Patience – the Elusive New Years Resolution

I had just settled into my new home, at the beginning of a new year, all the furniture in place, the dishes neatly stacked in the kitchen cabinets, my daughter’s bed made—at least for the moment, my husband’s office organized, and my closet put together with every shoe in its own individual cubby (a delightful sight).  I slumped into the rocking chair on the outside patio, proud of myself for the abundance of work accomplished and a sense of ‘ain’t this the life’, welling up in my tired but joyful soul. Finally, everything was absolutely perfect, like Mama always said, “Better than hot sliced bread with a slab of butter on a sunny, Sunday afternoon.”

Something slick, black and fast swooped by my droopy eyelids and caught my undivided attention. Two ebony crows were perched on my lanai, one arrogantly sitting on the head of my brand spanking new dolphin fountain, the other landing on the corner of my roof, and the two of them having quite a conversation about my house.  Now understand, I’m no Dr. Doolittle, but I could see by the look in those beady black eyes, this couple of squawkers were most assuredly sizing my house up for a long, and lengthy stay.

I stole over to the planter and wrapped my fingers around a few of those perfectly round little rocks and gave a determined throw at the nasty bugger on the corner of my roof.  Unfortunately, I’m no St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher, and my little rocks never made it more than eight feet high, nor three feet forward.  Plunk.  They landed in the pool, dismally missing the mark.  And still those crows stayed exactly where they perched, mocking me.  Nasty crows. 

There are chapters in life when we have to deal with the dark and dreadful things that swoop in and land on our hopes and dreams. I remember one of those incredibly trying times.

My husband and I had been married for five years when my beautiful little baby girl was born.  I took her in my arms and counted those little pink fingers and toes, kissing each one as I counted.  Her thick, black, curly hair and long eyelashes mesmerized me and I couldn’t get enough of her sweet baby smell. The best cologne God ever made.

Just a few days into her young life, the doctor came in with frightening news.  He said there was something wrong with her liver; it wasn’t functioning properly.  Her little body was filling up with toxins, and unless they could help her, she might die, or live with brain damage. The doctors said they hadn’t seen a situation quite like Meagan’s before and she became a case study for liver disorders.

Every few days we made the trek to St. John’s Mercy hospital for the necessary blood work—a needle in Meagan’s heel, to ascertain the toxicity of her blood.  At home, we had a special black-light set up above her crib and she had to wear black eye covers, to protect her vision.  For endless hours she lay under the purple lights to help lower the billirubin in her blood.  Week after week, we’d go for more tests and more needles.  I don’t know who cried the more—me or my baby girl.  Days turned to months while the doctors searched for answers to her malaise.

We were finally sent to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, where the liver specialists performed more tests and more blood work to see if they could help Meagan.  All the while her prognosis would vacillate from grim to hopeful and the roller coaster ride was excruciating.  It’s difficult to know how to plan a normal life when a child in the family is ill.  Everything comes to a standstill and emotions are placed on a shelf somewhere far out of reach, in order to cope with the fluctuating variables.  You don’t dare take them down and allow your heart to feel, or hope, but rather embrace a simple neutrality based on faith, to help you get through each day. 

I thought I’d never be the person who would question God. I really imagined that if hardship came my way, I would merely accept it with stoic faith and endure whatever valley the Lord chose to take me through. I was surprised one day to find myself asking, “Why me? Why my baby girl?  Why my family?” In the middle of the night, tears my constant companion, I wanted answers from the Almighty. There was, however, no still small voice of reply. This journey was not what I had planned for my lovely baby girl.  Wicked Crows.

I’ve often wondered where God is in all of this.  Was this part of His plan to develop character and integrity?  Was patience the goal?  Perhaps He was running a test as to human endurance and taking notes. All of this sounds far too calculated.  My experience with God is one of great love and benevolence.  

When my daughter was so ill, loving friends and family surrounded me. The best doctors were available to us and after a long and trying battle, my little baby pulled through the worst of her problems.  She just turned 21 this year and is so full of life. We can barely keep up with her.

Just when we think we are finally on the right track, there’s always some nasty dark thing that swoops in and steals our thunder, some trial and tribulation, some unforeseen obstacle… a family problem, a divorce, a child that disappoints, a health issue… something unpredictable… that’s part of the journey.  Nasty crows.

But I’ve decided crows are beneficial to our spiritual walk.  Because of them, we develop the necessary character to face the next assault with maturity and integrity.  We learn to use our experiences to help others dealing with similar issues. And we discover that God is always there in our brightest moments and our darkest hours to strengthen, love, and direct our path to a place of peace. How would we know of God’s grace and benevolence if we were never called up on to endure hardship?  

At this New Year’s time of resolutions and pledges, I realize that I can’t stop those crows from flying over my patio, but I can sure keep them from building a nest there! My pitching arm is improving daily and so is my spiritual walk of patience.

©2009, Tamra Nashman

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