Thursday, October 13, 2011

Struggling Between Two Worlds and How I Pray

It's time to talk about my miracle.

I have a baby growing inside me that, according to two sonograms at different times, has anencephaly. No brain, no skull. She can't survive without them, so we know what the end result will be. As far as medical science is concerned, anyway. I know that if nothing supernatural and wonderful happens, I will lose her. I know it. It's reality. I've already, in some ways, started to mourn her. We've already had to start talking about plans for if/when that happens. You can never be prepared to lose a child, but you can be as prepared externally as possible. We're working on that.

We can work with our hospital to create a "birth plan." Almost everyone makes a birth plan, healthy babies and mamas included. It's just how you know what to expect during delivery. You know where you'll deliver, who's going to be there with you, whether you want pain killing drugs or not, etc. It's wise to plan. In our case, our "birth plan" also includes how we want to handle losing our Caroline Grace. Her birth will be very closely tied to her loss. That's just how anencephaly works. It is extremely difficult to think about the birth of a child also being the end of their life here on earth. I'll be honest and tell you I want to avoid thinking about it as much as possible. Once we make the plan with the hospital, I will try to forget everything I can about it except what I still need to do to make it happen. But it is reality, and it has to be done. I'll manage somehow, with the help of my husband and my Lord, to make those decisions about my precious baby girl. I'm not living in denial about the probability/inevitability of her condition leading to her loss.


I have this other side of things that I am constantly praying for. A miracle. Anencephaly cannot be treated. It can't be "fixed." There is no "change in the prognosis," as one of the doctors stated. As far as the physical world ruled by scientific laws, there is no hope for Caroline. I understand that, all too fully. But I believe in a God that CREATED this world, and it's scientific laws. Not only this world, but me. And my precious Caroline Grace. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, he has power over death itself, so some little condition that is supposed to cause death is no problem for him. I know, in my heart, and without any doubt whatsoever, that He has the power to heal her. He has the ability. And I pray every day and beg Him to heal her, to give me "my" miracle, as I call it. Because it would be mine. It's a selfish request. I want my baby girl. I don't want to lose her.

But even in my selfishness, I have a somewhat altruistic motive as well. I desperately want to keep my baby girl. I don't want to go through the pain of losing her before I even get to have her. But I also want her healing to glorify God. There is NO OTHER WAY she can live. If she lives, it's because He healed her. There is no other explanation. Period. A brain and skull cannot just develop this late in pregnancy. This condition started before I even knew I was pregnant, so it's not something that can just be fixed now. Unless, of course, you're God.

I will let you know, however, that I have trouble even though I KNOW God CAN do this. I don't know that he WILL. So as I'm praying for her to be healed, I have to acknowledge that it might not happen. I fervently pray that it will, and I have all the faith in the world that it COULD, but I don't know how to feel when it comes to the fact that it might not happen. I live in a world of dichotomy. I have medical reality and supernatural grace constantly vying for my attention and loyalty. I am pulled between the two "realities" constantly. It's exhausting, but there's no way around it. To surrender one is to give up hope. To surrender the other is to give up sanity. It's a surreal place to be. I live with two opposing options constantly. And it's hard. And weird. And hard.

At first, this was a major dilemma for me. I didn't know how to pray. I wanted to pray with confidence, to "approach the throne with confidence" with my request. Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Amen. That's what I wanted to do. But how can I come with confidence when I don't know what will happen? I had to be honest with God.

I have two major stories from Scripture that I am modeling my prayers after. The first is Jesus himself, when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was right before he was arrested, betrayed by one of his own close friends, and dragged away to be killed. As God in the flesh, Jesus knew what was coming. He KNEW God's will for him. And even still, he BEGGED God to take away "the cup" that was before him. He cried tears, and he sweat drops of blood, he was in so much anguish. So he prayed, and asked God for a miracle, begged God to take away the pain that was coming. And then he said, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) Yet not my will, but yours be done. That, my friends, is very hard to do. But I am trying my hardest to pray like Jesus did. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." I confess that the last phrase is more a choice to verbalize it than a true sentiment at this point, but I've told God that. He knows how I feel. And I think he gets it. I'm trying to surrender to his will, no matter what it is, but I don't want to. I want what I want. I want my Caroline. But my act of constantly expressing the truth, confessing my weakness, but trying to surrender my will anyway-well, it's the best I can do, and I hope God's grace can make up the difference.

The other thing in Scripture that I cling to is a story in Mark 9. The basics are this-Jesus is going around to a bunch of places, healing people, teaching, preaching, and loving people. Always loving them. He gets to this one place, and a crowd has gathered because there is a demon-possessed boy there, and the Disciples are trying to drive the demon out. It's not working, so when Jesus shows up, he's left to do the dirty-work. He calls the people there an "unbelieving generation" and asks how long he'll have to put up with them. I laughed when I read that, because it's so me. I can just picture Jesus looking at me and saying, "Emily, how long do I have to put up with your unbelief?" He's not saying it to be mean, but because he knows the freedom that comes from faith. I'm learning the lesson slowly.

Anyway, the poor afflicted boy is brought to him, and the boy's father says, "But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." I love this. He's so raw. He's probably tried everything he can think of to make his son better. There is nothing he can do, and he's resigned, but has one last hope. He brings him to Jesus. Do you know what Jesus' response is? "If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes." I love it. And then the father's response is totally me. It brings me hope, and it shows me grace. And I love it. The father of this boy who has been afflicted since childhood with a terrible spirit, comes clean. "Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Can I just take a second to let the tears clear from my eyes? K, thanks.

This just breaks my heart and gives me hope all at the same time. Jesus healed this guy's son. He understood the raw honesty. I say that phrase constantly. Lord, I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief! It is a desperate cry from my heart. I want so desperately to believe, and he gets that I'm imperfect and fall short. His grace covers me anyway. So as I'm praying for my miracle, I beg God to heal my baby girl. I BEG him. And then I say, "As much as my heart breaks to say it, not my will but yours be done. I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief." I believe that God's will is best. I do. It's hard to believe that he would not heal my little Caroline, and it's still what's best. So I'm asking him to help me. I'm asking him to give me the grace to face whatever comes. But I'm still begging for my miracle. I will until the day there is no more doubt. God will either heal her or take her to Heaven with him, and then I'll know. But until that day, he's going to hear from me. Like Jesus, begging for this condition to be taken away, but surrendering (as well as I can, rebelling the whole way) to his perfect will. I am so glad I serve a God that is loving, patient, and graceful.

So I'll keep begging, and confessing, and begging some more. I will live between my two opposing options, and I will ask for the grace to withstand the strain. And I will keep praying, "Father, if you're willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." And I will follow it with, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Thank you Jesus for your grace in my weakness.


  1. Oh Lady. I identify with this entry so much. It's like you heard all the things my soul is struggling with regarding Andrew and his diagnosis. I am thankful that someone understands, but at the same time I wish you didn't. I wish you had no reason to ever feel those feelings or ever have to live in a strange overlap of science and miracle like I do. I am so sorry for what you are going through. (STPsFAJ)

  2. Katherine, thanks for posting. It is definitely nice to have someone who understands, but I know how you feel. I wouldn't wish this on anybody either. But I thank you for the kind words, and I hope you can manage in your situation as well. :) I appreciate your candor.


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