Don’t forget to breathe

I’ve suffered a terrible case of writer’s block since I last wrote. A number of times, I started an entry, then deleted what I started. I’m promising myself I will publish what I write today, in the interest of chipping away at this writer’s block. It may or may not be worth reading. I apologize in advance!

I am listening to a song called “Breathe” by Alexi Murdoch as I write. Steven and I have been listening to over and over this week. He sings, “And all the suffering that you’ve witnessed, and the hand prints on the wall. They remind you how it’s endless. How endlessly you fall. And the answer that you’re seeking for the question that you found drives you further to confusion as you lose your sense of ground.” Oh, the questions. Oh, the answers we seek.

Some of the initial questions with losing Sam were, Why me and not her? Or her? Or her? Or her? Why was this pregnancy given the odds it was? Why didn’t I land on the better side of the odds? And why am I surrounded by the majority who landed on the other side? Did I do something wrong?

I was over at a family’s house the other day, and I heard an interaction that struck my heart in such a good way. It put color to God’s slow and steady answer to all of these questions. It was a conversation between a mother and her child–a mandate to stay inside. The child wondered why they couldn’t go outside, as their sibling was outside. There was a perfect explanation for why one child was allowed outside and the other was not, and it made complete sense to me, but that explanation did not come for the child who was asking. Rather, mother answered, “You are not the same person as [sibling]. Stay inside.”

What wise parenting. Parents make such effort to ensure every child has the same number of cookies. When adulthood arrives, cookies are unevenly distributed, and the reality of a broken and unfair world is so jarring, many adults never learn to be content because they’re waiting for life to even out the score. Life will not get fair. All will not be balanced until God makes it balanced again in heaven. Living contently has to happen in the meantime.

I am not the same person as everyone else. Sure there’s a reason everything happens the way it happens, but I don’t know all the reasons right now. And God is not offering reasons. I don’t know why we walked through such pain to carry Sam, then lost him. I don’t know why painful things happen. But I also don’t know why God was so gracious to give us Sam, and not give him to someone else. I read a statistic the other day about Triploidy. Over 99% of babies diagnosed with Triploidy are aborted if they make it to the anatomy screening at the halfway point of the pregnancy. What if Sam had been given to someone else? For some reason, God saw fit to give Sam the length of life He did. For some reason, He picked Steven and I to oversee that length of time as Sam’s parents. And we don’t get to know why right now.

How do I find peace in the wake of disappointment? Alexi Murdoch sings, “Keep your head above water, but don’t forget to breathe.” It’s a profound echo of the Scriptural truth that God is God, and I am not. That God is the One who first gave breath to Adam. That God is the One who oversees the moments of every life. That He is the One who orchestrates those moments’ ending. So breathe. In and out. In and out. Don’t just keep your head above water, waiting for the waters to still and repay all the loss. Don’t just survive. Don’t just fight to stay alive. Breathe. Acknowledge that He is God, that I am not, and breathe.

It’s a way of life that cannot be put into a how-to book. It requires listening and stillness and rest. It requires smallness and humility. It’s a path that’s taken me so painfully far away where it seems everyone else is going–toward comfort and prosperity. Instead, I am led toward wholeness. I see Jesus bringing others into His wholeness through different circumstances, but asking “why” is futile. This is your life, Megan, He answers as He did in John 21. How is anybody else your concern? Follow Me.

So I accept that it was God’s will that Sam be given to me, that he was to die when he did. I accept that this is the path I am to walk. I don’t know why it’s been so painful, but I also don’t know why I was given such lovely friends. I don’t know why I am blessed to have the time and resources to be an artist and a writer. I don’t know why I have such a godly husband. I don’t know why the bad things have happened, but I also don’t know why the good things have happened. I don’t know why Sam died, but I don’t know why I was blessed to have him in the first place. Because God is God. Because I am not. Deep breath.

I was given this C.S. Lewis quote just this morning, “In eternity, it is where our questions and answers become one.” A life lived in eternity is not won of a hurried effort to move through tragedy, but rather of a patience in grief, a contentment with the process of wholeness, a relinquishment of the responsibility of wholeness, and an acceptance of a scar that will ache until Christ’s return. I long for eternity, and I am finding that it exists for me even today, as I see that which would have been tragedy turn into blooms of life. I see whispers of heaven today, and I don’t know how, and I don’t know why. This is breathing.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t forget to breathe

  1. Dear Megan, We love you guys so much and admire your words, they really are
    encouraging to me. We all need to keep on breathing through lifes ups downs. you are in my prayers and thoughts always. Love Grandma Bonham

  2. Thank you for chipping away…this brings to my heart rest I didn’t expect today. I love the following insight that Timothy Keller has about eternity…

    “Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he thought) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” The answer of Christianity to that question is—yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”

    Timothy Keller, “The Reason for God”

    While I SO long for “everything sad” to become “untrue”, your insights really remind me to breath and let God be God right NOW…not just in my longings for what is to come….sigh…big breath.

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