We walked through the hospital doors with our 5-week-old son. It was a day we knew would come. We had awaited it with a mixture of relief and fear. Our little guy needed to begin the healing process so that he could live a healthy life, but the surgery was complex and the thought of all that he would go through made my heart ache.
The weeks since his birth had been a whirlwind of emotion. What I had anticipated to be a normal delivery and healthy baby was not our reality. He was born with a genetic condition that caused a significant portion of his intestines to be unable to function. It is known as Hirschsprung’s Disease.
I was told to give him his last bottle hours before our arrival. As we walked through those doors, he was already hungry…wanting another bottle.
I could give him water for now. It would help for a minute, but then the cries would start again.
The nurses were rushing back and forth. Not very warm and fuzzy for this first time mama and her sick baby. Strip him down. Weigh him on the cold metal scale. The cries were even louder now. At five weeks old life was about eating, sleeping, pottying, warmth, dryness, love, and cuddles. At least I could still give him the love and cuddles.
In preparation for the early morning surgery, the IV needed to be inserted into his itty bitty little veins. I’d watched them do it a number of times during his first week in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and had actually been trusted to hold him gently, but firmly, while they did so. I wasn’t an overly dramatic mama that couldn’t handle it. I’d spent the last five weeks performing three times daily enemas so that my little guy’s body could be emptied of waste. I prepped, performed, and cleaned every aspect of that necessity. I’d held and rocked and bounced and rubbed a hurting little tummy as he cried from his digestive system’s inability to process his food. I wasn’t easily shaken.
But the nurses were not going to let me be there or hold him this time.
They insisted on taking him to a room behind secure doors to insert the IV. But, I knew he needed his mama to hold him or my hungry, cold, scared baby would never stop screaming. This was wrong and I wanted to scream as they whisked him away from me. Now none of his needs were being met. Not even the love and cuddles.
We waited in that small makeshift room with only a curtain for a wall. I could hear him crying. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty. I still heard crying.
They wouldn’t listen to me. They were not successfully placing the IV. But they wouldn’t bring him out or let me back to him. Thirty minutes. Forty.
I thought a part of my soul was dying right then and there.
In the course of my personal life, I had weathered countless battles and on many levels had grasped that I was simply not in control of all that happens in this life. However, a battle on behalf of your child is an entirely different matter. By God’s design, as parents, we are wired to love to indescribable depths. We are wired to protect. It is an immediate placement of fierce down-to-your-toes and through-your-soul kind of love. One that says I will give my life to protect yours. But, at only five weeks old, I had already found that I could not protect him.
And that fact jolted my soul. In that moment, every last ounce of power I once felt belonged to me was stripped away.
That awful night is a somewhat distant memory now. But it marked the beginning of a significant change in me.
Little did I know that it would mark the beginning of my ability to surrender the fact that I could never be perfect.
Not the perfect daughter.
Not the perfect friend.
Not the perfect wife.
And, most difficult of all, not the perfect mama.
No matter how hard I tried.
It was a defining moment. The moment I began to be strong.
Because when I finally began to lay down my fear of weakness, I was free to pick up His strength.
I think we are taught by the world to feel strong when we can manage, organize, and control our lives and those in it. We get stuck in in a rut that says the more organized my world, the stronger the person I am. We take pride in how quickly we can respond with exactly the right remarks to put someone in their place. We judge others by how we feel they should be conducting the events of their lives. We judge them according to some preconceived standard of perfection. It becomes a vicious cycle that we trap ourselves in, never realizing how it damages our own lives…our own souls. All of it in the name of “strength”.
But I believe that it is in the moments when our power is stripped away that God’s strength rises. It is when, in the deepest place of humbleness and acknowledgment that I have no power, that Jesus says “Yes you do. It is Me in you.” Somehow He takes those moments of desperation and uses them to pull us closer to Him. He draws us into His strength and then allows us to emerge with the gift of His power fully embodied within us. The strength comes in acknowledging our weakness all the while being filled with a new power that comes from Him alone.
His strength is not going to be an overly dramatic, ranting and raving kind of protest. It is not going to be a whining, pouting until-I-get-my-way kind of tactic. His strength is not going to be a give-up-and-cry-my-eyes-out kind of response.
When I read my Bible, I observe a Jesus who speaks confidently and firmly, but all the while with words of compassion and grace. He is not snarky. He is not lead by His anger, frustration, or emotion.
Strength is often found in the quiet. In the peace. In the ability to set aside differences and love in spite of them. It’s found in grace and forgiveness. It is found in truth. It is found in the acceptance that there are a million and one things over which I have absolutely no control. And loving myself and others in spite of it.
Since that day several years ago, I have inevitably walked head-on into more powerless moments in the face of parenting my children – More than I ever dreamed. Each time, God has used the circumstances to reach the next layer of my depths of understanding.
I wish I could say He was done teaching me those lessons, but something tells me this is a lifelong course of
walking humbly, laying down my fears, and picking up His strength
I know this post has gotten waaaaaaay tooooooooo long, but I cannot leave you without sharing God’s Word. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us what God says about accepting our weaknesses. Here are three different translations. I loved all three and just couldn’t bear to pick just one to share with you!
(VOICE) and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me.
(MSG) Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
(NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Blessings and smiles,