Sunday, July 5, 2015

B is for Bailey

I get asked one particular question pretty often over here. With all the loss I've seen and experienced, people want to know how I still see God as good, or if I do. People want to know how or if I can keep my faith in God through all of the heartache that often finds us here.

That's a huge question with an answer that changes frequently. There's a short, pat answer that I can give to people I don't know well enough to really hand my heart over to them. But then there's a real answer, a real wrestling, a real relationship behind those big questions. 

I think God made my heart different. I think he gave me a capacity to see sadness and darkness and still carry on. But even with that God-given ability to bear heavy loads, there's a limit. There's never a baby that has died that hasn't caused me to stop and say, "Whoa. Hold on God. This is not as it should be. I don't get you. Stop this please."  The frequency of heartache takes away none of its sting, at least not for me. Each time a new loss occurs, so does a whole new wrestling match with God. It gets a little tiring. 

But there was one baby, one life, that changed my prayers and my heart and the nature of my wrestling matches. It used to be a wrestling to almost have God prove to me that he's still good. That these things can happen and innocent babies can die, but I can still trust him. I wasn't sure about that, and I added each new loss into the column against him, of reasons I couldn't trust him or maybe even ways he'd failed me. 

But then there was Bailey. And all of the babies that came before her had paved a way and prepared my heart for her and what God would reveal to me through her. And through her and her life and death God was somehow continuing to prepare me for all who would come after her.

She was 700 grams. About a pound and a half. They didn't have an incubator at the hospital and had no real options after her mom died and left her family-less there. They knew she would never make it, but asked us to take her anyway because how can you not try? 

My sister and cousins were with me and took turns staying up every hour through the night watching her little chest rise and fall, watching her stop breathing and gently pounding her little heart to remind it to keep beating, taking her temperature to make sure the incubator was at the right setting, dropping little bits of milk into her tiny mouth. And for three days, 72 long and short hours, my people battled with me for life for Bailey. I had unintentionally invited them into this heartache, and they gripped that little life with all the love they could possibly give. 

But what was expected came to be, and she eventually stopped breathing for longer and longer stretches until we just couldn't resuscitate her. 

And I'll never forget sitting on the edge of that bed, holding Bailey's lifeless body, and saying over and over and over again, "If she lives, you are good. If she dies, you are still good." And for some reason in that moment, I believed that maybe for the first time deep down. I just resolved that I can trust him and his goodness. That there is nothing he can do that changes what I know of his character, even when I'm not skilled to understand.

So to answer that question, all I really know to say is that God is still good and I can still trust him. And to some people that's not enough. It sounds trite and un-thought through and simplistic. But it's not those things at all to me. It's deep and complex and a hard choice to keep making when things are confusing and chaotic. But it's true. It's what everything else hinges on, so I keep claiming it. It doesn't make it any easier to accept the losses and so much mourning still must go on. But it's nice to rest in the assurance that God is still good. He just is.