Her cries reach me in the middle of the night. The tears that are supposed to move me to compassion and break my heart. The tears she cried in the dark, that for seven years were answered infrequently, are supposed to cause me to sprint to her room, to hold her, reassure her and comfort–meeting that deepest place inside her. Instead, I sit on the couch, holding her sister, frustrated because I can’t put the sleeping one back in her room until she quiets down. Tired, exhausted, worn. Upset that for the third night in a row my sleep is haphazard at best. So I ignore her. I turn off compassion and embrace my frustration. The first thing I tell her when she finally settles down is that I was waiting for her to be quiet, so I could bring her sister back into the room. My heart is hard. Angry. Unresponsive. Unmoved. It is like stone. I expected the months of longing and waiting to irrevocably mark my interactions with her. I expected to be a better me at the end of this process. I expected the internal longings of my heart, coupled with the external process to wreck me, break me and for this whole process to put me back together, somehow, differently.
So on nights like this, I find myself hurt and befuddled. Frustrated by both myself and the situation. I feel angry and cheated. This is not how it’s supposed to be. My heart was supposed to break easily at her tears. I would hold her tightly in my arms and declare my unyielding love for her. But by the end of most days, I’m relieved when I’ve made it through the day and we’re level. Thankful we’re not dipping into the negative, even if we’re far from the positive.
My friend sent me a text, double-checking herself, “Isn’t that evil? What is wrong with me?”
I find myself asking the same question. Why can’t I get it together long enough to be the wife God wants me to be to Doug? Why can’t I love my kids (ALL of them) selflessly, and choose to disregard the lack of sleep and interrupted “me-time,” and just meet their needs? Why can’t I be the friend I want to have? The sister? The daughter?
My heart is sick and dying and broken. And honestly, I can’t figure it out. Once, I thought did…Maybe I still do. Just set aside, sitting on a shelf. Waiting patiently for me until I get desperate enough to turn and ask for help. This truth laces through my body yet again: Wholeness, wellness comes from submission to my Savior. In this place of brokenness, He is the only one with the power to change my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. That’s it. Again and again and again, He walks this road with me. Patiently teaching me that through Him and in Him is abundant love/life. Apart from Him, I have a deep disease–a self-love that only chooses the path of least resistance–and that does not include a hurting little girl from Africa. Trapped in my own wants/needs/desires I will sacrifice her on the alter EVERY SINGLE TIME.
A tender-heart, dies, always, continually. It weeps with those who weeps. It rejoices with those who rejoice. And Jesus alone can transform my heart, so that I put my old self on the alter, let myself die yet again, a little more, with the death Jesus died. To be raised up to new, deeper life–embracing yet again the sorrow and suffering of others. Daily, breathing, in and out the gospel. Letting it mark me. Change me.
Or I can set it on the shelf, and be this hard shell that does not love, does not weep and clings too tightly to mine. Ultimately sacrificing the best things, the beloved things, for temporary pleasure. What is wrong with me?
Lord, please save me from myself. Apart from you, I will choose this body of death. Every. Single. Time. Teach me, in the moment, to choose love.