In the abyss between life and death resides only faith. Experts call this abyss “Motherhood.”
Lying on a cold, hard bed only six months along with my first child, I faced the frightening implications of this truth. My body shook uncontrollably as abject terror clutched at me. My only lifeline was my husband’s hand clutching mine over the abyss as love for life – mine and the tiny, still-unseen child’s – burned deep in our hearts. One after another after another the nurses piled the bloody sheets into the corner until the doctor pronounced those fateful words, “The baby’s coming.”
Only then, with control slipping past me into a haze of drugs and fear, did I make that one, final leap – the leap from control to faith – the leap from childlessness into motherhood.
My next recollection was my husband’s hand once again holding mine as he said the words that officially changed my life, “We have a little girl.”
The images of the next two months blurred together as ups and downs alternated at break-neck speed. One minute spent holding my two-pound and yet weightless daughter in my arms versus the next three weeks spent holding only tiny fingers through the isolet window-waiting for the next opportunity to take my baby out of the incubator again.
The drugs, powerful enough to keep her safe from infection, again and again blew through her small veins while all I could do was watch, pray, and hang onto the faith that somehow we would get through this. If we could just make it to the next horizon, through the next transfusion and the next round of drugs, then I could live again. Until then survival was my only goal.
In the darkness of a soul in crisis, my prayers became much deeper. No longer were they for selfish requests. Now they were centered wholly on the tiny baby God had entrusted to my care. The Lord has said, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Psalms 55:22), and during those long days, that was what kept me going.
As good as that sounds, however, reality was that my only real positives at the time were formed by the negatives. “It’s not pneumonia.” “It’s not an infection.” “We won’t have to put the IV in her head-this time.” The struggle to live was being waged not only by the tiny baby lying helplessly in the incubator, but by her mother’s spirit as well. Fear laced every call to the hospital, every question, every conversation. But always the faith remained. Somehow we would make it. Somehow God sustained me. Somehow.
Then in one faltered heartbeat the negatives became negatives again, and I faced a test of faith more terrifying than my own journey through the abyss – my baby’s journey to the edge of the River Jordan. All her veins had been blown, and a new IV would have to go in her head – all the other options had been exhausted.
In utter desperation my husband and I left the hospital, and on a rain-soaked highway with the amber glow of the streetlights flashing above me, I reached a place that I never even knew existed – the place where faith no longer resides.
“Why?” I asked the darkness around me. “Why?”
But God has promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), and I am here to tell you, He does send messengers to help when you ask. Truth is, mine was sitting right by my side – exactly where he had been through the whole ordeal. Slowly my husband reached over, took my hand, and spoke the words that I would cling to not only for this one night but for the rest of eternity. “She’s going to be okay. You’ve just got to have faith.”
Every day for the next five years that faith has been tested over and over again. Every time I let my baby-big girl, now-off at play school. Every time my second daughter lets go of my hand and walks off on her own. Every time one child or the other screams in pain or in fear at two o’clock in the morning – the words come back to me, “She’s going to be okay. You’ve just got to have faith.”
In the days to come, the phrase will only become more powerful. During the long nights when the girls fail to call and on the days when they experience their own griefs, the words will be there to help me through. Time and again as I hold my children for one brief moment and then release them into the abyss, the words will be there.
Through school, best friends, boyfriends, first dates, first heartbreaks, in partnership with God and my husband, I will remain the rock on which these two girls can build their lives. Until someday in some beautiful sunlit church, I will watch from a front pew as they stand before God and pledge themselves to another forever. Then as they turn, kiss me, and walk away into their own lives, the words will again be there. “She’s going to be okay. You’ve just got to have faith.”
The day will come of course when the abyss will stretch before me again “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).
In some darkened room on another cold, hard bed I will step toward the abyss to make my final journey home. However, this time I will have not one but three sets of hands to hold onto. Then, looking up into the eyes of the two beautiful women my daughters have become, the sadness at our imminent parting will be there, but a greater understanding will hold me also.
Beyond a doubt, I know that as I slip from the darkness of this world into the light beyond, I will hear that voice one more time: “They’re going to be okay. You’ve just got to have faith.”