Friday, September 30, 2011
“Can a woman forget the child at her breast,
and have not compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
but I will not forget you.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me."
In the past, I have read Isaiah 49:15 as a verse whose purpose is to remind us that as much as we love someone, we can never find a comparison or put words to the depths of His love for us. He asks if a woman can forget the child who she has carried for nine months, delivered, and is now giving life to in the most intimate way I can imagine a connection between mother and child. The answer has seemed an obvious "of course not"... I have even thought before "gosh, way to take it to the extreme, God." Yes, I am well-acquainted with the "orphan crisis" (not sure i like calling "it"/THEM this), but recently He has introduced me to a little life that has revealed a deeper understanding of His great love.
When I first got to hold baby Linet in my arms, she tugged on my shirt--a way of asking whether or not I had any milk to give her. :) In Kenya, it's typical for a baby to breast feed for at least two years. It makes sense--our bodies were made for such. Throw in poverty and it seems crazy to not use this God-given gift to feed children until they can find nourishment in other foods. We all laughed (even her!) about her sweet request that I, unfortunately, could not provide and went on with the day.
The gravity of these verses did not strike me until several nights later, as she lay with an arm sprawled across me and legs furiously "running" as she slept. WHY was I the one laying next to this precious girl--me, someone who could not even promise be in the same position a week later? Who am I to be in this moment-this one I never want to leave? Why is Linet passed from child to child to caregiver to caregiver with (thankfully) so many to love her, but no one to call her their own? The "even those may forget" came to my mind and for the first time, it became real. Linet's mom (to the knowledge of those who have met her) is not dying, she is not gravely ill, she is not dead, she is not too poor to raise a child, she does not have some extenuating circumstances that made giving up Linet "make sense" or appear to be the "only option".... she simply did not want her.
Only by His grace He continues to remind me that it is FAR from my place to cast judgment on this mother, as much as I love her child. I ask why He knit Linet in HER womb... why not someone else's? Why not even mine? I know that He did it so meticulously and I wonder why He even took the time and precision and love to form this creature the way He did.
To be honest, at first I felt hindered from singing love over Linet like I do with Mercy, Pinky, and Obama. I'd be lying to tell her that she was loved and cherished and prayed for and wept over and sung to and held close before her mom left this earth after a hard, faithful fight to stay longer to raise her children. There is no pretty story to offer this little heart when she begins to wonder. This grieved me... how I so wanted to believe that someone else longed to be in my position--listening to her breathe as she sleeps, wiping sweat from her forehead (which I could only locate in the darkness by tracing the sweet breaths), and eyes filling with tears as she takes her first steps. It is so much easier when I can believe that her mom aches to be there with her. The inverse of this feels like a knife in my heart, on her behalf. A blow taken for her until she can receive it herself, fully. Oh but GOD. God... He does not forget her!!!! He is so clear that His love for her is STRONG. "Even these may forget".... He tells us it will happen. And then He relaxes my angry, questioning eyes by following with the most beautiful Love I will forever try to swallow... "but I will not forget you." I imagine Him showing her and letting her run her fingers over his rough hand as He says "See..."
Linet's sweet name has a place on His scarred hands... He sees her, He knows her, He rejoices over her, He remembers her. This is enough. It doesn't seem like it to me so many times, but it is. This is not the second best. This is the best. This is not seeing the glass half full or positive thinking or optimism or making good out of bad; this is GOODNESS. Pure and holy and undefiled truth that she is His, not forgotten. This is reason to sing...