A Dwelling Place
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart...” (Rainer Maria Rilke)
I have spent the past seven months running in desperation. Running away. Running to the unknown. Running from the Lord. This past week, I experienced a “shift.”
Advent has been so hard. WAITING.
Waiting to feel our new baby consistently kick. Waiting for the 20 week ultrasound. Waiting for a break from work. Waiting for our little girl’s 7 month entry into heaven. Waiting for my heart to open up and soften to receive Christmas this year.
It was long. Ugly. Hard. Bumpy. And painful.
The pending outcome was unknown. Patience was waning. Endurance spent. Exhaustion set in. Daily I wondered, “How can I possibly make it to another tomorrow?” In a sense, perhaps I had a better glimpse this Advent of that journey to Nazareth for Mary and Joseph. Was it actually a pretty picture? Surely not.
Certainly there were dark, inner questions encircling their every hour on their long journey. Surely there was hesitation. Surely there was a lack of trust. Surely there was fear. And doubt. And pain. And a desire for an end. A resolution. An answer. Some comfort.
The first Christmas. Their first Christmas. My first Christmas in this new normal. I’ve been terrified.
This week, so much was looming over me...anxiety, anxiousness, questions, uncertainty, doubt, confusion. Sadness for my living children. Sadness for myself. Sadness over my little girl.
I went to the chapel one night, in the throes of my grief. Visceral memories of her delivery and remembering how I let God into the pain that day entered into my mind and heart. I felt the pain again. All of it. Physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.
I remembered how I felt like I was being crucified. In my mind I saw myself climbing up onto the cross with his Son. Each contraction, each moment drawing nearer to her exiting my body, each wave of intense pressure compounded with fear...I felt His nails driving into my body. And I begged. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Don’t leave me. Stay with me. Stay with me in this pain. Unite Yourself to me. I can’t do this alone.
And in those torturing moments, the breath of God was so unbelievably close. The presence of the Holy Spirit—tangible. An outpouring of grace falling upon me, my husband, my friends gathered, and the hospital staff. It was so thick you could almost slice it and hand it out for the taking. It was so dark in that room, yet His presence was so visible and so tangible. A veil was lifted. Heaven met earth. And my girl was taken. And it was immensely beautiful and unbelievably painful all at the same time.
Then I forgot. Over the subsequent months, anger became my buffer. My sorrow built a wall. My hopelessness buried me deep. My confusion made me flee in the other direction. I didn’t want to need Him. I didn’t want to allow Him close. My heart was broken. My spirit waning. My confidence crushed. I didn’t want to be vulnerable.
All of Advent, I hoped I could overcome that. I hoped I could let Him back into my heart. But I was too scared. I, partly, didn’t want Christmas to come, because I was too ashamed. Ashamed to receive Him. Ashamed and unworthy.
Then this week, in a raw moment before the Blessed Sacrament, I poured out my heart in a state of desperation. I remained bowed low, and I relived that hospital scene. And I felt His presence engulf my emotions. And my hurt. And my brokenness. And my unworthiness. He held it out right before me. I cried intense tears of sorrow and remorse for not letting Him into this mess over the past seven months. In that moment, I recognized my dire need for Him. And I pleaded for Him to enter into the mess of the stable of my heart.
He doesn’t want my perfection. He doesn’t want my facade. He wants ME. All of me. Where I am. This is real. I am living this story.
He wants my heart. He wants to enter in. He wants to dwell within the shattered spaces. And if His will is my truest desire, then how can my healing be inevitable? How will He not draw near? How will He not find me in this tragedy? How will the Healer not heal? Surely my plea shined down like the North Star upon my fragile and feeble existence in that room. I walked away from that space on a new level of this grief journey. I didn’t feel so alone. I didn’t feel abandoned. I felt hopeful. I felt Him. And I felt ready for Christmas.
That night, in His presence, my heart truly became a dwelling place for Him. And with that, the seven month mark, didn’t sting so much. It was replaced with a peace. A confidence. A gratitude. An assurance. A joyful expectation. A long awaited outcome of a promise to come. The promise of a little baby, who was crucified on a cross for me. Who knows me. And in return, dwells within me.
Yes, if I cannot have my baby this Christmas, then the Christ babe can enter in. My heart is ready.
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)