on the road marked with suffering: stumbling through prayer.

October 8, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 21 Comments

As the trees are marked with the burning flames of autumn, another child dies.

Another one receives a diagnosis, a terminal, life altering one.

Another one falls prey to wickedness. Another dies from lack of water, from lack of love, from lack of shelter.

Another mother loses the child within her, nearly ready to be born. Another finds out her body can’t hold the seeds of life.

The road is marked with suffering.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth, will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace. {song}

These words come to mind today, this past week, as I’ve been mulling over our journey, their journey, this suffering, the pain and searing loss that so many seem to face. Some, again and again. Recently in the (blog) world, a family lost their little one to brain cancer. I watched as it all unfolded, how the veil was thin, and they prayed, and she passed away on Saturday.

I’ve been trying to reconcile with it, have a heart to heart with it, and to no avail. My hands wet with soapy water, scrubbing pots in the sink, I hear the words: suffering. I put the pot down to dry, turn the tap off, watch the condensation drip down the window in front of me. I’m tired of this. I don’t want to dwell on this any longer.

But how can I not? When every time I hear of someone getting a cold, I think, what if that is us next? And what if we have to go to the Emergency Room, watch them intubate her again, watch her die?

Why am I dwelling on these things? I tell myself I should know better.

I am reminded gently of the trauma, prodded back into the corner where I faced my greatest suffering to date, when Florence suffered. It is the trauma that is marring me with memories, it’s the trauma I need to overcome. I realize now that I haven’t walked through it. I’ve shoved it aside, swallowed it whole, left it there to lump and rot in my throat.

It will come back in fierce color: her pale face stricken with fear, the movement of her skin against ribs, taught and struggling to breathe through a collapsed lung. During a church service, I think of that indigo coloured couch in the PICU waiting room, where we sat with her empty stroller, her discarded purple pyjamas. This was the place where the trauma came in rolling waves, stabbing our hearts and stomachs and heads with relentless fear. It was 2:00AM. We thought she would die. At that moment, I told myself I wouldn’t do this again, I wouldn’t let them separate me from her if she was going to die.

We saw her many hours later. The tube down her throat, the heavy eyes with that look, that hovering on the fence look. I shake my head, rid myself of these memories.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim…

I’m afraid of trauma. Aren’t we all? Parents with sick children sometimes live a world of impending trauma. I have to talk myself out of that world some days, between nap time and bath time, I may wrestle with it twenty times. Twenty times, my mind has pondered trauma. I’ve led my heart down that road, too many times to count.

And I am tired.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus…

And when I get tired, I lose the fight.

I whisper, “Jesus, just take her without pain, let it be quick.” And then I scramble, “But don’t take her, heal her and make her whole.” And then I continue, “And please Abba, don’t let us go through this again, no more children with this disease…no more God…”

I clunk this ugly prayer down at His feet. Some of those words feel like a mistake. I shouldn’t have said those things. I should have held onto hope. I shouldn’t dwell on death. I pile guilt upon myself, dig in to lashings of self-reproach. It is all so dramatic and I’m confused and don’t know what to say anymore. Looking at pictures of her, I see she has more curls now, and less strength. I get distracted from prayer again—look at what I’m missing, rather than what I have, focus on what has been lost, not what’s been won. The natural, cruel world sways me into treason.

Look full in His wonderful face…

I want to bring a sacrifice of praise instead. I start over. Head in my hands, I rub the sleep from my eyes, retie my hair into a bun. I want to be thankful instead, I want a place to lay my head and rest. You see, life goes on in the midst of these prayers.

A mama prays for the life of her child, sings songs of thanksgiving, and she’s still in her pyjamas, on her second cup of coffee, waiting until her child has a nap so she can shower. It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t.
I don’t want it captured on Instagram, don’t want to share it.

It is in the silence, sometimes in the loneliness, where I seek God, press on until I see His face on this day. On every day.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace…

He always meets me here, in my bedraggled state. When I have no tears, no offering to lay at His feet, except words of praise. Forced words at that. But slowly, and not often steadily, my heart swells, unrelenting praise comes forth, true thanksgiving. It is no longer forced, it is not religious. It is who I am.

I was made for this, to lay down my life. He said when, (not if) I walk through dark waters, I will not be alone. He said I would touch the blaze, face searing flames and not be consumed  (Isaiah 43:2).

Do I trust this? Do I trust Him?

Enough to bring a sacrifice of praise, when my mind is telling me give up. I trust Him enough to know fear from truth, life from death.

I choose life.

florence in standing frame

21 Comments

  • Reply Melissa Naiad October 9, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Your writing is so beautiful and your spirituality is so inspiring. I love reading your blog. <3

    • Reply Michaela. October 9, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Oh thank you Melissa. I love our blog friendship 🙂

  • Reply manila2008 October 9, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    ‘facing death and leaning into life’.

  • Reply manila2008 October 9, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Dear one,
    Yes, we are in the valley of the shadow. If only every Christian would know it, it is true. We do not end with death, however, we begin there. Walter Wangerin describes it as such: “For death dances a hundred dances around us each day and we refuse to look at it, and acknowledge its presence.” (paraphrased from the book ‘Mourning into Dancing’.) Into this beginning, there is the radical good news of the gospel – that even in the midst of death’s intent, there is life – a strong light!, an overcoming light that cannot be extinguished and WILL have the last word. For the light shines in the darkness of the shadow, and nothing can overcome it, not even death. Until one day there will be no more tears on God’s holy mountain, death will be fully dead with only life left – only God’s light and love for us and with us – finally life as it was meant to me.
    (Can’t wait for this day!) But until then, my intent is to look for the strength of the light in the death that is all around me and in me; to let this light of God hold me, love me, strengthen me, comfort me, bring healing, lead me and those I love, home.

    It is there, right where we are. I find it. You are finding it. I see God’s light in your story, in your beautiful and vulnerable prayers – clunky and all – and in your soft heart that keeps facing and leaning into Life. (capital L)

    Bless you. Bless your child, bless your family. I, a stranger, stand with you and pray beside you. May you be protected and strengthened; may you be comforted and blessed; may you find a surprising joy today. May you see the grace of God’s love, in every place you look, this day, in every suffering you encounter. And in all that is tender, may you know the power of life, and the hope of the gospel. Peace.

    • Reply Michaela. October 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      Wow. I’m at a loss for words.
      This was put so beautifully, and just speaks to my heart. Thank you. I love that quote. I may have to look into that book. Thank you again for writing and ministering to my heart! It means a lot.

      • Reply manila2008 October 9, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        and so now we have blessed each other. Keep on, Michaela. In Christ.

  • Reply joecruzmn October 8, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Reblogged this on These Christian Times and commented:
    A sleeping church should see the things that a suffering Christian goes through in their darkest time. We are asleep at the wheel, yet a mother struggles with the suffering of a child. Please read this courageous story about what suffering means and how despite the huge storm that approaches this woman’s family she stand tall and praises in the storm. Sleeping Christian please wake up and look at the world around you. Never take your one breathe for granted. Never take your life for granted and always stand firm in your darkest time. There is another link that I highly recommend you click on in this blog. PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO CLICK ON THAT LINK ALSO AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR AN EMOTIONAL RIDE. It is time for the Church to wake up

  • Reply Sophie October 8, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Your Papa in heaven has got your back 🙂

  • Reply Tania October 8, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    You, my beautiful friend are a gift and a witness and i see so much strenght and grace in each and every post, update and IG photo. The ugly places, the dry parched places, the places scarred with trauma will be made beautiful. I don’t know when and i don’t know how but i lean hard into that truth for you amd for myself and for all of us. You are so loved xoxo

    • Reply Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Ahhh Tania, thank you. And thank you for leaning into those places with me and for me. I believe too. And I believe it for you too. Much love to you.

  • Reply Wanda October 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I’ve been following your blogs for a while, I think of you and your lovely daughter often , she is a blessing, as are you. I am learning form your journey as well, it has made me
    more understanding and caring individual and a better nurse. Blessed Be Lovely Ladies…..

    • Reply Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      This means a lot to me! Thank you for sharing Wanda. I think it’s a precious thing that you serve others and that you are learning with me.

  • Reply child of God October 8, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Michaela, you express yourself well, so well that the emotions that were arising in me while I read were very sorrowful and I got that all familiar feeling I get in my stomach when I am going through tragedy. I feel your pain and hurt and I agree with you that you need to go through those pushed away emotions you felt while Florence was in the trauma room. You need to keep yourself healthy and strong so you can look after her and pent up feelings need to be released or you will become sick. God can handle it, those prayers that are all over the place. He already knows how you feel without you even saying a word and He loves you deeply and understands your grief, insecurity fear. Often, I am so thankful that Jesus was also a man who can relate to our suffering and knows the limitations we have in these bodies. Often I am so thankful that He was called a man of sorrow and can fully relate to the sorrow we face here on earth.

    Praying for you hon. Praying often for Father to come in and wash you in His love, to sustain you in these days and to seek healing here on earth for your beautiful daughter Florence.

    • Reply Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Yes I am learning, don’t worry…:) I’m learning to let the trauma go. It’s just more of a process than I thought!

  • Reply crochetingbeautiful October 8, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    your words are beautiful.

    • Reply Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Well thank you and thanks for visiting and saying hello!

      • Reply crochetingbeautiful October 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        I hope I did not offend you, honestly I was lost for words as I read your blog, and all I could think was through everything she/they have been through she writes of faith, hope and love, and I kept thinking beauty.

        • Reply Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

          Oh! I’m not offended! Why would you think that?

          • crochetingbeautiful October 8, 2013 at 2:11 PM

            because the comment started with well, which probably makes me sound crazy.

          • Michaela. October 8, 2013 at 6:52 PM

            Ha ha it’s ok! Internet. Makes us sound crazy! No worries.

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