I wasn’t planning to write again this soon. One, I didn’t feel like I would have time (and perhaps, normally, I wouldn’t make time). Two, I am still highly overwhelmed, and three, I don’t want to seem like I am posting constantly about all of this because it makes me feel highly self-centered. But…tonight I couldn’t help it. After putting the kids to bed, and quite a full day, I snuck away to the office to process and put pen to paper.
When I first found out about the delivery complications that await me, I didn’t feel anything. Most notably, I didn’t feel God’s presence in the slightest. This wasn’t a new thing. To be quite honest, I haven’t felt his presence in quite some time. I never doubted Him. I knew He existed. I new He loved me. But somewhere, there was a disconnect, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was exactly. I’ve heard my whole life that God never moves-we are the ones that move away from Him. However, I felt like I had been in the same spot for months, and that He had simply grown cold.
I haven’t been in a great place in the last several months. I wasn’t planning on this pregnancy. I stayed exhausted to the core, and my life had been full of “drama” to put it mildly. From dealing with complicated family matters, to Covid-19 and between, I simply was struggling with all that was on my plate….not to mention being a full-time stay-at-home mom during an international lockdown. I started seeing a Christian counselor regularly and have since really worked on my view of myself, my view of my family, and most notably my view of God. It turns out some pretty adverse experiences have shaped my perception of Him to the point that I realized that I really didn’t know His heart. Of course, we had a personal relationship, but at the end of the day, in all honesty, I didn’t know Him intimately, and I definitely didn’t trust Him fully.
Please don’t mistake this lack of trust on my part as a lack of salvation. I accepted that gift long ago and know that it is secure. This lack of trust wasn’t surface level. It was much deeper. The kind that you don’t face head on until you’ve been in a relationship for quite some time. It’s the silent, but toxic kind. It infiltrates your perceptions, decisions and ultimately your intimacy with the other party.
Once I realized that this was a serious-and very prevalent-issue, I began to pray to see the heart of God. To experience what it truly was. To know, not based on my warped theological perceptions (many I had developed myself) but based on a true encounter, that His heart was indeed good.
This diagnosis was not what I had in mind as a response to that plea.
I called a friend soon after receiving the news of the accreta to explain what was going on and how we were moving forward. In the course of our conversation, I told her the following: “I just feel really distant from God right now. I don’t know what to pray. I don’t know what to say. I know He loves me. I just feel like He’s standing across from me and we’re both looking at one another but nobody is saying anything.” That mental image has been stuck in my head for days as it truly is the most accurate description of my relationship with Him at the moment even as I type this out. There are no words. There is no movement. We are simply across from one another, silent, eyes locked. And the wind is howling.
I have felt guilty and downright sinful for feeling this way. I tried to convince myself that surely there was a study or devotional or some prayer I could utter to make my head and my heart connect. If there was any time I needed an abundance of faith, it was now. And instead, here I was, facing the biggest storm of my life thus far, silent, numb and totally still. Not one part of me felt full of faith-or even full of feelings. Instead I felt empty, and downright numb.
Then today, it dawned on me: Peter. Walking on water.
The familiar story is a Sunday School classic and the basis for many sermons and teachings. It can be found in Matthew 14, verses 22-32. I re-read it tonight and sure enough, it hit home. It wasn’t Peter’s doubt this time though that caught my attention (that’s often what is preached here); it was Peter’s eyes locked on Jesus in the midst of the storm. Maybe in our focus on what Peter did wrong here, we’ve overlooked what He did right, even if but briefly.
Have you ever experienced a storm on the ocean? It’s loud. The winds are fierce. The rain is piercing. The waves are big, and it’s really hard to see. The last time we went to the beach as a family, my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I got caught (a LONG ways away from our condo) in a storm on the ocean’s edge. I thought my legs were going to bleed from the pelting rain and could barely hear the instructions of those I was with due to the loud, forceful wind. In a similar fashion to our friend Peter, my first instinct was to tuck my head and look down.
Perhaps, though the tone is difficult to decipher through the text, Peter didn’t look down in maliciously sinful doubt, but out of sheer instinct when facing the storm. Doubt is only a natural response to fear. When rain is pelting you in the face, it’s only a natural response to look down.
And when I realized this, all of the sudden, Jesus didn’t feel so far away. I realized the rain is hard, the wind is howling, the waves are big, and I just can’t hear Him right now. But oddly enough, that’s not the important thing when faced with a storm. The important thing is I keep my eyes right where they are locked: on Him.
Last week I wrote that I was spinning, just trying to find a place to focus. And though my circumstances, knowledge, feelings and faith, or lack thereof, are all still exactly the same today as they have been for days……I think I just found where to keep my gaze.