Saturday, December 19, 2015

On Waiting For Norah and Advent

Recently I have been feeling a deep sense of longing to meet Norah. I want to look in her eyes. I want her to be here, healthy and whole, and be okay. I just want to hold her and stare at her. I want to know what color her hair is. Will she have Mark’s dark skin, or my fair skin? Will she have very little hair like her momma had or will she have dark hair like her daddy has? Will her nose really look like mine as it does in her sonogram? Of course, I want her to continue growing in utero as she should, but I so desperately want to know she’s going to be okay and that I will get to meet her outside of the womb. I’m sure most mothers can’t wait to meet their babies, so maybe my longing is normal. But I also wonder if my longing isn’t accentuated because I have yet to meet any of our babies outside of the womb, and we have waited so long. I know that along with her birth will come a completely different set of worries, risks, and challenges, but oh, how I want to know her. 

I see her now on ultrasound screens, trusting and hoping she’s okay with each beat of her heart and with every movement, and seeing just a glimpse of her - her little face, her tiny hands and feet, her little neck and shoulders. I love her so much already, and I want to see her without an ultrasound wand between us.

I want these next fifteen weeks or so to fly by. While I’m generally not a person to want to rush life away, I just want to get on the other side of this fifteen week hurdle. I guess the race really started in the fall of 2012, and so now we are hopefully approaching the last leg of the last lap, the last few steps and jumps before crossing the finish line. It’s so close, and I so desperately want the race to end well. 

Looking back over the race, I remember a couple of years ago, where a series of circumstances lead me to a very dark valley. It was a season of sadness and darkness, and I’m scared to think what would happen if I end up in that very place again. In some of my worst moments, self-preservation allows my heart and mind to fill with dread of the “what-ifs”. We have come so far from there. While I trust there will be grace for those days, I don’t want to experience it. I even have a reminder on my phone that says, “But if not, He is still good.” 

The last couple of years I have read some beautiful writings on Advent and longing. I was going back over these posts this week to send to someone, and happened across a comment made by a pregnant woman talking about Advent. I had a bit of a light-bulb moment, relating my longing for Norah to the longing of the Advent season.

Sarah Bessey said on her blog, Would we be so filled with joy at his arrival if we weren’t so filled with longing already? If Christmas is for the joy, then Advent is for the longing. As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days.

I can’t help but think that my perspective, my sense of wonder, my coming joy, my longing, are all so very different, so much deeper, because of our journey. Sarah also said, Now that I have wept, now that I have grieved, now that I have lost, now that I have learned to hold space with and for the ones who are hurting, now I have a place for Advent. Now that I have fallen in step with the man from Nazareth, I want to walk where he walked into the brokenness of this life, and see the Kingdom of God at hand. Now that I have learned how much I need him, I have learned to watch for him. Advent is perhaps for the ones who know longing.

I know that my longing to meet my daughter is a speck of dust in comparison to the longing the world has for a Savior - the collective longing of all the hurts in the world to be healed, needs to be met, and beauty to be made from ashes. 

So this Christmas, as I long to meet Norah Grace, may my longing for my Savior be so much deeper. May my longing for my daughter remind me of the need I have for salvation and the need the world has for redemption.

May my longing not be merely a selfish desire for my own happiness, but may it serve as a catalyst in my heart to draw closer to another tiny baby - a baby wrapped not in a hospital blanket but in rugged swaddling cloths, a baby not laid in a fancy nursery crib, but in humble manger straw. May I find my peace this Christmas not in a perfect pregnancy outcome, but in a perfect, tiny, baby boy named Jesus. 

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight. 

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

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