We’ve spent the last ten days at home with our kids sharing a nasty virus like a potluck entrée. It’s important to note that when my kids are sick I have exactly zero chill. If negative amounts of chill were a thing, that is where I would live. My kids tell me they feel lousy, I notice their energy seems low, I feel a feverish forehead, I hear that all too familiar croup sound in the middle of the night, and all logic and reason literally flee from my brain. A cold is not a cold. A tummy bug is not a tummy bug. When my kids get sick I immediately go to worst case scenario. It’s not pretty and it’s one of the things I’m the most embarrassed about as a mama. But it’s true. All mamas worry. Add in a life long battle against debilitating anxiety plus a vomiting seven year old, and all hope is lost.
A couple nights ago, Hudson was feverish and croupy and sleeping on the couch next to our bed. He was restless, as any fever plagued kiddo would be. Moaning and breathing loudly as his sinuses were so full of the yuck. He would cry in his sleep because his throat was so sore. And there I sat. Cross legged on my bed. Watching my sleeping son who had a pretty bad virus that turned into croup, as it always has for him. He was sick. Absolutely. But we were not in crisis, this was not an emergency. But in my mind? I was keeping vigil at his bedside. I couldn’t sleep because something terrible would happen. So I sat there. 2 am. 3 am. Tears silently rolling down my cheeks. Shame my only companion. See, I know better. I know that life is not a constant crisis. But when my anxiety is triggered, when life is too heavy, my mind sees calamity as our only option.
I sat there, embarrassed in the dark, alternating between praying my husband wouldn’t wake up and ask me what I was doing and secretly seething at him because how dare he sleep at a time like this? Doesn’t he get it? How can he not get it? I had very literally made myself sick to my stomach with the worry of what ifs and he was snoring the night away. I was angry. And so jealous.
Where is my peace, Jesus? Where is your comfort? Where are YOU?
While I waited for the sun to rise, because daylight somehow helps to lift the heaviness, I thought about this life long battle. The days and months and years spent knowing that God is good but also wondering when the next shoe will drop. The daily tug of war between logic and fear. It’s all I can remember.
As I laid down, eyes heavy, soul weary, face three inches from my son’s so I could hear every breath and movement and fly into action the second he needed me, I remembered.
The loss I have endured in my life is always swift and sudden and world shattering. I don’t have personal experience with incredible healing or beating the odds.
My daddy had a stroke and was gone two days later. The last time I saw him I laid next to him in his hospital bed, trying to memorize his face because how could I do this life without him? I covered his feet because they looked cold and I tried to leave but I flew back to his side and crawled in one more time. He was supposed to help me navigate this world and now he’d left without saying goodbye.
My best friend called me late one night as I climbed into bed. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow, I’m too tired tonight” was all I thought as I silenced the call. The next day a driver fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and one of the brightest lights this world has ever known was taken from us. If only I had answered the phone and heard her voice one more time.
I have watched those closest to me battle chronic illness that seems to never end, I have waged that war myself and now my husband is on the front lines. I have begged God for miraculous healing, I have looked to countless medical professionals, and yet survival mode seems to be the only season we know.
Do not hear me say that I haven’t seen amazing things happen in my life. I have. And I love my life. My thankfulness is overwhelming.
But I have also experienced immense heartbreak and that fear travels with me through my days. Grief tends to do that. Once you feel its touch, you are forever changed. And so is your world.
And as I laid next to my boy I admitted to myself that I will likely never have a whole lot of chill when my kids are sick, but that I owe it to all of us to fight fear with truth. Acknowledge my heart ache but choose to believe that history does not always repeat itself. And to never stop praying for miracles and trusting that my God knows what he’s doing even when everything seems to be flying out of control.
I don’t know your story or your worry. I don’t know your heartbreak or your 3am fears, but I do know this. Your fear does not define who you are or how beautiful your life will be. Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is say, “I’m scared but I’m also brave and I will not let fear write my story.” I said it that night, through waves of nausea. I will say it every day until it is etched deep in my soul and has become the soundtrack of my days. I can’t control life, but I can choose to live full and bold and courageous and vibrant. Even when I’m scared. And so can you.
Don’t let the darkness steal your light. Someone out there needs you to be brave so they can follow your lead. It’s uncomfortable and painful and it won’t happen overnight. But it will be worth it.
In the words of Francesca Battistelli “Fear you don’t own me. There ain’t no room in this story.”
Let’s write the next page believing that what’s coming is filled with beauty. And if you need someone to believe with you at 3am, please reach out. Your girl knows the battle is intense and I’ll stand with you until the sun rises.