In the past two weeks we have received more encouragement than I have in probably my whole lifetime. I have really tried to read every word that every person has taken the time to write. We are incredibly grateful for this immeasureable support.
One email I received had the best advice I’ve been given….A father to a Retinoblastoma survivor himself, he writes:
Embrace every bit of pain you experience. Do not try to ignore it or numb it. Engage it, so that you might get everything out of this that God would have for you. He will get you through this, but don’t just try to survive; commit to grow and keep your eyes wide open to God’s hand on your life. You will eventually look back on this time with amazingly sweet memories.
It had been probably just one or two full days after we received Willa’s diagnosis that I realized that I hadn’t been alone with the Lord and allowed myself to truly feel the weight of all of it in His presence. I was getting along well with keeping myself busy with all three children, cleaning, preparing to leave for Memphis, playing in the snow. But I knew that wasn’t God’s intention with the pain.
You see, ever since Johnnie June was born about a year and a half ago, I’ve been scared to “feel all the feels” in front of the Lord. And plead with Him. And scream at Him. Cry with Him. I’ve been consumed with trying to form the right words, spend the right amount of time praying, staying above the surface with Him to avoid the hurt, the sanctification, the hard stuff, the reason we exist. I had prayed for Him to, quite frankly, speed up the labor process with Johnnie and get her here faster, because it wasn’t fun and it hurt and I wanted Him to save me from it. And He didn’t….I felt abandoned and really and truly until the past few months I’ve remained in that spot.
So, after two days of holding it all together following Willa’s diagnosis, I felt the tugging of the Spirit to let.it.go. I sat down, probably opening my Bible(I don’t remember, because at this point I was still trying to save face) and played the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music for the first time ever. And then it happened. The tears would not stop. I sobbed. I CRIED OUT TO THE LORD! I was literally writhing in pain, pulling at my clothes, unable to contain the hurt that had welled up inside of my heart. And you know what? I’ve never felt closer to my Creator. I feared abandonment, but instead I was received, enveloped in open arms of mercy.
He wants all of you, always. In the midst of the struggle He is jealous for your broken and contrite heart.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you WILL NOT despise. Psalm 51:17 (emphasis mine)
So, if you’re holding back, if you’re happy and comfortable staying busy while ignoring the hurt so you can just survive it. Stop. Pour it out and allow Him to bear your burden! How long do you think the alternative will keep your head above the waves? When you feel it all, yes, it hurts, it’s the worst pain imaginable….but you know you’re alive. In allowing God into the darkest parts of our hearts by ripping off the bandaid of facade and bleeding out the reality of our broken and desperate state, we’re invited into the greater story.
We’re alive and we’re living for a love and a cause that cannot be contained beneath our circumstances. We’re invited into the Gospel, into the lap of Jesus, who has already won the battle for us. So give up! You don’t have to be strong in front of your Maker. Feel all the feels. I dare you, I really do. In confidence I can say, you can never be prepared for the hurricane of grace that is waiting to saturate your tired heart.