We are one month post Selah’s spinal surgery. (what surgery? Details are here) And what a month it has been! The sheer intensity and chaos of it had us all in autopilot mode a good portion of the time, but reflecting from this side of the chaos, I find myself blown away and in awe of how God remained in every detail. Funny that it all took place in and around the Valentine’s holiday because God taught us a great deal about love. More specifically, about the sacrifice of love.
The surgery was a stunning success! Sure, there were a couple of extremely rough days managing pain and fear, but Selah was an absolute rock star and God had each and every moment covered! I know that without exception, He was taking hold of each of your prayers! So…..
For the sacrifice of love that looked like:
- Staff and doctors taking an extra moment to understand, explain, or invest beyond what is necessarily required.
- Volunteers giving their time to dress in costumes, play games, or train and bring their therapy dogs in for a visit.
- Friends and family that took such good care of us by cooking, driving the boys to keep them on their active schedules , checking in on us, encouraging us, visiting us, sending sweet treasures for Selah, and praying for us.
- Extra high fives and pats on the back for our boys just because others knew it was a tough week.
Whether you all knew it or not, you were the hands and feet of Jesus for our family. And I know that it was a sacrifice. Each of your lives bubble to capacity. It would have been easy to simply say, “I cannot possibly fit it in”. But you didn’t. Instead you made the sacrifice and blessed us in the way God could use you best.
Being where I was, with lots of hours on my hands, I could not help but let my mind wander.
I reached my gaze beyond the room where we stayed and I soaked in the beauty of the sacrifice of love.
I saw other Mamas in the hospital at their child’s bedside. One in particular, had been there since August. Still choosing laughter while pushing back exhaustion, frustration, and tears. Giving thanks for each day. Choosing love. Choosing hope.
I saw my own mom who suffered the most devastating of tragedies in her life time. Again and again. But then and still now she gets back up and chooses to love her children and husband with lion-like ferocity and dedication.
I saw the treasured Mommies that pile into Selah’s school parking lot each day. Often, just to accomplish the most basic of daily tasks takes extreme levels of organization, patience, and effort, but they arrive choosing love over frustration and bitterness.
In the face of such sacrifice is where I sense the greatest depths of love.
A great-big-huge-moving-mountains kind of love.
Love like this is kind of counter cultural, though, isn’t it? Aren’t we living in a world that usually stresses striving for comfort? For ease? For self-preservation? We dodge sacrifice. But yet we crave relationship. Our hearts are wired to desire connection. Yet if we live according to the world’s standards, our relationships will not last. Love will not thrive. Where self-preservation outweighs sacrifice, relationships collapse and love dies.
It is an effort we must weigh continuously. We live in a fallen world where mental health and emotional issues are prevalent. In the face of those who not only cannot sacrifice, but choose to surreptitiously take, we absolutely must set up boundaries for healthy self-preservation.
That weighing and balancing is something I battle daily. Some days I fight the battle well, and other days I do not.
After we were home from the hospital for a few days, we experienced a peaceful Selah. There was an easiness about her. A time where the fears stopped controlling her and causing severe anxiety. Wonderful is in no way adequate to describe it. In those days, the reward of sacrifice wrapped around us and filled our hearts. Today that peace has once again simply vanished for our girl. Oh, to be able to hold onto it, to know how to keep it from escaping. Or, even to know how long it will be until we can get another moment with that little girl.
I know that I am risking judgment by sharing with you that there are times my deepest desire is to run. Run for comfort, ease, and self-preservation. It is not how a Mom should feel. It is not how I ever dreamed I would feel. It grieves my soul to feel as though the only way I can preserve myself is to sacrifice nothing more. My daughter has yet to develop the ability to acknowledge or connect in true relationship. As of now, her connection revolves around an insatiable desire to control those who love her. In the face of that reality, my heart screams. It wants to run for cover because it hurts. That is when sacrifice is paralyzing. When I am frozen, angry, and empty. Nothing left to give. At all.
Those are the moments that without my faith, without having felt and witnessed the power of God in my life and in my soul, I would give up and sacrifice no more. It is when I remember His stories of love. His example of love in action. And the ultimate act in the sacrifice of love … His suffering and death on the cross to give us forgiveness and freedom through a relationship with Him.
If we put fear away and embrace a life of sacrifice to follow after Him, we can have a relationship that lasts. A relationship that has mountain-moving power. I am reminded that He did not just make that sacrifice for those of us behaving according to His desires, but He did it for all for us. Even those of us who sit in rebellion, refusing to love Him back and refusing to make any sacrifices of our own. It doesn’t stop Him from being there with arms open, but it does stop us from the fruit of a powerful and fulfilling relationship with Him. It is the same for all relationships. The success and longevity of a relationship is determined by the willingness of each person to put self-preservation aside and embrace sacrifice.
Selah may not be able to put her self-preservation aside yet. She may never. And because of that, the reality is that our relationship may never see the full potential of our relationship. I know that this is not only my reality. Many of you have, are, or will have this experience in your lifetime. It might not be with your child, but maybe a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or a friend. My heart is with you. You are not alone. I know it hurts.
Only God knows the future. But what I do know is that with Him, all things are possible. And that is where my hope comes from. For now, I can only put each day in His hands and simply commitment to do my best to follow His model. Even when I’m in rebellion and rejection’s line of fire, I believe that somehow, someway I will be given the ability to continue to sacrifice that which He calls me to. He will give me something just when I think I’ve got nothing. He will stop me in my tracks if I turn to run. He will keep teaching me about the sacrifice of love and showing me the right way. His way.
“and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Blessings and smiles,