I'm thinking that the strain of the past week has perhaps started to get to me. Ok, so the strain has always been getting to me, but I feel like the intensity has increased lately. I'm beginning to feel slightly more defensive, and slightly more irritable. I don't like that it's happening, but it's not something I can really do anything about. Emotions happen. It's what we do with them that matters, I think.
I'm not perfect by any stretch. Trust me. If you could switch places with my husband for a couple days, you would know without a shadow of a doubt how imperfect I am. I am struggling with this diagnosis. I'm trying to be open and honest about it, too, but unless we have an hour long conversation, you might not see the whole picture. The complexities of the emotions and thoughts that I'm dealing with right now are more than can be expressed and understood in a 10 minute conversation. A lot of people have shown enormous care and concern for us. I am eternally grateful. But it's hard to answer the question, "How are you doing?" with any real success. How am I doing? As well as I can under the circumstances. And if you ask me that, I'm going to tell you as much as I can in as succinct a way as possible. My typical response right now to that is, "I'm doing ok for now. I have my hard moments, but God's grace has flooded us, and we're making it through." Does that mean I'm not struggling? Not at all. Does that mean I'm hiding behind cliches? I'm not trying to. Does it mean I'm living in denial? Hardly. It means I want you to see God's grace, not my weakness. Everyone knows this is hard for us, that it hurts. I don't need to show you I'm weak. The circumstance tells that tale. I won't deny it. I'm not trying to hide it. But where is the glory to God in emphasizing my weakness, if I don't then point you to his grace? His STRENGTH is made perfect in my weakness. He's more important than I am. I want you to see his strength through my weakness. Not my weakness alone.
I think it's easy to look at the way I'm handling things right now and wonder if I'm off my rocker a little bit. Truly. Maybe I am, I don't know. But I don't think so. I think I got a horrible diagnosis 10 days ago, and I'm still learning how to process it. I don't know what the future holds. I am, as I have mentioned constantly, praying for my daughter to survive. I am clinging to the hope that God will heal her. How can I do anything else? I love her enormously already, and I don't want to lose her. I have a profound new understanding of faith and hope. I am being showered in God's grace and mercy, and that is all that is getting me through; grace, mercy, and hope.
The day we found out this condition was even a possibility for Caroline, I bawled. For a long time. I clung to my husband's hand or hugged him and just cried. That was before we even knew for sure Caroline had anencephaly. When it was confirmed the next day, you don't want to know how much I cried. I've already shared the thoughts I had that first day (see this post). I had pretty much already started to mourn her and didn't know how I was going to continue carrying her, knowing I would lose her. In my mind at that time, there was no hope for a miracle. I didn't think there would be any outcome outside of the medical certainty. It was a very hard day for me. To go from the excitement of expecting a healthy child to the process of planning her funeral was not something I cared to do. What parent would?
The next day brought God's grace and clarity. He reminded me that he is bigger than medical science, bigger than anencephaly, bigger than the loss of our daughter. If he wanted to, he could simply whisper the words, or even just THINK the words, and she would be healed. Period. No questions. Will he choose to do that? I don't know. I really don't. I hope so, but I have no guarantees that he will. I just have to trust that he knows what is best, and rely on him when the hard moments come. Whether those hard moments are short lived because he heals her or sustained because we lose her, I will be clinging to Jesus in them no matter what.
Does this mean that I can trust and hope all the time, and not fail in my faith? Ha! Absolutely not. Does this mean I'm living in some dream world where she's healed and I don't have to suffer? Not a chance. I can honestly think of perhaps two days in the past ten where I didn't cry over Caroline's probable loss. Those two days were because I was distracted by other things going on and didn't really have time to think about anything at all. If I think about Caroline, I have to face reality; I don't know what's going to happen to her. I have to face it everyday, every time she kicks, every time I see my reflection in the mirror. I have to face the fact that it is a medical certainty I will lose my first child to a horrible disorder unless God steps in to heal her, which I have no guarantees he will. You know what though? I can't live there. I can't let myself despair. I can't let myself sit in the uncertainty and fret, or mourn Caroline's loss indefinitely. I would literally go insane. I have to cry, I have to mourn, I have to break down, I have to stumble. But my God is bigger than my weakness. My God is bigger than my despair. My God is bigger than DEATH.
If I focus on my circumstance, I will lose my mind, and my faith will be shaken. If I focus on the God that is bigger than circumstances, I can continue to have faith, to have hope, to point others toward the hope I have. Even if my earthly hope of healing for my daughter doesn't come to be, my TRUE hope is eternal. Because my hope for healing does not come from an earthly perspective anyway. Only God can heal her, and only he has the power to. It would be to glorify God that she is healed. If it doesn't happen here on earth, she will be perfect in Heaven, and we'll see her there someday. That's all that matters to me right now. There will be plenty of time for me to mourn and miss Caroline, plenty of time to cry, plenty of time to face the realities that go along with losing her. We're already facing some of those by making plans I would rather not have to make. But that doesn't change my mindset.
It would be a lot easier for me to crumble under the weight of this whole thing. There are days I am TIRED of CHOOSING to be hopeful and faithful. There are days when I'm just plain tired. This is not an easy path for us, and I will never claim that it is. If I tell you I'm doing ok, it's because I am not crushed. I am not overcome. And I have not lost my eternal perspective on Caroline. It doesn't mean I don't hurt or struggle. It doesn't mean I don't sometimes wonder why this is happening to us. It doesn't mean I'm living in a dream world of denial. It means I am resting in my Heavenly Father's loving grace and mercy. It's the only place I can survive this potential/probable tragedy. If I don't have Jesus, what do I have? Even if Caroline was completely healthy, we wouldn't know how long we have with her on earth. Cameron and I are not naive enough to think that a healthy baby equals a long life for that child. This has just sharpened that into clearer focus. We live in a fallen world. Death happens, to all people, at all ages. And we're facing that as it comes, but trying our hardest to maintain a Biblical and faithful perspective. God has a plan in this. As much as it might hurt, I am trusting that whatever happens, he will sustain us. He loves us, and he loves Caroline. That's all that matters right now.
So if you ask me how I'm doing, now you can know what "Ok" means; you can know that my response is honest and not delusional. You can know that my heart is breaking, that I am stretched thin by the two possibilities I'm constantly stuck between, and you can know that God is bigger than all that. And that without him, I would be a mess. That is the God's honest truth. I'm enough of a mess even with him as it is. Haha. As I often say, I am so thankful that I serve a loving, kind God, who lavishes his mercy and grace on me as I make my way through this quagmire of faith, hope, doubt, fear, and uncertainty. He is patient with me when I lose it, he holds my hand when I am weak, and he is glorified when I can put my self aside and see him for who he really is. I am honored to be called his child, and I praise him for holding me like a Father would. Thank you Jesus for your comfort and grace in the midst of heartache and uncertainty.