The Night I Forgot My God – a mother’s story.
Have you ever had a moment of brokenness that even after it is over, months later, you can think back to and recall perfectly how you felt – and how much it changed you?
I want to share it with you today. It’s from 5 days after Edison was born. It’s definitely not the prettiest version of me. It’s raw and hard and ugly, but I want to share it with you today, over 15 months later. I’ve recounted this story to so many people in person, but never quite gotten up the nerve to put it on paper. But today I want to try.
In truth, I think it’s been about 2 hours.
Eric is holding me and our 5 day old baby boy is sound asleep next to me.
And I feel the walls caving in on me.
Looking back now, I laugh a little too hard when I think about the ignorance of my fears that night. I was so afraid that he was going to roll over, get out of the swaddle somehow or something else essentially impossible for a 5 day old baby. He was perfectly safe.
But, alas, I was a new mom – so all the horror stories I’ve heard and read over the past few months are sparring for their 5 seconds of fame inside my head.
This should be one of the happiest moments of my life. We left the hospital with our finally-less-jaundiced, fat, very healthy, sleeping soundly, baby boy tonight — so why am I crying?
Because of the weight.
All the weight I am carrying.
Not the physical pounds I’ve gained (as most new moms do), but the invisible weight. The worry, the fear, the insecurity, the lies of the world. The kind of weight that you are unaware of until the scale tips and it all threatens to crash in on you at once, burying you alive.
The kind of weight that you hide from the rest of the world.
The weight that stems from carrying deep rooted insecurities or big scary fears by yourself for far too long.
It’s been 9 long, wonderful, challenging, beautiful, stressful months carrying this miracle in my body. And his dad and I are so overjoyed by his entrance in the world.
But right now, in this moment, I’m terrified. On this bed at 3 am, in the dark of night, I am not just fearful, not just worried, no… It is a visceral, panicked, adrenaline-pumping terror that is raging a war inside my heart.
And it’s spiraling out of control. I can’t seem to grasp hold of it and push it down.
I’m looking at Edison and his little lips taking in his fragile breaths, and I can’t sleep. I can’t breathe… My mind is just so loud, so loud I have to cover my ears.
I’m forcing breaths to come, in – out – in – out, but it’s like I’m stuck in quicksand. The more I try to get free, the deeper I fall into the panic that is threatening to drown me.
So, for a moment, I give up and let it wash over me. Sometimes this helps, to embrace the breakdown… to feel all the emotions and just get it all out of my system.
But it’s too much…the panic, the fear, the frailty of his innocence, the weight of my responsibility. And I shake and cry and feel like my heart is going to break.
It’s his innocence I can’t shake. His complete and utter lack of self-reliance.
It’s his small little organs that are so fragile. His little heart that I can’t see to ensure it’s pumping, his lungs that are so small and I am incapable of ensuring they open for his next breath. That anyone could do anything to him. His defenselessness. He is solely dependent upon me to provide and care for him. Me. A screw up and a failure and well, look at me! I’m a hot mess and I’m the one who is responsible for his LIFE?
And it’s this thought that sinks it’s claws in deep and starts to drag me under.
I can easily say I’ve never felt this way in my life. I’ve never experienced an emotion with this intensity.
I’ve experienced grief and pain and heartbreak. But this pain, looking at my child and feeling this heaviness of the responsibility placed on my shoulders, no, I’ve never felt anything like this. There is nothing that has ever racked my heart and soul in such a way.
Eric is also there. He’s holding me, telling me truths that I can’t hear. Telling me who I am to him, that he’s there with me, that he loves me. Wiping away my tears and grasping my shoulders to steady me as I sob.
It’s his voice that cuts through the haze like a knife and stills the chaos:
“Bethany, you aren’t in control here and you never will be. Edison’s life will never be yours to control. I think you are forgetting you aren’t in this alone. He is waiting on you to give this to Him.”
I just stare at him. His eyes are red and blue. Blood-shot and exhausted from a crazy last few days at the hospital, where’s he has stood guard over Edison’s unit for hours and hours while Edison cried and the light healed his jaundiced body. All the while, Eric forced me to rest. And I see his hair and beard all disheveled, probably from running his hands through his hair in thought, in waiting or in restlessness. And it’s like I’m looking at him for the first time in my life and seeing all these things about him that my own grief clouded.
He’s so beautiful in that moment. His voice is raw, his mind must be so tired and yet, he’s solid as a rock. He’s always been solid, always so constant. And a gentle grin plays on his lips…
“You know that, right?” he says.
And I start laughing. Laughing hysterically like some sort of maniac. You could have recorded this laugh and used it for Joker in the next Batman movie. Eric’s looking at me like I’m a complete psychopath at this point – he must think I’ve just cracked, and this is the end of it all. Like, maybe he needs to call 911 or something…
But what he doesn’t know is I’m laughing because of how ridiculous I feel.
Because here I am, in arguably one of the biggest perspective-shifting moments I’ve faced in long time and I’m clueless as to what to do. I’m clueless to bring it to my GOD – the GOD who has crafted the very baby who’s the source of my panic – for help.
His words are like a bucket of ice water on my face waking me up – wait… Jesus.
Oh Bethany, you fool.
And so my world shifts in that moment, in an instant.
Relief floods my body.
My chest can rise and fall again.
Peace rushes into the room, filling every space in such a way that I can almost see it physically before me, like a wind.
All because I forgot about my God.
My God who has stood by me in the midst of much greater trials. My God who has delivered me from my sin, placed His hands on my cheeks and kissed away my tears time after time in my life.
My God who knows my every thought, who sees me for who I am and loves me the same. My God who pursues me, even in moments when I am running full force in the opposite direction of Him.
I forgot Him.
My own stress and distress blinded me to the answer that was right in front of my face… the answer that I’ve written in on every test before now in my life. I was zoned in on my own in-capabilities.
That’s Satan’s easiest tactic – keeping you focused on your lack of ability so you won’t remember His infinite ability.
When you are weak and tired of this life and it’s weight, Satan wants to keep you from focusing on the power at your disposal. He wants to keep you unfocused, overwhelmed by the small details so you can’t see the answer written write in front of you. So you won’t feel the peace, have the relief and rest in the power of our almighty God.
When your toddler smacks you upside the face with his toy light saber and you wonder if he’ll ever learn the word “no.”
When you have to come clean about a major sin you’ve committed to a personal friend.
When you know your job is up for review and your stressed you’re going to lose your job.
When you have to watch your teenager get their heart-broken over and over because of the choices they’ve made.
When you can’t seem to juggle it all and you feel lost.
Whatever it is… just give it to Him. He is ready and waiting to take it from you.
Because my two hands alone are full of baggage, of failure, of ignorance, of immaturity. They are impossibly incapable of providing me with peace and carrying the weight of this life.
In fact, when I try to do things through my own power, I crumble. I end up sitting on a bed at 3 am, crying my heart out to my husband, only breathing out the breaths that I’m holding in, to speak in desperate pleas that our baby will just keep breathing.
When I try to carry the weight with my own two hands, I am a small, weak version of myself. A version of me that is highly self-centered and negative and panicky. A version of myself that focuses on my husband to fix my problems instead of God. A version of myself that isn’t pretty at all.
But, when He takes my hands in His, everything changes.
I am a force to be reckoned with for Christ’s love for the world.
I am a driven pursuer of healing for the wounds the world inflicts on those hearts closest to me.
I am a daughter of the most high King, whose identity comes from Him alone.
I am an heir to the throne of Heaven, I sparkle and shine in His light.
I am a professional at casting off fear and worry.
I am a passionate advocate for those marginalized.
I am an orator of His story to the world, meticulously choosing my words to show that His victory is mine.
I am a level-headed, relentless counselor who helps others find God in the midst of their trials.
I am a lion of a woman, ready to protect my marriage against the depravity of man.
I am a smart communicator, addressing issues head-on, before they consume me.
I am a strong, fierce mother who will raise up strong, fierce children who stand up for what is right.
I am a wife who aggressively falls in love with her husbands character each day.
I am relentless.
I am capable.
I am smart.
I am a vessel.
I am adaptable.
I am known.
I am gentle.
I am a risk-taker.
I am good.
I am kind.
I am patient.
I am loving.
I am focused.
I am not a fool.
And I don’t forget my God.