Tuesday, January 19, 2016

He Danced With Me

We are coming up on our one year post placement meeting with our social worker. When she emailed me to make the appointment I was shocked. How has it already been nearly a year? It feels like last week. Truly.

Looking back on this year I don't even know how to put it to words. This is the year that God brought me to the very end of myself and asked me to keep walking. This is the year when everything I thought I had figured out about my life, my heart, my soul, fell to pieces. It was, quite frankly, my undoing. I was not strong enough to do this.

Last February I was handed one tiny, fragile eleven pound four year old. She called me "Mama," on the very first day, and then nearly collapsed for days to come. She couldn't walk, couldn't drink, couldn't crawl. And I thought God was asking too much. 

And then God handed me another four year old. I had loved her for years, watched her video a million times. I knew her, but then I didn't. She wasn't the same. We will never know if or when something happened to her. But she simply couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. My heart was weeping as I was trying to hold it together while trying to bond with a daughter who could communicate nothing but growls back to me. 

I never thought of myself as weak. Until this year. I crumbled. Do not believe the lie that God will never give you too much. He does and He will. And it was too much. For the first time in my life I dealt with anxiety. I had to lift her up and tell a consulate worker that I knew this was likely all she would become. I listened to the words "wheelchair, degenerative disease, short lifespan, nonverbal." And it was too much. In the moment I looked strong, put together, holding my own. But I wasn't. I came home and days later found my emotions spilling out at all the wrong times. I have anxiety attacks that leave me shivering on the ground, teeth chattering, trying to catch a breath. 

And yet, one year later as I look back I would describe this year as the year that He danced with me. I broke in ways I never thought possible, but I felt His presence so deeply, so constantly, so abundantly that I never feared for tomorrow. I would say to him "Are you sure? I don't know that I can do this today. Help me, Jesus, because I am falling." This was the year that I was able to admit my limit, my own deep weakness and allow Him to guide me completely. The only way to describe it is to say that He took my hands and led me through a glorious, trembling dance of one year of tragic beauty.

I simply awoke in the mornings and knew deep within my soul that although the gates of hell were knocking on our doors, He was standing in my place. And I hid. I hid behind Him. To society, I am sure it seemed I was cowardly, but the truth is that I was hiding in Him. He was taking those moments and healing our family. He took tragedy after tragedy and whispered beauty back to me. He made me trust and truly believe that this was all going to be okay, regardless of the outcome. He shielded me. 

When everyone told us that what we should expect from our daughters was next to nothing, He whispered hope back to my heart. I hid and I believed in His impossibilities. I heard doctors say, "She will need a wheelchair. She will never walk." And I walked out and listened to Him, the One Who Redeems. As I tucked her into her carseat, I took her face into my hands and I said to her, "You can do this. I know you can. You will walk." 

And she did. She walked. We returned months later and she jumped in front of that same doctor. And smiles broke the faces that once offered me tissues.

Everyone said she couldn't talk. And I prayed for her to prove everyone wrong. I prayed for God to let me hear one word as His gift to me, just to let me hear, "Mama." And each night as I tucked her in I repeated one phrase to her, "You are beautiful. You are loved. You are safe. You can do this. I believe in you." And in a whisper even quieter, because it was such a ridiculous belief that I was afraid to even speak it, but yet, I believed it just enough to whisper right into her ear, "I believe you will talk. You can do this, Ellie."

And one day she took my face in her hands, kissed my lips, and said, "Mama."

I have watched miracle after miracle this year. I have seen and sat long in dark moments. One year ago I was terrified beyond my imagination. I took one moment at a time. I granted kisses when I felt fearful. I gave hugs when they didn't feel natural. I have fed so many spoonfuls of food that I couldn't possibly count them. I have lost my temper more than my fair share of times. Days were hard, but the year passed me by so quickly.

And I hardly remember anything but the beauty. Was it hard? Oh my stars, yes. Was it too hard? Yes, it was. But He came and led me into beauty. We have danced on ashes, my Friends. God on high, saw my need, and stepped down to take over when it was too much. And it was then that I saw His glory, His mercy, His love. In the middle of a world gone mad, He danced with me.