The next few months felt like the world had ripped open and left us in a gaping hole. Drew’s parents had moved, and I realized just how often I had relied on them, especially on the tough parenting days. And then the bottom really fell out.
Drew caught the flu. My “I’m never sick, ever” husband. Caught. The. Flu. His job at the time didn’t leave room for sick days, so any time off was on him. By the time that we took him in (more like when he finally relinquished because he felt like he was dying), there was really nothing they could give him to make it feel better, but at least he wasn’t hospital bound either.
During that time, we were blessed that Drew was the only one who caught it. He spent most of his time on the couch, and I spent most of mine trying to keep two little girls (ages two and one) off of him.
I was taking care of all three at once, and my self was dying a slow and painful death. One of the few things that helped me make it through that week was when a stranger paid for our meal. Our “we’ll stop here real quick because Mommy is about to have a MOMENT” meal. In the middle of our “somehow, some way, God will take care of us” week. I could keep going after that paid-for meal because He once again showed me how much He cares for me.
Not long after Drew recovered from the flu, we were getting ready for church one Wednesday afternoon when Abby’s elbow popped out of joint. I had picked her up to her feet by her hand when I heard a pop. Immediately, Abby started crying, and I felt like the worst mom in existence.
After a few hours of waiting in the germ-ridden emergency room, she and her daddy went in the back to have it x-rayed. While they were waiting, she somehow popped it back into place. On her own.
The doctor said that it sounded like a classic case of nursemaid’s elbow. Oh good. I had spent the past several hours imagining that worse, that I had broken her arm forever and that they would call child protective services on me. The relief I felt was immediate.
If that hadn’t been enough to rattle me, I was told that Easter that my parents would be filing for divorce and that they would move 2 1/2 hours further south. Separately, of course. I felt my life shift in those months, and had it not been for my girls, I would have given into the despair and depression completely.
And then, guys? On another Wednesday at the end of May, I found Lily in our bedroom choking. Immediately, I did the baby Heimlich. She spit up some, but she didn’t respond well. At all. She had turned pale. I sent Drew to church, thinking that maybe she would be okay.
I tried feeding her, and she spit up everywhere. Knowing that something wasn’t right, I called my mother-in-law. It took maybe five minutes before we were headed to the emergency room.
That was the longest night I have ever spent. Between x-rays, waiting for Drew, an ambulance ride, and not feeding my nursing baby, the hours dragged on and on. Even still, we weren’t alone. My brother-in-law and his family had taken Abby to their house, and my mother-in-law was on her way to take her to our home for the night. The nurses and staff at the hospital were reassuring, even as they stuck my 9 month old baby to give her an IV splint. And when we were finally released the next evening, my sweet baby was once again eating and well.
Sometimes, I feel like this is the “moral” of our story: that there is so much in this life that is bad. There will be things that can kill your spirit and destroy your soul if you let them. And there are times when the dark will cling to you like white on rice, times when this life just seems worthless and pointless and not worth living, when we’re really honest.
But lean in close, friend. There is a secret to having joy, and it’s not about knowing the right verse or singing the right song in the dark. It’s about knowing, truly knowing, that God loves you. That He walks with you in the dark. That He sees you, knows you, and even understands you. He is not shocked by your emotions or your thoughts. He does not beat us on the head and tell us to think better, do better, be better.
He wraps His arms around us, wherever we are, and holds us through it all.
Through the screaming, the swearing, the faithlessness, the hurt, the questioning, the betrayal, the declarations of being done. Just like a mother or a father knows that their three year old (ahem) does not mean a word of it when they declare, “I hate you, Mama!” Just like a father wraps his arms around his tantrum-throwing toddler and says just the right words until that child calms down and hugs his daddy back.
And, too? Sometimes God shows us the right words at the right time. Words that affirm our distress. Words that carry us through. Words meant just for us at just the right time.
This post is part of a 31 Days series on Raising My Ebenezer, part of my story and my own testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. As the song Come Thou Fount says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thine help I’m come.” For the month of October, I’ll be writing our story, outlining the Ebenezers in recognition of His mighty hand on our lives. His doings and His workings because of and sometimes in spite of our best efforts. My hope is that you’ll see a lot of Him and little to none of me. Because in the end, it is by His help that we have come this far.