Breathing Underwater

I think I know the outcome before it happens.  I have a sense in my body that what we are longing for isn’t going to be.  As we wait for the phone call to reveal the result of my blood test my prayers switch to panicked begging.  Please Lord, please let this be a pregnancy.  In the final minutes as we wait I get a message from a friend who doesn’t know that today is The Day. She says God has put us on her heart.  And I know then that it will be a negative because He has done this before…..the provision and the protection and the extra prayer to carry us through our pain and confusion.  And when the nurse finally calls as we sit curled on the floor waiting, I can hear that the tone of her voice is positioned to break bad news and I find I cannot react as I expected.  My husband allows his disappointment and sadness to flow; but I find I can’t.  I am counting the silver linings and listing what I have learnt but I can’t quite accept that this is where we find ourselves when we were so sure it would go well.  I think perhaps it hasn’t sunk in yet.

The tears come in time.  My two little babies…..lost to us.  Never to be met.  All that hoping and praying.  My hope feels like it’s in tatters.  The same old rotting question raises its head again: why why why why why why why?  And I do yell at God that I can’t find the sense in this when He has walked it all so closely with us.

The morning after the night before dawns and I long to stay under the covers and hide, rather than face the day ahead. But as he kisses me goodbye, the father of my almost-were-going-to-be-babies says he cannot get worship songs out of his head and I am in wonder at this change of heart attitude.  Over the course of the hours as I prepare for work I receive message after message of encouragement and solace.  One arrives out of the blue from a friend that I haven’t heard from in years and with no knowledge of our situation.  She has no idea just how significant her picture is and I am in awe that God is lifting our heads in hope even now.  I share here her message and another significant message that I received because it matters much to me that if you’re in your own waiting right now, you know that it doesn’t have to be the crappy, lonely, blank space that it so often seems to be.  God is the shield around you in this very moment and the lifter of your head – and I don’t say that lightly.

Hi lovely friend – you been on my mind and I just wanted to share a little something with you – no idea if it’s relevant or not!! We’ve been approved to adopt again and are going thru the process of finding our child – it’s a bit frustrating and tricky and heartbreaking at times but last week I felt God speak and today I felt like I wanted to share it with you. People always say when one door closes another will open but they never talk about being in the corridor. The picture I had was of being in a lovely corridor – we’d entered this corridor by making a decision to have another child and we’d walked through the door that represented making that decision and now we were sat in the corridor. There are doors along the corridor (for me each door represents a child) some are shut and some are ajar but the doors that are ajar are just that – we’ve knocked but not been invited in yet. Even if an ajar door opens it just leads to a waiting room and there are no guarantees that we will be invited through to the next room – we might just be sent back to the corridor with heart ache and disappointment as our companions. But I felt the corridor was an ok place – it was light and airy and nicely decorated- it’s not somewhere I want to become settled with but it’s a transitional place – one of discovery and learning, one where hearts are shared and tears shed with each disappointment that comes along.  But above all else it’s a place of hope – it’s somewhere where we can look back and see how far we have come but it’s hopeful because there are more doors ahead and we don’t know what adventures lie behind that door when it finally opens and we are done with the waiting. It’s in the corridor that we find God.

My precious friend, praying for you this morning and had a picture of a very thin, fraying thread. As I was praying I saw you holding on to this all too familiar thread, worn at the edges, almost breaking in places and stretched far more than it should be but still somehow in tact and slowly and surely pulling yourself up again, out of the depths of grief and hopelessness and at the top is God’s hand, pulling you up, not dragging you beyond your strength and speed but going with your pace and steadily drawing you closer to him again. And when you get there, when you choose to draw near again, the biggest embrace is waiting for you and he will hold you tightly again until next time, when he will walk through it again with you and hope alongside you for the best outcome.

I also felt as I was praying that this would have been good, it would’ve been great, it would’ve been excellent, in fact, to have been pregnant now… But I was reminded that what we perceive as good, great, excellent is not always the BEST scenario. As frustrating as that is, and equally annoying when other people’s prayers for good timing match perfectly with His BEST, it’s just how it is for some of us.

So, I’m praying that you will hold on to that thread of hope in his BEST and know he is there, ready and waiting for you and also mourning with you and longing for this timing to come together. And it will my sweet friend, I believe it, as I do for me too. There’s so much we don’t understand and our tiny pea-sized brains are nothing compared to the perfect masterplan He has for our lives.

But even these amazing words of comfort aren’t enough for me and I resolve to defy my husband’s humility and refuse to play worship music as I drive to work, breaking the habit of these recent weeks. Two fingers up to you, God. Today I don’t feel like praising you. Today I choose BBC Radio 2!

I am ten minutes into my journey when a line in a song that’s playing stands out to me, “leave your sadness by the river”…….I recall……. they are like trees planted beside streams of water, bearing fruit in all season. Yes, I conclude, I need to leave my sadness by the river – God’s living water. I can be that tree with roots set deep that lets the sadness flow away downstream. In time. The song ends and a new one begins, “I believe in miracles ‘cos it’s a miracle I’m here. Yes you could call me spiritual ‘cos physical is fear”. Ok now He’s got my attention…..”Something like flying, hard to describe it, My God I’m breathing underwater.  Something like freedom, freedom, My God, I’m breathing underwater”….The song builds and grows, culminating in a swirling, heady gospel track which shifts from despair to joy. And I don’t know what to do with myself. I can feel my heart strumming faster as I hear these words. I can sense joy leaping despite my best efforts to stay miserable. I can feel the need to praise Him rising from deep within me. And as I park the car and walk to work I find I am struggling not to walk along with both arms in the air in worship. How. Can. This. Be??

On huge, strong wings like an eagle, Father God has flown down from His sanctuary and scooped me up from the ground and we are soaring towards the bright and glorious sunshine of His mighty goodness. The exhilaration of flying; the freedom from despair; the determination to sustain the hope…… THIS is the crown of beauty. THIS is the oil of joy. THIS is the garment of praise.

I marvel at the ‘how is this possible?’ for the rest of the day, floating further and further away from the wrenching pain of disappointment.

Only supernaturally. This is nothing to do with us. Maybe we laid a foundation of praise in the waiting time and we are seeing the fruits of that now but it still doesn’t make any sense.  And when I get home and explain all this to my husband and play him the song, he bursts into tears as we fling our arms in the air and dance around at this ridiculous and unnatural reaction to bad news.  Our desires for a family haven’t changed at all, but somehow Father God’s determination that we will take this outcome and see it as a blip and not a full stop in our story is pushing us onwards. I wonder whether we are no longer writing this story ourselves……the plot isn’t my choosing and the way the characters are behaving is quite bizarre….

I turn my head towards the author and perfector of our faith and He smiles a knowing smile of assent.

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