I sneak into her room to watch her sleep sometimes, when I know she’s really out. I look down at her in her crib, and I’m in awe that she’s our daughter. I feel such love and gratitude when I look at her that I don’t quite know how to contain myself. I take some pictures, and I whisper a thank-you to God. We prayed for so long for a baby, and here she is. But I also whisper a prayer for help in choosing faith over fear when it comes to her life. It’s this soul battle that I’ve been fighting lately, and perhaps some of it is anxiety from that post partum life, and some of it is just a parent’s natural reaction, but I beg God to help me trust him with her life. My human nature wants to hold her tightly to my chest and run so far from ever saying, “She’s yours, God”, for fear of what that could mean. But isn’t placing her in God’s hands the safest, best place for her to be? 100% yes. But sometimes that struggle between my fears, and my faith, and my humanity is a battle. I get so mad at myself when I worry or fear, because look at all that God has done – both in our lives and from the beginning of time. But in my humanity I’m still tempted to take matters into my own hands and fear all the “what ifs” that this world, and my mind tempt me with. The fact that she’s here at all is a miracle, and I don’t want to take away from that by allowing fear one minute of power over me. But sometimes, if I’m honest, it’s easier said than done.
I remember when we were living in Cap Skirring, it was known that you should not drive at night for safety reasons. Both because of the dangers on the road, but also because of the risk of rebel activity. So we just never drove at night. But one time Shawn went with a group of local believers to a men’s meeting in Ziguinchor (about an hour away) and due to a number of reasons, the meetings ran late, and that meant they would be returning at night, driving in the dark – the very thing we knew to avoid. I was at home with our dog Roxy, fear creeping in as the sun began to set, knowing the risks at hand. Shawn called to tell me what I had already assumed, that they would be returning later than expected, and driving back at night. I was sick with fear. I thought about the local Senegalese taxi driver who was shot in the back of the head a few weeks prior, just so rebels could stop the taxi and rob him and anyone in the car. I thought about the accidents that took place on that road, with no good hospitals nearby, and I was scared thinking about what could happen to the man I loved so very much. Our minds sure do love to take it and run with it when there’s even a remote possibility for danger. I was too worried to even pray. I just paced our house, and then went to sit with our neighbor Yassine while I waited. It was awful. Thankfully, they made it home safe and without encountering a single incident. My worry was for nothing. But I didn’t know that at the time. The fear was real. But where was my trust in God?
With each of our six embryo transfers, I worried about what could happen. It was like a cycle of hope, then remembering our track record of loss, then back to the excitement that it could happen this time, back to analyzing everything we had invested in this transfer, and so on. The fear and the emotions were real. And although it may not have felt like it at the time, we were strengthening our ability to choose faith over fear. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t instant, and it most certainly wasn’t a natural or feel-good response.
Shawn watched me fight malaria with fear in his eyes. He saw how my body was giving up, and he saw how delirious I was. Choosing to trust God when your wife is so sick, in a country you’ve only been in for a few months, was terrifying. It was hard to trust God in that moment when fear was present and easy to grasp.
There are so, so many scenarios that come to mind of times when fear and worry and anxiety were all too familiar, and the tears and the shortness of breath were real. Like when I was convinced our plane was going down, or when my throat began to close after my Yellow Fever shot, or when Shawn was locked in a Senegalese jail cell.
Sometimes I feel like fear is validated as I remember heartache we’ve known personally, or as I’ve cried for friends over their loss, or the news of their diagnosis, or the reality of their heartache. That’s what fuels the fire of these “what ifs” that creep into my mind, into my day. I feel like they ‘deserve’ a second glance, because bad things do happen. And from there, the fear grows, and it becomes more legit as I focus on it. That’s the struggle. And it’s real. But if I feel that fear can be “validated”, how much more can trust in God be validated? He’s the author of Salvation, the designer of our blood vessels, the one who controls the atmosphere, the one who works good from bad, a great mighty warrior, the one who fights for us in a realm we can’t see or begin to comprehend. He’s powerful, he’s in control despite our circumstances, our fear, our very own worse-case scenarios. He’s the Great I Am. And that’s what I’ll remember when I watch her sleep, when I hold her and am overwhelmed at what an incredible gift she is to us.
Faithful he has been, faithful he will be. Even with her life. Even with an unknown future.