Truth exists, and then there are lies. There is expectation, and then there is reality. There is the picture in our heads, and then there is the real story. And in the midst of those, God stands firm between the lines. He leads before and behind. (Psalm 139:5). I have spent months praying and contemplating whether or not to share this portion of our family’s journey. It feels more like Ally Ruth and Bailey Grace’s story than mine. The Lord has clearly directed me to remember this, however: It is NOT their story. It is HIS story. Hugh and I want to teach them that every moment of each of their lives. Any fears I have in sharing this season with you are directly trumped by the glory I KNOW He is receiving. Therein lies our joy. God is working for our good. For Ally and Bailey Grace’s good. And, ultimately, He is bringing out more than we could possibly plan or imagine for the praise of Him and His kingdom. So here we stand.
Throughout my pregnancy, my prayer continued to be two things: that our babies would know the Lord in a real way at a young age, and that he would keep them healthy. Hugh memorized Psalm 139 during those months, and looking back on it, I see the Lord preparing us for where we are now. I was under the assumption that as long as we made it close to full term and there were no complications at birth, we were “in the clear” for any kind of health problems. The girls’ fetal movement remained strong and consistent throughout my pregnancy. Although I went into labor at 33 weeks, they were able to stop the contractions and I continued to carry the babies until almost 37 weeks. The delivery was seamless, and while the girls went to the NICU for a few days out of precaution, nothing led anyone to believe we were bringing home anything other than two typically developing girls.
The months after we brought the girls home remain a blur. Between nourishing two babies, making sure they continued to gain weight, and basically just trying to ensure they (and we!) survived, Hugh and I were busy to say the least. Slowly, the fog was lifted and we began to get used to our new normal. As time passed, it became obvious that there was some delay in the girls’ development. I will spare the internet many of the details, but the crux of everything is: there was a point that I was convinced the Lord was going to take our two babies home. I say this with utter respect for those of you that have lost a child. I do not mean that in a dramatic way at all. But the words, “You give and take away” became very real for me for a few weeks. Many doctors appointments later, there are still no clear cut answers. Some things have been ruled out, but we still lie in the gray.
The one thing that has been determined at this point is that the girls have hypotonia. What has not been determined, however, is what that will mean for them later down the road. In the midst of doctors appointments, physical therapy, and early intervention, we wait. For time to pass. For progress, or lack thereof, to make its course. But at the end of the day, we are not waiting on any of these temporary things. We are waiting on the Lord. We are waiting on the God who is THE Answer to EVERY Mystery. He is NEVER surprised. He is not surprised by your story or mine because HE IS WRITING IT. There are so many things that I want to relay to those of you who are reading this, but my ultimate purpose in sharing this journey is because I am firmly set in the truth that He is intricately sewing together the details of all of our lives… and ALL the details are good. Whether we would have been told that the girls have a life-threatening disease or whether this turns out to be a “simple” developmental delay that is healed in time, He continues to be good and perfect in our midst.
There has never been a season of life that God has transformed my heart (or my marriage) more. I cannot express how supported Hugh and I feel by the body of Christ. How our community has continued to encourage us. I cannot tell you that there has not been suffering . Comparison is the stealer of joy, and we have had to fight to remember that, just as Hugh memorized months ago, our girls are FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. There is so much beauty in being able to celebrate and appreciate every milestone met, no matter how delayed. What I also want to portray and reveal to a watching world is that we rejoice in our sufferings because God never said that there would not be tribulations on this earth. The Lord sent His only Son to SUFFER. I have often found comfort in this truth: Jesus’ purpose on this earth was solely that. To suffer for our sins. He counted it as a privilege because He was able to see the big picture. The glory in the aftermath. And while our humanity and flesh limits us from doing that, we can trust in the One who not only sees it, but who painted it. We Christians have too often made it seem like if you follow Jesus, you will be “blessed” according to the worlds’ standards. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Word of God does not define blessing as the world does. But there is BLESSING IN OUR SUFFERING because the MORE WE SUFFER, THE MORE LIKE CHRIST WE BECOME.
So here we stand. In the gray. Without answers. With anxieties, sadness, disappointment, and fears. But more importantly, with our unchanging and sovereign God. This is His story. And so is yours. We can escape the bitterness and callous heart that comes from hard things when we look to Him as the Giver of ALL good gifts. If He has given it to you… it is good. This might sting today. It may not make sense today. Rest assured, the Lord grieves with us in our sorrows as well. But He allows circumstances and portions of our stories to enter because He sees the beauty around the bend. While, of course, we are praying that God would heal the girls of any delay or atypical development that is occurring, we also are ready to praise Him and trust Him if He, in His wisdom, chooses not to. And this, my friends, is where freedom lies. There is eternal beauty in the waiting. What an incredible, merciful God we serve. He brings beauty from all of our ashes. He loves us. Oh, how He loves us.