Thursday, December 29, 2011

An African state of mind

Today marks day 14 of bed rest. 14 days ago my doctor was preparing me to meet my little 29 week baby, he said his hope was I would make it maybe 1 or 2 more weeks. The diagnosis was severe preeclampsia, and I was quickly admitted to the hospital and put on strict bed rest with the expectation that I would be there until they delivered my very little baby.

Many of you know the story, that after just 4 days I was so stable that my doctor had downgraded my diagnosis from severe to mild and I was being sent home. Maybe you didn't know that I wasn't surprised.
In the 4 days I spent in that hospital room I quite literally felt the prayers from around the world being lifted up on my behalf. We were covered by three continents, countless countries. Friends, family, and even people who don't know us personally rallied around in prayer and God heard each one.

Since those days in the hospital I have had a lot of time to think. A lot.

When faced with fear, and I mean not your average fear but rather that wild, terrifying, all consuming fear, we have an incredible opportunity. We are afforded the chance to die to that fear, to give it away. Looking back I am so thankful for those moments two weeks ago when I was by myself, wild eyed and crying on my knees. I am thankful because it took that fear for me to lay down my life and die to myself again and hand it all over to God. Sound extreme? Crazy? Ridiculous?

It is.
That's the point.

We don't have the ability to ease our own fear. No one can give us the right words or a fitting quote that will take away the terror. We can calm ourselves down, take deep breaths and concentrate on good things, but at night, before we go to sleep, the fear is still there. It lingers, it digs it's claws deep into our very being.

But I have the secret, I've known it now for over four and a half years. My fear and hurt, the pain and terror, all can be taken away with one whisper. It takes one deliberate decision, a handover of the torch, and it's gone.

When I became a Christian I almost immediately felt called over to Africa. This raw state I'm experiencing brings me back to those days in Africa when I was terrified. I was terrified to have to watch another child die, to carry the weight of a dead baby in my arms again, or to grieve those losses one more time. I constantly learned to die to my will. When I look back to my days there I envy what my relationship with God looked like. I missed the rawness and wild nature of how desperately I clung to Him. I never woke up and faced a single day by my own strength, it quite honestly would have been impossible to especially during that first year in Benin.

And now I'm back in that state. I'm back to having no control. All of our plans, or even just thoughts of how this first year of marriage and pregnancy would go are long gone. I hope you believe me when I say I am happy about it. It took some time and some grieving, but we wouldn't trade our situation for any other.

I don't know if at one of my bi-weekly checks they will find a problem and send me over for an emergency delivery. I don't know if we will be visiting a little premature baby for the first weeks or months of it's life in a neonatal ICU. I don't know if my body will hold out another 5-7 weeks of pregnancy until this baby growing inside of me is strong enough to be on the outside.
What I do know is that I've been given the gift of 2 extra weeks already. I know that I count each day that passes as a gift.

When I go to sleep, or wake up in the middle of the night with fear lurking in the darkness I turn to God and remember immediately that this little babe will not be born one minute before He plans for it to be. Whatever the situation is on that day, He will be in control. All I have to do is simply trust that. There is no fear in trust.

Now let me tell you, my love for this baby is fierce. The picture in my head when I think about this baby is also one that brings me back to Africa.
The elephant mama is known to be the most protective mothers of all of the animals. She protects her baby to such a degree that you are only warned of two things when you enter certain safari parks. You are to watch out for the male elephants in heat (they leak putrid smelling urine which is supposed to help indicate that they are near, We just went ahead and did our best to avoid close encounters with those big boys) and you watch out for mama elephants with their babies. We saw more than once a mama raise her trunk and charge at the slightest suggestion of someone looking at her baby. I fell in love with elephants while in Africa. They are so majestic and powerful yet gentle and so beautiful. Really though, I loved the mamas and their all out abandon when it came to protecting that which is most precious to them.

That is the essence of how I feel towards this baby who is currently kicking hard enough that my stomach is visibly jumping. I love my husband and my family something fierce right now too.

More than anything though, I am one step closer in all of this to understanding Gods intense love towards me, towards us.

Psalm 141:14-21

The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.