You know that abrupt screeching sound an old vinyl record makes when stopped?
Yesterday that sound played on my life when I sent my five-year-old off to school.
There I was swaying away to the familiar music of my stay-at-home-mom-to-a-little life when
the record stopped.
It wasn't unexpected in an immediate sense, of course. I had been anticipating and even welcoming this day since Arie came home almost three years ago. It's exciting to send a child to school! He is going to make new friends, explore new challenges, be confronted with new perspectives, and blossom into the adult he wants to be. That's all good stuff. I'm not sad about sending him to school. He's ready. I'm ready.
|Ready for school!|
As fertility treatments and procedures failed, the silence that loomed beyond Arie's first day of school loomed large. When finally I conceived early last spring, expecting a baby mid-fall, I rejoiced in the perfect timing! I'd send one child off to school just in time to welcome another home. Perfect.
Then I miscarried.
When the shock and grief began to lift a few months later I had to face the reality of what was happening. I thought, "Okay. This record is going to screetch to a halt very soon. What I am going to do when the music stops?"
Here's the thing I learned this summer: What I needed less was to figure out what to do in the silence, but how to be at peace with it. How to be at peace with empty arms, a quiet house, no cradle in the nursery, no stroller on the sidewalk, no baby at my breast. How to be at peace in the silence.
Last spring, I didn't feel very peaceful about any of this. Rather I felt desperate, angry, hollow. When I opened my bible I kept going back to 1 Samuel to connect with Hannah, another barren woman. Hannah prays so fervently, so desperately, for a child that a priest who witnesses her prayers asks her if she is drunk. Boy do I know those kind of prayers. She corrects the priest by saying, "I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer. I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
"pouring out my soul to the LORD"
"praying here out of my great anguish and grief."
Thank you, Hannah for not mincing words. Yes. This is what I have felt. I understand those kind of prayers.
The desperate form of Hannah's prayer caught my attention but so did the content. It wasn't just how she prayed but what she prayed:
"LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life..."
"Your servant" - that's the phrase that caught my attention. I found it so interesting that she was able to be both miserable and humble. Personally when I'm miserable I'm also pretty angry because this is not fair! I admit: I've done some heavenward first shaking in my infertility journey.
Maybe I'm the only one. ;-)
That phrase "your servant" immediately made me think of another woman in the Bible: Mary.
In Luke 1, Mary is visited by an angel who tells her that she- a virgin- will give birth to a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. She responds, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me according to your word."
Here we have two women- one who has not received the child for whom she longs and the other who receives a child she was not expecting- both of whom name themselves servants. Both of whom humble themselves before the LORD.
As I flipped the pages of my Bible back and forth between these two stories I thought, "I'm going to try that." I'm going to try pray both those prayers- of Hannah and of Mary.
Over the course of the summer I've attempted to internalize my own meshed version of those prayers that goes something like, "LORD God, please look upon your servant's misery and grant her a child. I am your servant. May it be to me according to your will."
This prayer has changed me.
Yes I still long for a child, deeply. But when I pray this prayer, the excruciating hollowness inside me floods with peace.
It's not a peace that promises me a child, but a peace that promises me I'm going to survive this, when honestly I didn't know before if I could. It's a peace that promises a future. And joy.
Yesterday when the record ripped to a halt, I found myself at peace with the silence. In the peace and silence I am receiving new words from my Father, new direction, new purpose... new music.