Thursday, June 24, 2010

Courage and Trust

I just found out that courage and trust are to be the topics of the next church women's retreat. I have grappled with those two things more over the last year and a half than in the previous 38 years combined, and yet, I am no closer to understanding them now than I was before.

It takes a special kind of courage to hear the specialist tell you there might be something wrong with your baby and then face 5 more months without knowing if he's right because you refuse to jeopardize the baby's life for your need to know. It takes a special kind of courage to hear, mere minutes after his birth, that, indeed, he does have an untreatable condition and your life will never be the same, and then to plant a smile on your face and accept the challenge so that no one will be negative about your beautiful baby.

That same kind of courage is needed to hand your amazing son, your heart, over to the doctor for heart surgery without certainty that he'll return alive. It's needed to smile when people say amazingly stupid and thoughtless things time and time again. It's necessary when your friends are rejoicing that parenting is just a season, and you know that for you, it is likely a lifelong venture without an earthly end.

It takes courage to finally accept that you cannot change your child, and instead choose to change the world in which he lives.

It takes a special kind of courage to decline the screenings in your next pregnancy and stand on principle that God is forming this life, too, especially when you now know all the things that could've gone wrong, but didn't, last time.

It is a courage that I don't possess.

It is a complete mystery to me. I don't own it. I don't hold it in my hand. I can't conjure it up at just the right moments. It has just been there. At the time, it didn't feel like courage at all...more like fear, dread, or discomfort mixed with a compulsion to do what's right.

I don't know where it comes from, but I suspect that trust might be the answer. Without a deep-seeded heart knowledge that God has your back, He loves you, and His ways are perfect, you are simply left with fear.

Fear without trust has no functional component. There is a compulsion with fear alone, but it is usually escape, to stand still, to retreat. Without trust, it never compels you to do the right thing, just the easiest thing.

Courage isn't like that. It doesn't dismiss the fear or pretend it's non-existent; it uses the fear to propel you forward to take action, to accept what's to come, to face the unknown.

I wish I did have courage. I wish I could own it, could pull it out at will. Then the dark days - the days when reality sucks the life out of any vision that I had - wouldn't send me to wallow in self-pity. Those are the days that I need to spend less time trying to conjure up something I don't possess and spend more time focusing on the One in whom I put my trust.