Friday, July 18, 2014

Borrowed Prayers

I am borrowing prayers.

Right now, prayer is hard. I have had lots of times in my life when prayer has been hard but not like now. When we found out we were having twins, my often-breathed prayers for the health and safety of my babies doubled. Lord, let them be healthy. Keep them safe. When we learned that the babies were our Livia and Lucy, and that their lives were in danger, I learned for the first time in my life what it means to "pray without ceasing." All throughout those three long, difficult days my heart was praying even when my lips were silent. When the doctor in Texas gently told me that our girls had died, the first thing out of my mouth was an involuntary, "Oh, God, no!" It wasn't profanity. It was the anguished cry of my heart before the Lord, pleading for a different outcome than what we'd just been given. That night Nate and I held each other close and listened on the speaker phone as our pastor and his wife prayed with us. My body was already contracting, and at that point all I wanted was to get to Colorado so I could deliver our girls someplace familiar, and with my older sister there. Let me get to Colorado, please, God, was my silent cry through that long night as I moved about the hotel room, exhausted but unable to sleep because of the contractions that came every hour. And then, in Colorado, in a hospital room three days later, with those contractions now coming so strong and on-top of each other that I had only seconds to rally between each one, I clenched Nate's hand and breathed into the pillows, please Jesus, let my water break! Let this be almost over! 

It was almost over. My water did break. Our beautiful daughters were born soon after, and I held them as we all cried.

And my prayers stopped.

Because I had begged God to keep my girls safe, but His definition of safe– safe in His arms, not mine– was not what I wanted. Is still not what I want. And I didn't know what to say. Three and a half weeks later, and most of the time I still don't. For days after returning home to Sumter, I was angry. I knew if I tried to pray, it would turn into lashing out. Accusations. Bitter questions that would get no answer. Why, God?!

I think the anger is over now... perhaps it will return periodically. Perhaps it won't. I'm new to this wilderness land of grief, a country where it feels as if anything is possible, where days start out in sunshine and end in hurricanes, and where peaceful sunsets follow tornadoes. There seems to be only one certainty– Jesus is Lord of this land, too.

And with that certainty, there is comfort, even when it comes to not being able to pray. Somehow, He knows– He understands this stumbling path, and He is patient. I found it strange that even in those moments when I have doubted His goodness, I never doubted His patience with me in my doubt. That's why I've been borrowing prayers. I believe He understands my lack, my inability to use my own words, and He's sending me the words of others to fill my need.

I won't put them all up at once– I'll post them over time. If you are reading this because you are grieving for Livia and Lucy too, or if you are grieving for any other reason, I hope that they speak to you as they have to me, and that in turn you can speak them back to God.

This one came today, unexpectedly. Our pastor asked me if I can play piano for church Sunday after next, so I started looking through my music to pick out an offertory. I played through a few pieces and then, because it was in the same book, through an arrangement of "Be Still My Soul." I wasn't planning on choosing that piece, but when I was done it occurred to me that I didn't know any of the words, so I got online to look them up. When I read them, it was clear to me that this is my offertory, and even clearer that this is a prayer for me and for my heart.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. 

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below. 

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away. 

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last. 

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay/From His own fullness all He takes away

I don't know why He chose to take away. And I don't know how even His fullness, His goodness, can repay what we've lost. But I don't have to know how or why to pray it, again and again, until I learn how to trust it, and believe it, and cling to it.

1 comment:

  1. Amen.
    Meredith, I'm tracking backward, from today, October 15. To experience your expressions of your pain backward, as they become progressively more raw and recent, makes one thing glow: your trust in God's faithfulness. He is carrying you and Nate, and Livia and Lucy are in His arms.