I mention this, because a sermon like Mitch’s used to instill great fear in me. I had never experienced great loss or crisis before this and the logical part of me felt like it was only a matter of time before the hammer fell. I would rationalize myself in and out of fearing what could come and I lost a lot of minutes of my life living in fear. The ironic part of it is, that in the wake of one of my worst fears coming true I realized so clearly the reasons why fear is a sad waste of non-crisis times. I will unpack this a ton more in the coming weeks, but for now I pray that my words and Mitch’s words, don’t instill fear but instead inspire an action plan. Afterall, even if crisis never knocks at your door…there is so much love and help to be given to those to whom it has.
If you want to listen to Mitch’s own words, you can listen to it here. (its second from the top called Reel Community: Gravity).