Today, I’ve been thinking of the millions of fathers and mothers throughout history who know that parenthood is a call to love someone so much it aches. And that many times parenthood is also a call to say those impossibly painful words…”Goodbye, my lamb, Goodbye.”
Last night I stumbled on this poem written by Elizabeth Prentiss in the 19th century after the loss of two of her children…
I thought that prattling boys and girls
Would fill this empty room;
That my rich heart would gather flowers
From childhood’s opening bloom.
One child and two green graves are mine,
This is God’s gift to me;
A bleeding, fainting, broken heart—
This is my gift to Thee.
As we drove through town today I looked at all the old Victorian houses and wondered, “How many mothers cried tears of loss behind those beautiful Victorian walls?” I felt a fellowship of suffering with the multitudes of women throughout human history who experienced having to say goodbye to those they loved most, often when their little ones were just beginning their lives. Most of my closest friends have had to say goodbye to at least one baby through miscarriage, and I know that there will be more. This is the painful reality of life, even life in the 21st century. And through it all, from Eve’s first loss of a son…up to this very moment of human history…God has always been the same. The same kind God who has tenderly carried millions of mommies and daddies through such deep grief…is my God today. The God who painfully, but willingly, gave up His very own Son. He knows the ache Reid and I are feeling this cold, dark day in February.
To love is to ache. No one knows that quite like those who also know the highest joy of belonging to someone and being their mommy and daddy. We cannot know the ache unless we risked and loved. We cannot know the love unless we risk the ache.
And so, today I will chose to love each of my four treasures…in the ways that the Lord has given me. I will ask Jesus to love three of them through me, and one of them for me…until that Day when I see my little boy in a place where there are finally no more “Goodbyes.”
Oh Lord, here is my bleeding, fainting, broken heart, please make it my gift to Thee.