Wednesday, December 1, 2010

i bow my will... or at least i'm trying to

I've written some about the book my Ladies' Bible/Book Study Group is doing called Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow. This book is amazing, and as I've said before, even though I'm usually not a fan of non-fiction, it has made me dig in the Bible and crave the Word more than I have in a very long time. 

The book discusses the meaning of true worship, its purpose, and how to take every aspect of your life - pain, times of waiting, attitude, work, words etc and turn them into worship. 

Monday night's chapter was "I Bow My Will." And I can't stop thinking about it. The first part of the chapter described how Jesus asked to be relieved of his cup (dying on the cross) three times. It was AGONY to bend his will to match God's. It's so hard for us too. The second part of the chapter retold the Abraham/Isaac story where Abraham follows God's command, bows his will and almost sacrifices his son for God.  "Abraham trusted God enough to bow. Even though Abraham did not understand what God was doing, he bowed his intellect. Even though Abraham loved Isaac with a deep father love, he bowed his affections. Even though Abraham wanted to scream, "No, God!" he bowed his will." Wow. I don't know what it was about this time, maybe just that I'm a mother, but that is a crazy emotional story for me now. The agony that both Abraham and Isaac experienced but turned to worship... Blows. My. Mind.

Anyway, the point of the chapter was this: What is your Isaac? What is the thing that you are holding on to? What is the thing or person you love the most that you would withhold from God? What do you hesitate to trust him with?

The answer for me? Jonah's Life. Hands down. When Gabe died, Matt's parents took care of the arrangements. We could either bury him in some kind of Baby Land area of the cemetery or we could buy two or four plots together. I wanted us to be together and so they purchased the four plots for us. We did not need the fourth, but three was not an option. THAT FOURTH GRAVE HAUNTS ME. I am so completely terrified of the possibility that I will outlive my second son. I told someone last week that if Jonah dies,  I feel like friends would have to stay by my side 24-7 on suicide watch. I feel like I would crumble to the ground. I don't know that I would survive it. My love for and dependence on him scares me. I can't describe its intensity. Maybe those of you who have lost a child or have a child with a possibly fatal condition can understand. (Or maybe it's the same for all moms? I really don't know.) I do know that I can't describe it to you, but trust me, it's probably not healthy. I don't want or need to love Jonah less. But I do need to trust God more, that no matter what happens, He has known it all along and can handle it. I could live (and be joyful) even if something did happen to Jonah. (Try telling my heart that.)

I'm going somewhere with this... I think. Stick with me.

Meredith, my sweet friend who hosts our group, created a little Isaac Altar at the front of her living room in front of the fire place. At the end of study, during our personal quiet/worship time, she encouraged us to write what our "Isaac" was on a piece of paper and to lay it down on the altar if/when we were ready. I went into the dining room away from the crowd. I knew this was going to be hard. Meredith played some quiet worship music and I read Psalm 84. Two verses spoke to me as I thought about sweet Jonah (and Gabe too.)

Psalm 84:4 - Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 
Psalm 84:10 - Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Gabe dying is a victory.
Jonah dying would be a victory.

I'm not beating myself up for letting the thought of him dying take my breath away and make me feel like life wouldn't be worth living. That cup would be agony. I would ask that it be taken away. That would be expected, understood, and natural.

But what I have to learn is that I can't control the uncontrollable. Jonah is in God's hands, no matter what. 

So finally, I wrote down "Jonah's Life" in big letters on my piece of paper and bordered it in smaller letters with those two verses. I then walked back to the living room and knelt in front of the altar. We weren't really burning the pieces at that moment (we took them outside later) but the fire was burning behind the altar all symbolic-like. Meredith was right by the altar. I know she knew what I had written on that paper. (We have talked much about this very thing.) I was crying. She was crying. And at that moment, the gas logs died down and the fire almost completely went out. I looked at Meredith, smiled, and whispered, "I think that's a sign I don't have to burn mine." We both laughed through the tears. She put her forehead against mine and said, "I don't think it is," and don't you know, she cranked that fire right back up. 

She was crying

I was crying.

She was on her face praying.

I was on my knees resisting.

God was very present.

And finally, I let go of my slip of paper and handed my son's life back over to my Abba. To the One who loves Jonah even more than I do. To the One who understands what giving up a son's life is all about. To the One who really gets it. I let him have back what is His in the first place. 

And I'm trusting that, if I do outlive my second son, God's inexplicable peace and strength will pick me up and get me through it. I can't imagine, y'all. Losing Gabe was so hard. Losing Jonah would be a million times harder. I can't bear the thought. But my God is bigger than my fears. He's bigger than the uncertainty. He has written out Jonah's days and holds them all in His hands. 

So it's okay to let go. He's got this.


Brenda is SO Blessed said...

what a powerful testimony Patrice. thank you

MWalker said...

This post sent spiritual shivers up and down my arms and legs. God bless you!

Sarah Joy said...

Tears streaming down my cheeks ... what a wonderful post. So many things running through my mind, but none I can eloquently put into words right now.

Praying for you ...

Country Roads said...

Amazing, powerful ... thank you for sharing. I'll be reading this often as I go through some difficult moments. Thanks and may God Bless!!

Sarah P. said...

Tears... really an amazing and beautiful post. Inspiring and leaves me thirsty for more.

Marlo said...

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.
Your plans for us are too numerous to list.
You have no equal.
If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,
I would never come to the end of them.

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings...
you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come...
I take joy in doing your will, my God,
for your instructions are written on my heart.”

I have told all your people about your justice.
I have not been afraid to speak out,
as you, O Lord, well know.
I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;
I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.
I have told everyone in the great assembly
of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me.
Let your unfailing love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles surround me—
too many to count!

Kylee said...

I really needed this post today. Thanks.

Courtney Roth said...

I GET this. Think its a coincidence that we were both studying the same chapter in the Bible on he same week?? I think not. God is doing BIG things for us. I LOVE you. Enjoyed our talk so much yesterday. You are amazing.

About Southern Belle said...

This post was so beautifully written, I have tears in my eyes, thanks for sharing.

boltefamily said...

a-maz-ing. i had this very struggle this week. after losing two of my kids, I had a dream of losing another and was GRIPPED in fear for days. I finally had to just give it to Him.

One of my VERY favorite books is "When I Lay My Isaac Down" by Carol Kent. I bought it after losing my Isaac and it has been a powerful tool in my walk. I HIGHLY recommend it.

I know this sounds crazy, but I am proud of you. You are doing this. It isn't easy but He is refining you and it is a BEAUTIFUL sight to see Him so present. Love and prayers always!

Molly said...

You are an amazing woman, your faith is something I strive for. I am sobbing, praise God for you and praise God that you are Jonah's mom, he knew what he was doing.

A great post, thank you for having the courage to share your honesty.

Stacy said...

Wow is all I can say. You are an amazing woman and mother and such an inspiration to me and so many others.

God Bless you and your sweet family always.

amym0102 said...

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this. I get this. I have lost 2 sons to a genetic disease and am currently pregnant with another son and I don't yet know if he will live. It is incredibly incredibly hard to let go of the fear and give our hearts to God alone. But it must be done, because, really, do we have any other choice? There is nowhere else to go but to God alone. But I have been, and am there, right now with you, and I know that it is a hard hard road to walk. May God's peace be with you and your family.


Unknown said...

Tears. I can relate. Our Jake has sworn his service to the US Marine Corps in a time of war. He is my life. Hard to let go, but he is in God's hands. I pray every day.
Love you all so much. Au-Me

beanst27 said...

Very powerful post... Always praying for you guys!

Tina (NJ)

Shari said...

I needed this post today! The tears are flowing. Thank you.

Dinah said...

You are an amazing mama and person. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of losing a child. My sister-in-law, though, is currently going thru this agony due to her 20 yr old son committing suicide in August. It has been heartbreaking for our whole family. I pray for her everyday and I also pray for you and your precious Jonah. Know that you have people praying for you and your family that you don't even know and we will help you any way that we can.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Tears are running down my cheeks. I pray it's a sacrifice you and Matt (and all of us, really) never have to make. Knowing that you've already given it over to God makes me feel very small ... because I haven't. I so selfishly want Jonah to live a long, productive, happy life, to continue to enrich ours and those of our kids. I'll work on myself. But I'm not making any promises. ;) Thanks for reminding me what's real and true tonight.

Maria B. said...

It's just nice to know that I am not alone feeling the same way about my son. Thank you for your honest post.

Amber said...

Profound. Such beautiful words of deep truth. I have wrestled a lot with this the past couple years as my daughter fights cancer. She is doing good right now, but the pain, suffering, and loss in this new world we live in is overwhelming.

The clinic at our hospital (Brenners) loses an average of 20 cancer kids every year of the 100 in treatment, not to mention our friends at other hospitals. When I watch these kids fight for their very lives and endure hell and back. It is all-consuming. And when our precious warriors earn their wings it leaves us all gasping for air. I have attended more children's funerals than I ever imagined and I know there are more ahead.

I have trusted God from the beginning and He has faithfully carried us from the first moment of diagnosis. But at times I am overcome with grief and frustration from it all. I have recently come to the conclusion that I will never understand these things this side of heaven and I don't have to like them. God can handle my feelings and emotions in this life. But I know with every ounce of my being that HE has a bigger plan and HE reigns victorious on the throne. And in that is my only peace.

chinamoon1420 said...

Thank you for your honesty. You have inspired many tonight. Trust me you are not the only one who feels this way. I often wonder too do other moms who don't have "special" children get it? I mean do they really get it. Do they have any idea what a miraculous gift their children are? But, I also pray that they never know the pain of losing one or what it feels like to even think you are going to lose one. Right now I am trying to "lay down my Isaac". I know in my brain that worrying is not going to help anything and that I have no control. I just have to keep reminding my heart and asking for forgiveness then handing my Isaac right back. Thank you so much for your bare, honesty. I will be praying for you. I think I needed this post tonight.
Hugs to you Patrice

Miss K said...

Thank you so much for bearing your heart and sharing this with us. What a powerful post. You are an inspiration and I thank the Lord He's using you to speak to me and so many others. God bless you!

Pete, Ali, Charlie and Rosie said...

Right there with you, Patrice. My first son, Will, died 15 minutes after he was born, and my second son, Charlie, has a major and incurable cardiac condition.
The terror of losing him too hits often and hard, in great waves. It is hard to imagine what our life would be like without him - pointless and almost beyond endurance.
He is seven now, and is well and wonderful, but the fear is never far away, although I try to acknowledge the fear and then file it away in the recesses of my mind so it doesn't control me. It's so important not to worry so much about the 'what ifs' that you miss out on 'what is'.
I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone in feeling like this - I, and so many others, are walking this road alongside you.
I've been reading your blog for several years now, but I don't think I've ever commented before! Hang in there - you aren't on your own. xxx

Unknown said...

I read this post with tears streaming. I can only imagine your own tears as you wrote it. As you experienced it.

I don't think I can out into words what I want to articulte, so I won't. I have you in my prayers.

The Bad Witch said...

What a powerful, amazing post that brought tears to my eyes. You're awesome Patrice.

Angela said...

This is the most powerful post, and it is something I needed to read. Thanks, Patrice. I am broken this morning thinking of what I hold on to that God wants.

Lucy and Ethel said...

I have so much to say to you some day :)

I know you don't like to hear what an amazing job you're doing with Jonah, but you are... and it's because you KNOW God is in control and loves Jonah even more than you do (hard to fathom, I know).

And He loves YOU enough to bless you with Jonah and some hefty special needs.

Not only are you facing the EB assignment with as much grace as humanly possible (occasional meltdowns are both acceptable and necessary!), but you are teaching countless others to do the same with their own 'assignments,' whether you intend to do so or not.

I have no doubt that angel intervention led me to you and Jonah in the very beginning.

I am blessed, as are all others here in the 'Jonah' family.

Sending big hugs and much love from Mountainbillyland -

'Lucy' said...

Thank you for your words. I am a 47 year old mother of two girls (12 and 9), who 6 weeks ago was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. I've never smoked a day in my life. These last weeks have been an amazing journey with God showing up in a very big way. Friday I will have a CT scan to determine if the chemo I have been receiving is working. It's been an struggle this week to lay my anxiety at the Father's feet. But I know He holds us close and has a plan for me and my husband and girls. He is faithful. So thank you for your words. They served to remind me that everything must be laid at His feet. For He is good.

kim_brough said...

Girl. Yeah, I think that's all I can say. Like, GIRL. You ROCK!

The Creasy's said...

I read your blog, but I've never commented before. What an amazing testimony, literally took my breath away! Praying for you and your family!

Tabatha said...

Thank you for once again reminding us (esp. me) of the love of God. You are so strong and inspire me to walk a little closer to Him everyday.

Julie Glover said...

Absolutely amazing!

Thomas and Jamie said...

Patrice - I'm really having to struggle to hold it together this morning at work. Although I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy, I can somewhat relate to your fears. I think all moms can - It's an instinctive, incredibly powerful feeling. It grips me at the most inopportune times (i.e., driving down the highway, when I'm away from him, etc.) - but it's at those VERY times that I have to literally (most times) pray out loud so I can hear myself to the Lord that Malachi is ALL His - NOT mine. That I'm only here for a moment to take care of this precious soul!! Powerful, powerful post!

Trace Car Driver said...

amen, amen, and amen.
i checked out this book from the library a few weeks ago, after hearing you talk about it. it def is worth reading, i am bowing my attitude right now! :)
you are so right... GOD HAS THIS! jonah, his life, your life... HE is in control. isn't that awesome?
thanks for being so real with us!

southern love and prayers from alabama!

Lisa said...

Thank you so much. I needed this.

APA and NBK's Mom said...

Thank you.

Gilda said...

My eyes are filled with tears because as a mom also that is my Issac. My heart fills up with so much sadness for all the moms' that have lost a child, and all the EB moms' that are living with the thought of one day losing their child. I know that everyday comes with new things and god has our lives all planned out for each and everyone of our children as well as ours. Thank you Patrice for sharing such an great testimony and reminding us that it's ok to let go.

LisaL said...

I cried as I read your beautiful words. What a moving experience! Thanks for sharing with all of us.
Love and Prayers!

Kim M said...

One thing I know, is that God's grace is sufficient, just as His Word promises. I do not know your pain of never being able to watch Gabe grow up or dealing with EB and watching Jonah in pain. But I've thought about this very thing allot! I'm glad we don't know the future but am so thankful to my Heavenly Father that He does and He can and does handle it for me.

Thanks for the reminder - I love your little guy and feel I know you through your writing.

Thanks for being a sister-in-the-Lord who isn't afraid to speak truth and talk about the tough stuff.

Rachelle said...

Wow, Patrice. I've never lost a child, but I can tell you honestly that I have thought the very thoughts you wrote of about my own children and at times it has overcome my thinking. Thank you for your honesty. What you have shared today has shown me the direction I need to go with these feelings. Our God is good.

blessings to you.

Ariel T said...

And now I'm crying...what a beautiful testimony. Thanks for sharing!

Audrey said...

You are amazing. And brave.

I have two, beautiful, healthy babies. I can tell you that the fear your describe in losing Jonah, plauges me too. I don't think I could make it (except only maybe for the other one). So, I think you're just like any other normal Mama out there. Only your baby has a condition that could be fatal to him so it must just be exasberated by 10 million.
And honestly. I couldn't do what you did last night. Not even with faith that there is a God, nor with healthy babies.

jmh said...

I don't think you're fear of losing Jonah is any different than any other parent. We ALL live in fear of our children going before us. I know I do. My son has seizures and the fear is dibilitating at times. I know "giving it God", for me, is usually a process -not a one time thing I do. I usually have to "give it to Him" over and over when it comes to my kids --because every scary, iffy moment that comes along, I have to "give it to Him" again.

I have always had difficulty with the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible. In large part, because I just can't believe that God asked Abraham to do that. I feel like it was such a huge thing to ask. I have gotten way deeper into the story and the original texts of the story and now, certain things stand out to me and I'm able to see the story more clearly. Something interesting to think about -notice that when Abraham tells his servant where he is going he says "We are going up here to worship. We will worship and then WE will be back". WE. I sometimes wonder if Abraham had an idea or if he was just trying to avoid telling the servant because, honestly, he'd probably be told he was crazy for taking Isaac as the sacrifice. It sort of bothers me that God tells Abraham to "take his son, his ONLY son..." because Isaac was NOT Abraham's only son. I understand Isaac was the child God made his covenant with Abraham with but it still bothers me that Ishmael, who IS Abraham's son, is disregarded in the sentence that says "take your ONLY son". It hurts me to think that Isaac was to be more loved than Ishmael. Especially considering Abraham "took Hagar as his wife" which was not uncommon in those days. So, having Ishmael with a 2nd wife, makes him ever bit as much Abraham's son, doesn't it?!

Anyway, I didn't mean to get off on this whole thing really. Just wanted to say that I worry about my children just like you do and I have to "give them to God" over and over again sometimes. We all want to be able to control something. But, really, control is nothing but an illusion -because we NEVER really have it for any situation.

Sarah Sharp said...

Oh Patrice. I hardly have words. Powerful post.

Bella's Blessings said...

Oh man, Patrice, what a courageous night that was for you! Thank you for pushing through all that fear and terror. What a powerful experience. It takes us courage to have faith. The gift of faith is not free; we earn it through fighting off our selfish desires and handing over the reins to God, and not just our reins, the reins to everyone we hold dear to us! Because in the end, only God's will will be done. As I watched Bella's heart monitor say ZERO, her death was upon us. No matter the mountains of prayers, no matter the months of vigil, no matter the best doctors in BMT in the country, her death came exactly when it did. Right up until that morning, I never so much as got a HINT she would die. It was only that morning that I walked in and realized she was dying, I had to let God work. There was nothing more I could do to save her. It was his turn, and he blessed us and her with the perfect death. Mommy and daddy holding her, daddy singing to the very song she was born to. I believe that was God's gift to us for taking her. We cannot control when, but if we have the chance to create a peaceful transition into heaven, what a gift. Sorry for the long post. I miss you guys. A lot. P.S. Please check out The Doctor there is built an amazing catalogue of GREAT grief tools for almost any situation out there. I recommend checking it out and maybe sharing it with your followers as it seems like there are many fellow parents who have lost a child (or more). Many blessings.

BlueStormBeezus09 said...

reading this through tears. you are all in our prayers every day. thank you for always sharing from your heart. it touches more people than you know.

Laura A said...

KLEENEX ALERT, I tell you! :)

Seriously, this is an amazing post. I know for me, being the Type A-ist that I am, it's SO hard to bow my will. And I struggle with that every day. (Please don't think I'm trying to compare myself to you or trivialize what you wrote - that's not my intention!)

I appreciate SO much that you share your faith and your struggles with us, and that you are honest with all of it. Meaning that you don't put on your happy face all the time - you hurt, but you give glory to the Lord in all of it, and you are leaning on Him for everything.

I'm rambling. :)

I do think as moms we all worry on some level about out-living our children. But you obviously have that magnified and in your face every day. I'll pray that God will give you peace as you give Jonah over to Him.

And of course, I'm praying for that sweet boy. Our families have never met, but we love you! Hugs to Jonah and to you too!

Love from TX,

Devon said...

so basically you have me in a sob fest of tears as i sit here on my couch....

i think that crazy intensity comes from being a mom who has buried her child. i've lost two little boys and i hold my living little girls hands so tightly and yet i know...HE holds their life. its so scary especially when you already know what the death of your child feels like.

i'm praying for you as i know it must be a million times harder when you have a baby like jonah with special needs.

thank you for sharing this...

Gene and Annie said...

A very beautifully written post! I needed to hear it tonight!! Thank you!

Linda said...

Dear Patrice: You are amazing. I am sitting here reading your blog and crying. You have touched my heart with this update.
You, Matt and Jonah are blessed and you will have the strength to handle whatever is in your future. Live for today and count your many, many blessings.
Love you guys. Keep the Faith. Love and Hugs. Leah's Nana

Annalien said...

Wow! This is such an incredibly powerful testimony and what a blessing that you share it with us. Thank you so much. Your faith is incredible. I pray that I may also have the courage to place my "Isaac" on the altar. Your post has REALLY spoken to me today! May God continue to bless you and your family.

Ronna said...

Thank you for your openness and honesty. I have lurked on your blog for a long time. But I can't lurk today. I have many fears that fight to control me and I fight to surrender them. God bless you, Patrice. He certainly spoke thru you to me.

Tanya said...

Wow... I have come upon your blog before, and wandered back today. I was Bella and Daylon's nurse here in California, which is how I found you. Thank you so much for your words. My life is good, I am happy, but I am missing my faith, and that strength of the Lord in my life. Thank you.


Amanda said...

I have been reading your blog for a few months now but I have never commented. After reading this post I was in tears. It is beautiful post and such a great testament to how amazing our God really is.

Can't wait to read more about Jonah's adventures!

Angela said...

I just saw this post. (I'm a bit behind.) Now I'm sitting at work (where I nanny for a 6 month old boy and a 10 month old boy), crying my eyes out. I'm not a mom yet, but the thought of losing my child makes me want to vomit. I can't imagine what you've gone through and will continue to go through, but I praise God for your consistent desire to seek His will. I don't think it's one of those things that you can say, "Ok. I did it. I sought God's will, and now I'm done." Rather I think it's a continuance with seeking. Just like repentance, surrendering yourself is a constant, every moment struggle that is easier at some times than others. I pray that you continue to let God fight for you and to break down your fears. :-)