02 January 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ A splinter story

"...and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages..."

I've come across that quote many times recently - always attributed to a different person, so I don't know who actually first said it or where it really comes from, but I've been thinking about it quite a bit.

Pretty graphic description, not at all flattering... but right or wrong, I've agreed with that sentiment of late, particularly as it relates to this mama and how I love these children God has given me. Let me tell you just one of about 10 stories I could recount from the past month...

Several weeks ago, I returned to the Rec Center (where we tend to hang out as a family on Saturdays) after teaching ladies' Bible study to find my baby boy laying on a pool chair snuggled up to his cousin, his right eye very red and inflamed and tearing almost continually. Apparently, Jonathan had been playing in a tree, climbing and monkeying around with his buddies, and ended up getting poked in the eye with a branch. He wasn't complaining, yet it was obvious he was uncomfortable and somewhat distressed.

My immediate reaction was guilt... was this somehow my fault and if I'd been ministering to my family instead of off ministering to others, this might not have happened?

Then anger joined the party in my mind, directed primarily towards my husband - after all, if he'd been watching the kids instead of reading The Isles (a history book that he has been meandering through for about 6 months), this might not have happened... and why didn't he call me or why wasn't he doing something to help our little guy feel better?

My little guy was hurting, and so was I. I was heart-sore, and wondering what I should do to help him, praying for God's intervention, losing sleep as I'd wake up to check on him and his eye throughout the night... it had become more than simply caring and was preoccupation.

That's what I mean when I say that I've been agreeing with that sentiment... "Love takes hostages."

According to Miriam Webster, a hostage is
  1. a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge pending the fulfillment of an agreement; a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands
  2. one that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence
It is that second definition that particularly resonates.

Way more than I care to admit, in fact. 

During those intervening weeks since Jonathan first hurt his eye, I've felt as though against my will, preoccupations and worries and wonders of what would happen and what we should do have derailed and detained my thoughts.

I'd dwell on this particular situation, rapidly running a mental gamut... touching on many aspects... a wide array ranging from:
  • gentle acceptance of God's sovereignty to begging and pleading for healing,
  • guilt that I wasn't there to protect him and my initial anger towards my husband who was there but didn't,
  • choosing to question God and let Him know my extreme displeasure at this set of circumstances,
  • asking angry Why's? then gently seeking "How are You using this to grow Jon, to grow our family,... to grow me?"
Really, there are too many extremes to list.

I can say, without doubt, that being hostage to these tumultuous emotions and ranging thoughts does not result in either peace or liberty - promises that are mine to claim, if I would learn to truly trust... and thankfulness was either fleeting or forced.

I'm relieved to share that the outcome of this particular incident is one where my desires agreed with the God's plan. After the initial injury and a day with absolutely no improvement, we consulted with an optometrist friend who said that the cornea was definitely scratched, twice. She recommended we see an ophthamalogist. We did. He told us that the cornea was both lacerated and ulcerated - and then that a shard of wood had penetrated the globe of the eye and was still embedded in the cornea. Jonathan would eventually need surgery to remove the piece of wood from his eye. Surgery in a place like Niger is a scary word because here that could very well mean medical evacuation. The doctor recommended waiting a bit, continuing with ointments and drops to encourage healing - because as the cornea heals, it tends to push foreign objects towards the surface, resulting in a better prognosis for any future surgery.

Last Saturday Tim took Jon back to the ophthalmologist. The doctor looked into his eye, looked up at Tim and said “Oh! The splinters are gone.” Tim’s response? "Splinters?" and then: “Praise God!” In one week's time, we went from probable surgery to a very particular and tender demonstration of God’s love, care and kindness. This past week, as the cornea continued to heal, the pieces of the branch that still remained  a week ago (and nearly 1 month after the initial accident) had been pushed up and out – and all the way out of his eye. In no way so I want to imply that God wouldn't have loved and cared if He'd chosen not to answer our prayers in this way way, yet we are very thankful that He did. Frankly, though, I don't know if I'd be writing this if He'd chosen a different path for us... for while my head knows... my heart struggles.

I don't know exactly what the answer is. I'm agreeing wholeheartedly with Ann today when she writes: "A woman can know faith in her head and fear in her heart." I can confess this lack of gentle, confident trust as sin one moment... live in the gift of each moment, having peace and freedom from worry and control the next... and then start the cycle if distrust and discontent with the whole kaboodle all over again when Jonathan needed drops in his eye, his patch changed, or asked to go lay down because his one good eye was simply tuckered out.

It has felt very much, if not like a thorn in my flesh, then maybe like a sliver continually poking and prodding around in my heart... not unlike those splinters lodged in my boy's eye. This "thorn" in my life, an at times paralyzing fear for the well-being of one of my children, not only serves to keep me humble (as Paul said), but continually drives me to communion with God because I not only see how desperately weak and helpless I am - I live and breath it... so much so that at times I am incapacitated by it. Now, if I could just learn to be OK with this... accepting it also as God's kindness and good grace...
"...for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself!" (2 Cor 12:7b, NASB)

this week's gratitude list
(#s 1799 - 1826)

splinter stories - even when the lessons are still very much in process and far from mastered

the way God made corneas to heal

our own, very personal miracle of healing

testifying to the ophthamalogist that this was all God

seeing both of those bright, big blue eyes minus shades or a patch

little boy running wild once again

7 year old artist using both of his eyes to draw quite detailed still-lifes

big cousin watching younger cousin at her horseback riding lesson

softball and kickball on New Year's Eve

totally homemade smores - marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars - around our campfire

immediately devoured Nestle chocolate bars sent to the kiddos by a friend

fewer coughing episodes throughout the night

vacation jam sessions in the living room

safe canoeing adventures - despite one close call with a hippo

this time seeing elephants and lions... not just the signs of them...

a friend who helped me with the sickies who had to stay home and couldn't take the camping trip to the game park

baguette pizza and a movie... with chocolate chip cookies for dessert

two different hot water heaters - to double up the steamy shower capacity for croupy little ones

coke and Pringles for tummies that don't think anything else sounds possible

waterbed heaters for sickies who have the chills

finally starting the process of cleaning my desk

another one has finally mastered the skill of bike riding

staying in my jammies all day... even when being sick is the excuse for doing so

another bread maker in the family... Yay Tori!!!

challenging Bible reading plans... and the fact that His mercies are new every morning

developing good new habits

organizing videos, dvds and cds - even when it is a never-ending project

heart to hearts with almost 9 year olds

1 comment:

  1. Very glad to hear that your son's eye is splinter-free. My kids are adults now but I still fret about them, then turn my worry over to God. (Sometimes more quickly than others.) Thank you for sharing your list this week. Blessings!


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