One of my greatest fears came April 19, 2011. That gnawing anxiety enslaved my mind and I couldn’t think clearly. It directed my thoughts, holding me captive.
Three weeks earlier, I went into premature labor at 29 weeks. The doctor grabbed my shoulders tight and said, “You’re having an emergency C-section in thirty minutes.” At 7:30pm, our triplets were born, averaging 2.5 pounds each.
As I looked through the incubators at their tiny bodies covered in tubes, I was in a daze, but also in awe over our three miracles.
On April 19th, the doctor told us that our daughter, Brooklyn, had contracted a life-threatening infection that was rapidly killing her intestine. At three pounds, three weeks old, she would need surgery to remove the infected segment of intestine.
The fear that I was to blame tiptoed through my mind.
My hands pressed against the incubator windows, connecting with her in any way I could, as she lay there with a swelled belly, helpless. I sang, “I love you, Lord” over her every single day, again and again. I didn’t know what else to do.
After surgery, we desperately looked for any sign of improvement. There were none.
Later that day, I curled up in bed, tears drenching my pillow, as I ached for our child to survive. The tormenting fear that it might have been my fault whirled through my mind like a tornado: If I had rested more, maybe Brooklyn wouldn’t be going through this? What could I have done differently?
I had to redirect the fiery arrows attacking my thoughts. During one of the long drives to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I finally did it. I deflected those arrows and shifted my thoughts from myself onto Jesus. When remnants of regrets surfaced, I repeatedly chose faith in him. Over and over again.
Two days after the surgery, the doctor told us Brooklyn’s intestine perforated and the infection was spreading through her body. Her only chance to survive was attempting one more surgery. My piercing screams echoed through the halls – the weakest moment of my life.
Brooklyn slept in her incubator as they rolled her down the hall for the second surgery. Just before reaching the double doors, her courageous eyes opened and met ours, a moment branded in my heart.
During those grueling hours in the waiting room, we continued pouring our hearts out to the Lord for our three-week-old baby girl.
Within twenty-four hours, Brooklyn showed improvement! We finally received the greatest news we have ever heard: “Brooklyn is a miracle baby.”
She fully recovered and is now a thriving seven-year-old girl, and I am so grateful.
However, the pain from that time has not left my heart. I think of those of you who had a different outcome, and I hurt for you. I think of those going through hard times as I write this sentence. I don’t know what your difficult thing is – what pains your heart so deeply it physically hurts when your mind wanders to that place.
But I know Jesus meets you there when you call out to him, in whatever way you are capable of doing.
Over time, I’ve realized that every outcome is not the result of a domino effect beginning with me.
If you are soaking in the blame for something difficult in your life, wishing you could rewrite it, rest in Jesus’ bountiful grace. As Psalm 130 says, “… put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is FULL redemption.”
If you are lost in a maze of self-blame, find comfort in the parable Jesus shared in Luke 15. A shepherd had 100 sheep. When one wandered off, he left the 99 who were well to go after the one who was not; the one who was lost; the one who was in need. He lifted that little lamb upon his shoulders and carried him home, rejoicing that he found his lost sheep.
He also rejoices in you, and will carry you when you call out to him.
The Lord raised Jesus out of the darkest places this world has ever seen and he can do the same for you. “Come to me,” Jesus says. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” MT 11:28