Last week I wrote about how I’m learning to take the aches of my heart to God, but what of the intense ache I have been feeling as Tenley’s birthday draws near? What do I do with this ache in my heart that makes me want to hold onto Tenley and her precious baby days for dear life? The ache that makes me want to clench my eyes shut and not watch her grow another inch.
“Lord, why am I having such a hard time with Tenley’s birthday? Why does it seem so hard to face the fact that she is turning one?” I ask on an afternoon when this struggle to embrace Tenley’s upcoming birthday is about to break my heart.
With Tenley in my arms and tears on my cheeks, I hear Him answer with a question of His own. “Are you holding onto Tenley? Or are you holding onto me?”
This question, so loving in how deeply He knows me, strikes right at my need for security and comfort and the counterfeit ways I’ve been grasping for both.
After a lot of prayer and time with Him, God is helping me realize that my desire to have a natural delivery has led me into a false sense of security, and that my tendency to turn to Tenley and her sweet baby-dependence on me, has led me into a false sense of comfort.
All my life, I have felt an inner and driving need to be seen as beautiful and strong.
When I look back to the day Tenley was born, my eyes see an attempt at something that could have profoundly affirmed my desire to be seen as a woman of beauty and strength. To me, it looks like this attempt ended in complete and total failure due to my weakness and an ugly willingness to be defeated, to give up, and to quit.
With stunning truth, the kind that is difficult to look full in the face, God is giving me a glimpse of what this picture looks like to Him.
Through this experience, God is showing me that when He looks at me He sees a woman found in Him. He sees His precious one, full of beauty and strength, because He is beauty and He is strength. His image is placed in me. His likeness, there in me. Beauty. Strength. This is what He sees.
All this time I have been looking to an experience to affirm in me whether or not I am beautiful, whether or not I am strong, and I have allowed the outcome of this experience to have the verdict on me.
At last, I see and can begin to refocus my eyes and my heart on Him. He alone has the verdict on me. He alone is the only safe and true place for my security to be found. He sees me full of beauty and strength not because of the things I do, but because of who I am: His daughter, His creation, His beloved.
Onto comfort, and again, my failure to see.
Over the course of the past year, as I have battled with moments, sometimes days, of intense sadness and a deep-seeded sense of failure, I have often found myself going to Tenley for comfort. In fact, there have been many times when it seemed that Tenley, with her sweet face and baby ways, was the only thing that could soothe my aching heart.
Children are a gift from God. They do bring untold joy and comfort to the lives of those who love them, but my dread of Tenley’s birthday and my fear of losing her baby days, are evidence of my need for balance. Looking to my children to play a role that only God can fill is dangerous for them and me.
Again, God is helping me to see where my gaze has fallen short and is turning the eyes of my heart back to Him. “Are you holding onto Tenley? Or are you holding onto me?”
The answer is pure and clear: It’s time to find my solace in God.
Day by day these truths sink in. Little by little my aches drain out. I am learning to see what He sees; I am learning to hold onto to Him. And I am finding that when do, I am filled with all the security, comfort, peace, and joy a mended heart can hold.