Recently I asked my beautiful wife, Chelsea, what God was teaching her through this process as we struggle together in this season and I absolutely loved her response. Here it is below:
I woke up this morning to pump and simply wanted to just fall back to sleep while pumping. As my eyes weighed heavy, I looked to the ground to bring the pump to the bed and my bible caught my attention. I had placed it there the previous night as a reminder to spend the second pumping time of the morning reading God’s Word. Everything in my body and mind screamed that it just wanted to sleep, but over the past weeks I have learned how it is not just sleep that will help or get me through this time but reading and remembering God’s word. Ultimately, it is the only thing that is sustaining me.
Scott is amazing and I have wonderful friends, but the only thing that won’t change and can’t fail is His word. We have spent the past 10 weeks in the NICU with our little girl, a place that is starting to be more of our home than our actual home. Everyday looks different and almost every moment or every hour can look disparate. Davy will be doing great and then suddenly she has a fever, or she has stopped having bowel movements, or her stomach residuals are back up. I have found myself in great sorrow or disappointment with the changes. I have found that I am riding the NICU roller coaster (as we have come to know it) with great emotional variance in the highs and lows. Spending your day like this for 10 weeks can be exhausting.
This wasn’t something I was tangibly seeing myself do until Scott and I discussed how the lows affected him. He shared they were hard but it seemed I was letting them take me too low. I was riding each small and great hill of the roller coaster so closely that I couldn’t see what was happening from a greater perspective. I couldn’t see the steps of progress Davy was taking because every set back consumed my vision, instead of seeing where she had been and all that God had done since her birth. I was missing the forest for the trees.
However, this new perspective still isn’t sustainable enough because there will still be “good” days and “bad” days ahead. She will have days filled primarily with steps backward or to the side. If I continue to see each day according to her health and recovery, no matter how zoomed in or zoomed out, I will still be left disappointed, discouraged or hopeless.
And can I be honest with you? This has been my predominant emotional state over the past few weeks – disappointed, discouraged, and hopeless. I wouldn’t want to say it out loud because I know “the right” answers and “the right” emotions I’m supposed to have. I have been taught and know intellectually that this is not true for the Christian. We are not without hope because we have a great Savior who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), who healed many when He walked the earth (Matthew 11:4-5; 15:30) and tells us to ask and it will be given to us (Luke 11:9-13) but this is how I was feeling. Why?
God started showing me that I had made Davy’s health an idol. All of my mind, my heart, and my affections were wrapped around her getting better or showing signs of getting better. Now, as parents I do believe it is natural and normal to want good for our kids. To want them to be healthy, to be OK, to not hurt, to be glad and joyful. But if I make that ultimate in my desires I have put something before God. I have made those things about Davy where I look for joy, peace and gladness, not God. I had made Davy and her health/recovery an idol that I was worshipping, but, it was failing me. With each struggle the thing I was looking to for joy or peace or gladness wasn’t delivering. It was failing. I found myself in place of disappointment, sorrow and discouragement.
God has been gracious to reveal these truths to me in the past few weeks. He has shown me that if I turn my eyes to Him and His Word in the moments of each day He will sustain because His Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:8). He has reminded me that He does not change (Malachi 3:6) even when everything around me is mutable. His word prompted me to recall that He never fails because He holds the world together by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3), and no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Lastly, I’ve been grounded in the truth that He promises He is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28) and that one day He will return and wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4).
He is where I look to for hope, strength, joy, and peace. As we continue the perpetual, and unpredictable ride of the NICU roller coaster I hope to follow the example of the psalmist in Psalm 42:5-6 when my heart begins to question or doubt,
“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”