One of the most overwhelming aspects of this T-13 experience has been the incredible outpouring of love and support expressed in such a wide variety of ways by an astounding number of people! We haven’t needed the Thanksgiving season to remind us to be thankful for all who have shown the love of Christ to us in very practical ways, but it does seem to be the perfect time to express that thanks here.
Galatians 6:2 has come to mind often during the past four months: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” So many of you are truly bearing this burden with us, making it so much lighter, and we are deeply grateful.
The ‘fourth mercy’ of our most recent ultrasound day was not having to cook dinner when I got home. While God has given me the grace to maintain my composure quite well at all the various appointments we’ve had for Joel, I’ve noticed that I tend to be uncharacteristically exhausted afterwards. The kids also want to talk about Joel more than usual on those days, and I often find myself mentally distracted, wishing for time to just be alone to think. A sweet friend didn’t know all of this, but several weeks ago she asked, “When is your next ultrasound?” and followed my answer with “We’ll be bringing your dinner that day.” It was truly a blessing to anticipate not only their kindness but also their visit, and to have an extra hour+ in the evening to process all we had learned.
God has amazingly timed so many other expressions of love and given them to us at just the moments we’ve needed them… a Facebook message or a card in the mail or a text. We’ve received more communications in their various forms than I can respond to in a timely way… plus phone calls, books, gifts, a handmade blanket, hugs, and yes, more food… a jar of soup… a gallon pail of homemade applesauce… a loaf of homemade bread, etc. Another friend gave us a meal, not knowing it would correspond with another ultrasound day. Yet another dear friend even offered to make meals regularly for us between now and delivery; completely astounding… overwhelming… and humbling. I’m tucking some of these away in the freezer to be prepared for the ‘whenever’ of Joel’s delivery, and it is a comforting thing to know that preparations for that event are underway quite a bit earlier than normal (for me), due to someone else’s generosity.
It has not been easy to be on the receiving end of so many kind and thoughtful gestures. I tend to be of the opinion that it’s our responsibility to raise our kids, and that our decision to welcome as many of them as He chooses to bless us with does not entitle us to extra help from others. We don’t feel that anyone owes us any unique support to enable us to maintain this crazy lifestyle we’ve chosen! With this attitude, it’s been hard to let go of my determination toward independence and accept help during this unique pregnancy. I always expect a pregnancy and a new baby to increase my workload, and at times I think, “I can get through this one just fine too!” Sometimes I want to scream, “Enough already!” in part because of my stubborn self-sufficiency, but also, to be brutally honest, because every sweet word or gift reminds me that Joel is not ok… that all of this help is being offered because my baby is expected to die.
This is probably more of the reason my heart resists being on the vulnerable, receiving end of things than I would ever want to admit. But, being ‘loved’ in such tangible ways has helped me to realize and admit that yes, this pregnancy is different. Yes, Joel is probably not going to be with us much longer, and even though I am not physically sick or on bed rest, this thought alone has been emotionally taxing. There have also been many more appointments than usual, and the mental energy need to process all that we’re learning individually and with the children does take a toll.
When kindnesses are shown, we know we need to see them as expressions of God’s love and care for us during this season, given through His people, and just be ok with being “the helped” rather than “the helpers.” And, we are encouraged when we remember: this is just a season! We look forward to entering a new season in the near future and being able to be on the ‘giving end’ once again!