They come in and out of the room and ask question after question and I repeat, for what seems like the 3 trillionth time, what little I know of his last six months and twenty three days on earth. I unload the broken pieces I know of his story and we work together to fill in the gaps. I catch myself saying words like "usually" when describing his habits and then realize I have only known him for two days--what do I know of his usually? I remind the doctors and nurses and nutritionists who probe me again and again that we are still nearly strangers.
He cries incessantly in the crowded waiting room and women look at me with eyes that will me to please, for everyone's remaining sanity, find a way to make the baby in my arms be quiet. Though our skin tells that I didn't birth him, they look to me as if I am the only one in the room with the ability to calm him. As he squirms and writhes in discomfort, I want to tell them that they are welcome to give it their best shot, because he doesn't yet know me from any of them.
I hold his abrupt entry into my life against him at times, sometimes wanting to cry back at him during especially public or drawn out meltdowns that "this isn't too fun for me either, kid." I get so frustrated with 10 little pounds of pure innocence when I want to get more than 45 minutes of sleep at a time. I question if this is really where I'm "called" to be if I have such a crappy attitude about it a good bit of the time. And then I go to the dark place of imagining Katie Davis, not only being super excited at the chance to love a sick baby all throughout the night, but also sharing her faith with the nurses and doctors and other patients in the ward (instead of the negative attitude and complaints of their negligence). Comparison kills.
All this to say, I am learning lately that there is nowhere I can go where I will need His grace any less. I seek out those places, in search of the "perfect fit" or "my calling" thinking that because of the way He made me, I certainly ought to need Him less there. Why haven't I landed in that place yet? I sigh and think "Man. I really thought I would be pretty good at loving sick kids. Guess I was wrong again.... Back to the drawing board."
Sometimes I just get tired of needing Him so damn much. Good Lord, can we not take off the training wheels yet?! I am familiar with this... I signed up for this! Why can't I fly solo here yet? Is it ever coming?! If not, am I in the wrong place? Why am I not more joyful in this moment? Why isn't this natural and beautiful and lovely and effortless and "like breathing" yet?
Because I am believing a lie.
I think I first heard it from Oprah when I was in High school and had more interest in what she said than what Jesus says. I even wrote it on one of my binders, I think. "Your true passion should feel like breathing; it's that natural." I think I've been looking for this dreamy place all along and to be honest, I have come up short every time--usually settling for the closest thing I can find and being annoyed that I can't just be naturally good (and independent) at anything.
I am coming to see there is no such place. Sure there is a place where my precise strengths and passions can combine to maximize the glory He receives as I live out life here on earth. These places exist for all of us, I know they do. We were not created each with different gifts and cares and loves to operate outside of the Body, to the benefit of the world (or ourselves, of course).
But where I've been so deceived is my thinking that these places will be natural and lovely and beautiful and effortless and maybe even easy. I believe Oprah a little too much and then get angry with myself when I am face to face with the seemingly ugly fact that nothing "good" I do will ever feel as effortless as breathing. Nothing "good" in me will ever be anything but that which He has done. Like Paul, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." I just can't.
Guilt floods in about how I am failing Him by sucking so bad at loving people -- the people I have chosen to love, based on where I felt His nudges. The truth is I want to depend more on my strengths than on His grace. It feels safer there.
I promise that I love my life and the places He has me (((not even joking, this sentence was interrupted by the dreadful sound of projectile vomit being shot through the mesh walls of Isaac's pack n' play bed.... His only bed, now covered in vomit at the early hour of 11:36pm))). Haha, but really I do. There is a lot of hard (cue teeny tiny boy being waken from sleep vomiting the 7 different medicines he had to take tonight plus 2 whole bottles of Pediasure through both nose and mouth--did I mention he's malnourished and really really needs that food his body keeps rejecting? And those meds he can't keep down are supposed to be the ones fighting off all of the stuff that has been attacking his body for the past 7 months?), so I don't love it in the blissful skipping through fields way -- but I love it in the "holy crap. How in the world do I have the honor of being a part of the story God is writing for this boy He loves?" way.
All I'm saying is I don't think I have to turn in my resignation letter just because I literally have to pray the words "Jesus, help me not to hate this baby when he wakes me up in 30 minutes. And then again 45 later. And then again." as I lay my head on the pillow at night. I need that. He knows it better than anyone.
You don't have to question your entire marriage when you have to pray the words "God, please give me the grace to not punch this guy in the face tonight." We don't have to quit our jobs and search for something better just because we literally can't get through an hour without crying out "Lord, help me not to spit in my boss's face when he critiques my work for the 50th time today."
I'm famously bad at making up examples (which you know if we've ever had a conversation), but you get my point. Needing grace--being absolutely desperate for Him, having nothing of our own going for us is a beautiful place to be. It doesn't mean we are in the wrong place--it might just mean we're exactly where He wants us. I need to write that on my arm. It's good to need Him this much. It assaults my flesh in the best way.
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." --2 Corinthians 12:9