Wednesday, April 25, 2012

He Bottles Our Tears

I have read some things lately that have hit so close to home and have been so very moving that I just have to share.

First off, a dear friend of ours (I will call him "K") wrote an epitaph for our Levi.  I can't explain how precious that is to us, how much we treasure things people create for or in memory/honor of our boy.  It says, "He mattered.  He matters.  He will always matter."  I asked our friend if I could share his creation on our blog, and he gave the ok.  So here it is:

"Epitaph For A Baby Boy

is all that’s left down here a prayer
miscarried words and stillbirth replies
is all that’s left down here a virgin
pair of wasted lungs and the wasted
air that nourishes a mother’s cries—o god what a world you’ve made"


[sigh]  Where is the kleenex when you need it?  How many boxes have I bought this past couple months?  

And then there were these 3 posts by the lovely Ann Voskamp (author of One Thousand Gifts).  If you have not read One Thousand Gifts, order it today and get started.  I am so, so serious.  It is the one book, besides the Bible, that I can actually say has been life-changing.  This past summer, as I have mentioned before, I struggled intensely with a very dark, scary, and debilitating season of anxiety.  I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, had so many panic attacks that it wouldn't even be worth trying to count, went to the doctor and through counseling, took lots of supplements, and struggled for months under the giant weight of unexplained almost constant panic.  One of the major helps in that difficult season was meditating on verses concerning trust in the Lord, fear, anxiousness, etc. in the Word.  The other was reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  Since reading her book, I've been subscribed to her daily posts via email, and these 3 posts have touched me so deeply:

   highlight:  The scars can be beauty marks.” I tell this one little girl, a girl just beginning down her road. “The scars can carve you to be more like Christ.”
Beauty always bears scars because of Love.
highlights:  So we hang out the clothes as we try to hang on, and we stir the pot as all the pain spills, and we still sow though in tears, and let go of every seed, burying hopes and hurts in faith, and out of loss, new life will unfurl, our tears watering rows.
God is with us. And it’s His tender with-ness that binds up the wounds.
And Psalm 126:5-6
"Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him."

highlight (albeit the majority of the post...):  
"'You have recorded my troubles.
You have kept a list of my tears.
Aren’t they in your records?'
Today is recorded in the heavens and its pains are written with the wet of tears of God who “hurts with the hurt of my people.” (Jeremiah 8:21)
For our God does not primarily catalogue the endless stream of sins.
He is God, not a tabloid informant out for dirt, for the flame sensationalist ugly. I forget this.
And there are unspoken parts of me that think He makes no records at all but forgets me, the blind, deaf and dumb God.
But I touch the paper where He’s left the trail of His heart.
He is love, the tender Physician God who keeps tab of the every ache, a doting Father who soul-fissures when His child cries, the God who keeps the ledgers of every pain, every scrape, every brimming, falling, searing tear.
God does not slumber for He cannot cease to bear testimony to our hurt.
God keeps a list.
It’s the wildest Love that drives the Father to record His child’s every lament.
We never ache without God attending, and He can’t stand to see a tear fall to the floor. God cups our grief and puts our tears in His bottle” (Ps. 56:8)."
[sigh]  Found the tissues.  The ESV translation of Psalm 56:8 is:
 "You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?"
A lot of times, in my imperfect perception, I feel as though God just uses my pain for His glory and isn't concerned with the suffering it causes, the weeping, the inner angst, longing, turmoil.  A lot of times I think He is only concerned with getting the job done, like some eternal pragmatist.  But the truth, whether I feel it now or not, is that He is not only bearing witness to my pain, but He is even keeping record of my every tear, waiting for the day when He can wipe them all away.  Oh Jesus, come quickly.  

I stumbled across this blog post that I wrote this past August 28th, the day I turned 27.  The Lord was just pulling me out of the darkness of my anxiety issues, and I was looking ahead toward getting pregnant and walking away from the torment, the pit of fear that had been the past 4 months.  

I'm 27 today, and it's hard to believe how quickly 26 sped by me.  I'm pretty sure I only acknowledged I was 26 a handful of times before I turned 27!  This past year has been the most difficult yet, and I believe this may be the first birthday where not a single picture was taken to remember the day.  But I can tell you this:  God is good to me and so, so faithful through every trial.  I am so thankful for the life and many blessing He has given me, and I believe I can now honestly say that I am also thankful for the tough times/seasons my 27th year of life held.  God is transforming me, molding me, helping my clouded eyes to see and my blocked up ears to hear the things He has for me.  As painful as this process can be at times, isn't that the best birthday gift of all?  I belong to Christ, and I am being made more and more into his likeness.  What a gift.  I've struggled with dread and fear for the future a lot this year, wondering what suffering, what pain, what challenges it will hold for my family and I.  What does 27 hold for me?  But I've had to let go of this fear, cast it upon the Lord, and ask for His peace today Natural, unmedicated birth taught me a lot of things, and it continues to teach me things to this day.  One thing you absolutely must do during labor, especially during pushing, is to take it one contraction at a time.  You must live completely in the present moment and not allow your mind to add up the sum of your suffering though the labor.  If you allow yourself to feel the cumulative effect of the pain and suffering of the entire labor process, you will drive yourself to utter defeat.  Life is quite a bit like labor; there will be pain and suffering.  There will be burdens, tears, and darkness.  But we must live in this moment...nowtoday...not tomorrow, the next 5, 10, 50 years.  We can't allow ourselves to attempt to view the cumulative effect of suffering in our lives.  We cannot try to imagine what things we will have to endure.  Allowing our minds to linger there will drive us to defeat.  Someone pretty wise once said that "each day has enough trouble of its own," and we need not worry about what the future will bring.  What really and truly matters is that the Lord loves me, cares for me, and will be with me through any and every situation I come up against.  He has promised His children His peace and joy in the best of times and in the very worst of times.  The Lord is helping me to trade the worry and fear for truth and love; despair and defeat for joy and peace; discontentment and hopelessness for rejoicing and thankfulness.  As I turn 27 today, I honestly feel like my mind has undergone a renewal, and I am so very thankful.

I had no idea how intensely this new-found heart attitude would be tested, driven to its absolute limits and beyond.  I wonder at the bolded sentence I wrote back on that day; I didn't know what was ahead, but was the Lord preparing me?  How I wish things could have turned out differently for 27...welcoming a new, living, healthy baby into the family, adjusting life as a family of 4, sleepless nights and new milestones, first Thanksgiving and Christmas, matching pajama sets for brothers, sibling pictures, thousands and thousands of pictures of my new boy...  Clearly, I am meant to learn this lesson for good, to have it etched in the very core of my being...Trust God.  Let go of the fear, and Trust Him.  Give Him thanks in EVERYthing.  But couldn't I have learned it another way?  I suppose I must even trust Him that this, this suffering the loss of my baby, is the way...Not the reason, but the proper response.  I'm not there yet, but I am trying.


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