The following was written the night before Mr. Gore’s spinal fusion and I’ve just gotten around to finishing it up. Thanks for waiting. Even though you didn’t know you were waiting.
Betsie fell down the stairs this morning.
I was walking a few steps behind her, a hamper full of random stuff on my right hip, when I saw her foot slip just past the landing before she tumbled down…
My eyes were fixed on her slender little neck the entire time, willing it to remain untouched, prayers of “Oh, Lord!” and “Oh, God!” bouncing off of my tongue in panicked tones.
As she was rolled and tossed about by stair after stair, seemingly every part of her body made contact with the floor, except for her neck.
Finally, she landed with a “splat!” on her belly in the kitchen and I shot down to retrieve her, the hamper that I dropped in my distress tumbling down behind me, leaving a slew of toys and clothes on the stairs as it fell.
She was screaming.
I was sobbing.
And as we sat on the bottom step and rocked back and forth, our tears flowing, my heart racing, I could tangibly feel the grace of God in my arms.
In the body of my little girl who was alive and unbroken.
In her beating heart and her breathing nostrils.
Within minutes, her tears were spent.
But mine were just beginning.
“It’s okay, Mama…” she soothed me with her halting and precious toddler vocabulary. “You need some…toilet…paper?”
I nodded, and away she scampered, soon returning with a tiny piece of tissue that she used to pat my face and neck.
You know you’ve cried a river when your neck is wet.
It was awful, terrible, horrible and every other word in the thesaurus for “really super duper bad”.
But it was also interesting…
once my initial distress had subsided and I could think and say something besides “are you okay?” and “oh, Betsie” and “thank you, God!!”, and once my tears finally stopped flowing and my hands stopped shaking, I felt a surprising amount of gratitude for what I had just gone through.
For one, Mr. Gore’s surgery was tomorrow and I’d been needing to cry about it. Two birds. One horrifying stone.
And secondly, with that pending surgery in mind, my apprehensive heart needed to be reminded of the seen and unseen grace of God that guides our every step.
My husband has led me in this truth for years. A naturally fearful person, my anxiety began to climax when I first became a mom, and I found myself drowning in worst-case-scenarios and constant thoughts of what-could-happen…
Mr. Gore never indulged or babied these thoughts, but faithfully used the Sword of Truth to slice through my sin and lead me to a renewed mind, always pointing out that I was ignoring the million ways that God had taken care of me to focus on one scary situation (at a time) that hadn’t happened to me.
When he put it that way, I slowly began to see my fears for what they were: silly. Senseless. Illogical. Ungrounded. Totally unnecessary.
But even though I’ve grown, I still struggle sometimes.
Especially the day before my husband will be heavily sedated and having his spine tinkered with.
And for all these reasons, although it scared the living daylights out of me, seeing Betsie tumble down the stairs and walk away unscathed made me feel loads better about…well, everything.
It brought to mind all the times we’ve gone up and down the stairs and haven’t fallen. All the drives we’ve taken without crashing. All the sicknesses we’ve endured for a day or two before getting completely better. All the food we’ve eaten without choking…
all the millions of seconds and the countless moments where grace has sustained us and kept us safe and kept us from stumbling and kept us from sin and we never even had a clue.
I’m not promised health and life on any given day this side of heaven, and no amount of positive thinking can buy me that sort of security; but whether we live or die, are sick or healthy, are rich or poor, the grace of God is as sure on surgery day as it is on going up-and-down-the-stairs day. And whether Mr. Gore is working in the garden or going under the knife, his story is written and his life is firmly held in the hand of a most-wonderful Creator.
These are hard truths to comprehend, but they are comforting.
Rebekah asked me one day if I loved God more than I loved her…
I was about to pop out a textbook “of course I do!” but the words lodged themselves in the middle of my throat; I know my heart, and on my worst day, in the words of John Calvin, I am “an idol-making factory”, doting more on things seen than unseen. I might be redeemed, and I might even be devout, but my penchant for blindness and stupidity knows no bounds.
But the reason her question really stumped me was because, even on my best day, my love for God feels so different than my love for my family…
the two are all bound up together in a thick cord of awe and affection and gratitude, and if I am being very honest, it is hard to separate and categorize them sometimes.
Thus, my answer to what I wish was a simple question went something like this: “When I say ‘I love God’ it doesn’t feel like the same love I have for you, Rebekah. My love for you is different. But one thing I am really sure of…my love for you leads me to God. I can’t look at you and love you without thinking about God and loving Him more…”
I love my husband. I love my kids. They are walking reminders to me of the greatness of God, who can so intricately design specific personalities for specific purposes at very specific times; I am continually astounded and filled with wonder by the scope of His craftsmanship and I have a houseful of His handiwork to study. To me, their very presence shouts of “God!” It is like living among the stars…
But that love runs so deeply and throbs so intensely, and if I don’t guard myself, my worship can turn towards the created over the Creator. And questions plague me.
Would I still love God if Betsie had broken her neck today?
Would I still love Him if Mr. Gore doesn’t wake up from his surgery tomorrow? If he wakes up paralyzed?
Would I still be faithful if one of my worst-case-scenarios comes true?…
Oh, how I tremble in the wake of these accusatory questions, and there is only one thing that causes the trembling to stop.
The grace that tumbled down the stairs alongside my baby girl this morning.
The grace that will be with us tomorrow as Mr. Gore is wheeled into a surgery room.
The grace that has kept, is keeping, and WILL keep my feet from walking away from the faith, come what may.
The grace that has been there, since day one, before I even knew it existed.