He calls me out, whispers through my heart, His unmistakeable voice, presence. Warmth. I can almost feel his feathery touch, pulling me to Him, where He will wrap his arms around me and I can be free. He holds my hand, even through the painful realization he’s taking me on, this journey. My heart beats hard and the tears flow freely and I can’t help but want to take off my shoes.
He whispers across my barren soul, right into the dry desert places, the burning, painful places.
Empty yourself out for this boy. All of you, lay it on my alter, lay it out. Empty you. My heart screams in rebellion, but his arms squeeze tighter and he is relentless.
I am with you, even until the end of the age.
And my mind travels back, back to the places, the alters my soul has erected to remember. I have 3 small children and a husband 8,000 miles away fighting for my freedom. It’s about 8 months into a 14 month long journey and I’m washing dishes while the babies play in the next room. As I look out the window above my sink, my hands enjoying the warm soapy water, my mind crosses over to the forbidden place, the one place military wives don’t allow their minds to wander to.
In my minds eye, I see a car pull up and 2 sharply dressed men walking up to my door. I immediately know and in my imagination, I am on the floor, heaving, my heart wracked in so much pain it hurts my body.
I shake my head, trying to shake off the dirty thought, but it’s too late. Grief, worry, anxiety and all the what if’s rain down over me, covering me in fear. I crumple to the floor, eyes as wet as my hands, all I can do is rock and pray.
Rock and pray.
And he’s there, in this hard, desperate place of pain, putting his arms around me, whispering sweet nothings into the hurting and He rocks me.
One of my most desperate moments, when I actually had no idea if I would ever see my husband again. He didn’t turn me away and say, Suck it up. He cradled me and we rocked.
I remember. But as I sit there, I silently scream in anger at all the times this boy has hurt me or one of my precious girls. I rant and complain and pound the fists of my soul like a baby. But I don’t care because it’s all real and I feel safe enough to be real.
I wipe my tears, wishing I could wipe away the thoughts, the past, the reality of where I’m living right now. But only the tears disappear, replaced by more, and my tissue is soaked with the evidence of a heart surgery being done.
At the women’s night.
The Surgeon’s needle is precise, the stitches are perfect as I am being torn open. All the wounds bared, but safe in his perfect hands. Another memory comes rushing back and I Iet myself go there…
We were living in the perfect place: Cass County, Iowa. Not an exocitc part of the world. Not even an interesting part of the country, but for our family, it was ideal. My husband met Jesus there and we found a church as young believers that we still call home. I had 2 babies in that county, with other women having their babies, and we would sit all afternoon and talk and love and pray and love some more.
And when my world was upside down with fear during the deployment, this church put their gigantic arms around me and squeezed tight and promised they would never let me go. My children’s best friends were there, my whole world was within this small county and I loved every day we were there. Fifteen years of memories we had built up, 15 years of love we had banked in our hearts.
And when God provided for us to move back to Nebraska–where our childhood home was, where family was–we jumped and thought it would be great. But the pregnancy hormones were rushing hard by then and putting 15 years of memories, 15 years of friends on the shelf was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
I cried for months.
I tried to figure out ways we could sell our house and go back, because with a baby growing in my belly, my mind was wasted. I couldn’t think, I could only cry and let the waves wash over me, crashing me to the bottom.
I spent months like this, even after my precious baby was born. I don’t handle post pardum very well anyway, but the hormones raging, a fourth baby girl, a new teenager, homeschooling and the move were too much for my scrambled up brain and I spent the long nights just rocking my baby and crying, rocking and crying. Wishing I could call a good friend and then remembering I had no friends anymore.
And in those moments, the ones where I thought I was going to run away, back to Iowa, back to my idea of perfection, He sat with me in that chair and we rocked. His arms cradling me like I cradled my precious little one and he whispered sweet nothings into the hurting and reminded me that He was all I needed.
I wasn’t abandoned.
I wasn’t shelved.
I was His.
Serve. Bless. Give yourself as a gift. These words, hard ideas, are shouting at me from the screen, from the video we are watching at the women’s night. I think it’s supposed to be about serving the church, serving as a member of the Church, but all I can hear is the loud cutting of my Savior as he implants different ideas into my heart, stitching them up tight so I won’t forget. It hurts so much, but it feels so good as I know the stretching will make me look like Him.
And that’s all I want.
My heart aches as my soul screams back: HOW? What do I do with this boy who has invaded like a screaming elephant, stomping out every shred of hope we had? How do I love a boy who doesn’t want to be loved, cannot even give love? He pushes me away, minute by minute. Hard. I have learned how to not fall down, how to catch myself when he’s pushing, but the blows are still fierce. His aim is perfect, shooting arrows right at the tender places, the mommy places: pierce my girls, pierce my confidence as a momma, pierce my strengths as a homeschool teacher, pierce my newly strong marriage. All the places I thought I could do–all the right places–he flings his hurtful words, his manipulative ideas and wraps me up in question and doubt. Minute by minute. My guard can never be let down, or I will fall to his wily ways.
As I’m silently screaming back, sitting among all the women, His thoughts become mine and this thought prevails through the emotional din:
Rock him as I have rocked you all these years. Whisper sweet nothings into the hurting. Tell him you love him. Throw your arrows of love into the soul of this child. Peirce his tender places with mommy-love. He never had a momma just rock and cuddle and love. He doesn’t know what that feels like and shouldn’t every child know what a momma’s arms feel like?
Remember…and rock and rock and love and love until you have emptied yourself out on this alter and then do it some more. I have emptied myself out for you, broken my body, spilled my blood, and loved and I still rocked you in your most desperate hours. Even though you were an adult, you were still my baby and I sat with you. Do the same for this boy, because he is my baby and I am stretching your heart big enough to be his momma.
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20
“We call those things mercies which please us, ease us, suit our wants, and fall in with our cravings. Truly they are so, but not less gracious are those benefits which cross us, pain us, and lay us low.’ ~Spurgeon
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