Being the lover of words that I am, I’ve really enjoyed the trend of choosing a word of the year. Not that I’ve always taken a part in this trend, but I do love seeing the words that different people choose. I do recall choosing the word hope as the year 2013 began- it fit a new season we were embarking upon as we had sought reconciliation in our broken marriage, as we had watched my mom battle and overcome breast cancer, and as we were looking forward to meeting our new baby girl in 2013. Little did I know how much I would embrace that word over the next couple of years as my daughter was born in February 2013 with a barrage of medical issues that caught us completely by surprise.
So, the word hope took on a whole new level of meaning for me as my faith was tested and we walked a scary path into the unknown. And then we had a year of joy as she made huge strides in her recovery and we started to live a fairly normal life. We rejoiced and celebrated and got pretty comfortable with thinking all was well. But then her seizures started. And while things could be greatly worse than they are, it’s not been an easy road.
You see, as a mom, you have this crazy fear for your children. I hate the word fear because it’s a word of bondage- fear does not encompass the victorious life we have in Christ. Yet, somehow, no matter how hard you try, when you become a mom there is this hidden fear that just becomes a part of who you are. These little people take our hearts and prance them around outside of our bodies for the whole world to see, leaving us exposed and vulnerable- and there’s not a thing in the world we can do about it. It’s crazy and scary, yet beautifully wonderful as we grow in our understanding of how much God loves His children.
I experienced this once with my oldest, then again with my middle, and yet one more time with my youngest. But with my youngest has come a whole new level of fear. Because while I know that God holds my days and your days and her days, while I know He has great plans and His plans are for good, while I know that I simply must trust Him in all things… it is scary. When you’ve seen your child dangerously close to leaving you and this world behind more than once, it evokes fear. When you’ve found her unable to breathe on her own, when you’ve seen her seizing for hours despite the attempts by the doctors to stop it, when you’ve seen the images of her brain that just don’t make any sense, when you’ve been given worse case scenarios time and time again… it’s frightening.
I know how many times in the Bible we are told that God is in control, that it is a sin to live in fear and worry, that we need to give it all to Him… believe me, I’ve read the verses, I’ve memorized them, I’ve prayed them, and I’ve tried to live them. And some days I feel like I’ve got it down. But deep down inside, there is always this tiny little ounce of fear of what could happen, what may lie ahead.
I spent a lot of time on my own with Harper this past year. My big girls started attending school instead of being homeschooled, and my husband had a lot of military time away due to training and deployment (and was literally gone half the year altogether)… So it was me. And, honestly, it was a tough year for me on a personal level. Harper didn’t have a terrible year with her illness- We had five ambulance rides to the ER and two hospital admissions aside from her regular visits and testing, so relatively speaking it wasn’t too overwhelming.
But it was the day-to-day living that wore me down… the work, the worry, the tantrums, the sicknesses. I got accustomed to doing things on my own and relying on my own strength (which is always a disaster!). I would catch myself dwelling too much on what could happen, questioning God and really struggling inside with some big questions. It got easier and easier to pull away from the world and keep the emotional and mental struggles to myself- but it hasn’t been a great place to be in, and it certainly wasn’t how God intended me to live.
And so, as 2016 ended and we ushered in a new year, I really began praying and pouring myself into the Word more and more. I began to realize that I needed more of Him and less of me, and that I needed to let go of some big things I’ve been hauling around. Then, on the first day of 2017, I was holding Harper close during naptime as she fell asleep in my arms. I rested as she slept, but the rest was soon interrupted as I heard the disruption in her breathing and felt the all-too-familiar twitching in her right side as she started to seize. I watched the clock and watched my baby, praying for fast relief, and it came. But in those moments, I caught myself fighting back tears because I don’t want this to be her struggle. I want complete healing for my daughter. I don’t want to live with so many unknowns. No matter how hard I try to protect her and beat this for her, I cannot. It is ultimately out of my hands, and I don’t like that.
Yet as I fought sadness and anger and frustration, God began to whisper into my heart just as He has been all along, and I heard three small words in the quiet. Then again today, as I turned on the music, there it was, that same phrase… So, I am embracing these three words for the year 2017: It is well. Because regardless of what 2017 may bring, it is well because my trust is in Jesus. I face a sea of unknowns, but it is well because my heart belongs to the One who knows all things. I don’t know how to fix everything or take away the pain, but it is well because His hands are mightier than my own. I cannot understand the struggles of this world, but it is well because my God is in control. Friends, no matter what comes against us, it is well because our God is for us. It may not always be the easiest truth to embrace, but my prayer for 2017 is that regardless of circumstances, the song of my heart will be, “It is well…”