You hear it said often, “Life is a dance.” If you’re from the South and love country music as much as I do, you could probably recite from memory the lyrics of John Michael Montgomery’s song titled just that. We are all waltzing through life, and this week I am more keenly aware of the dance happening in my heart. It is a beautiful dance, really. For it is the outworking of the paradox between fear and trust. It is a dance between anger and acceptance.
And it is a sacred dance that let’s me see my heart for what it is- broken; and let’s me experience God for who He is- Love.
Lately I’ve been two-stepping around the dance floor of my mind. Sometimes I allow my anger about Hope’s disabilities to lead while my reluctant acceptance follows, but other times I willingly oblige to God’s path for her, and acceptance takes the lead. In one step I struggle to make sense of how God could permit an innocent child to be ruled by an uncooperative, disabled body. The next, be fully assured that He knows what He is doing.
Do you ever feel this way about your life’s circumstances? Perhaps you are a single woman, longing in the deepest places of your heart for your knight in shining armor to sweep you off your feet. You have read Jeremiah 29:11 a thousand times over and know you should believe that God has a plan for your future, and yet you can’t seem to find contentment in your singleness.
I’m there. I get it. Somewhere in my heart I have this elusive desire to follow God’s perfect will for my life, but when it gets messy, or it doesn’t look like all I had hoped and dreamed it would, I rethink just how much good He actually has for me. And really, just how much good He has for my daughter. At playtime, it takes strong determination and recurring effort for Hope just to grab a cookie cutter from the inside of an open Ziploc bag. She isn’t sitting or crawling or walking yet, which impedes her ability to find the toys she wants so she can play on her own. Her communication skills are behind, so she has learned to gag herself in order to get my attention. Need I go on? This beloved child of mine works with all her strength to be able to physically function at her age level and cognitive ability. It is painful to watch. And I struggle to not be angry.
But when I sit with the LORD, and pour my heart out to Him, He so graciously shows me His love for my daughter. After all, she is His daughter too. He reminds me to look not at what she can’t do, but at who she is. Hope’s spirit is more beautiful than any I have ever known. Her will, courage, and perseverance are a match for no one. She radiates light and life to everyone she meets. And her soul is a wellspring of joy.
These attributes, I know, were birthed out of pain and hardship. Who am I to question God, then? Is not the spirit more valuable than the body? This dance of anger and acceptance is actively moving in my heart, but it isn’t the only one. There’s yet another.
Nestled against my chest lies my little blessing, sleeping the afternoon away as her body fights a wicked infection. Hope suffers from chronic lung disease, making her prone to quickly going into respiratory distress. I wish I could say that is the only ailment plaguing her tiny frame, but I would be fooling myself. By the time Hope turned one year old, she had spent over half her life in the hospital, leading us to consider it our second home. We had our favorite nurses, knew just what to order off the room service menu, and probably could have navigated the halls with our eyes closed. Not only was the hospital familiar territory, the emotional state we were in during that season was too. We were broken, and we knew it.
But where our weakness was growing, God’s grace was abounding all the more.
I still marvel at how He took our once-petrified hearts and filled them so full with His assurance that we no longer live in fear. Fear that something will happen to Hope. Fear that we can’t handle the road before us. Fear that we will stop believing in His goodness to win out in her life. As I’ve said before, we don’t live in fear, but we do live in the reality that our precious child’s days are numbered. The number of those days may be ten, but it also may be 10,000.
We are in a dance between fear and trust, though. And while fear is not the resounding theme of our lives, it is certainly present- both in the difficult seasons and in the least-expected places. I love to cradle Hope as she drifts back to sleep after having woken from a nightmare. In those moments, I find myself fretting that our sweet times together are limited and God will take her home too soon. The struggle is palpable. It is real. It is hard. So, so hard.
But it is passing.
Because trust wins. Because I know the One who is holding us secure. Because His word says that I am hidden in the shadow of His wings
and that He is my portion
and that He is mighty to save, takes great delight in me, quiets me with His love, and rejoices over me with singing.
And I know, at least for now, that I can take Him at His word. Blessed assurance.