God is holding on

I sat nursing Holden in the living room a few nights ago and I could hear JR singing to Emerson as he put her to bed.  It was a moment that thankfulness completely washed over me.  I love this little family and feel honored to call them mine.

During the weeks leading up to Holden’s birth, I felt an increase in worry.  We were approaching the moment we’d been waiting for a long time, when we would hopefully hold our next child in our arms.  That moment would either come or it wouldn’t and there was nothing I could do to control it.  I played one song on repeat consistently after hearing it at church, “King of My Heart” by Sarah McMillan.  There are two lines sung multiple times which struck something deep in my soul: “You are good” and “You’re never gonna let me down.”

These two lines are true.  They are true even on our darkest days.  Tears may fill my eyes as I think back on the pain of the past year, but I know those two things are true.  God was no less good last year on December 6 when we found out Maizie had died than He was on November 13 when Holden was born.  His goodness has never been in question.  His character is not determined by my circumstance.  God was good even in the darkness.  He showed us His goodness in His provision for us.  He surrounded us with community.  He preserved my life.  He kept us nourished.  He listened.  He comforted.  He healed some broken places and relationships.  He kept our eternity secure.  He forgave my sin and selfishness. He protected our marriage.  He remained in control.  He gave us many blessings we’ve done nothing to earn.  He opened my womb quickly.  Ultimately, He has shown us His goodness in the way He has loved us all when we have been far from Him and sent His Son as a payment to bring us back to Him. He is always good.

As I faced our due date, God’s goodness is what I wanted to remember.  This is what I preached to myself.  God is good.  In any possible outcome, He is good.  He never lets me down.  He has promised us much in scripture – He will make those things happen.  I can’t expect Him to be my personal genie, giving me a perfect life.  Suffering is not Him letting me down.  In fact, He tells me I will face it in John 16.

It was this song that I wanted played on repeat the last portion of my labor and for delivery (Sorry to the others in the room that had to hear it on repeat for 40 minutes, luckily its a 6 minute version).  The last lines I love are “When the night is holding on to me, God is holding on.”  As I think about the past year, nothing has been more true.  Part of the reason I loved the name Holden was because of this lyric.  His name stands as a reminder that even when the darkness, the pain, the waiting, the suffering are holding on tight and seeking to destroy me, God is holding on to me even tighter.  His grip on me is secure.  It will never let me down, even when I feel almost unable to hold onto Him.

Holden Ryan SmithFor the past three weeks we have celebrated this new life joining our family.  We could not be more delighted with Holden or in love with him.  Emerson constantly wants to hold him or touch him.  We love him.  I’m soaking up every snuggle because this season goes by in the blink of an eye.

Emerson meeting HoldenWe decorated our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  About halfway through the process, I found myself crying.  Holden was napping.  Emerson was helping.  The ornaments representing memories and trips and people were going up on the tree.  It felt like something was missing, someone was missing.  The seven month old little girl was missing.  Her ornament was missing.  The pain stung.  I could picture her developmental stage so clearly because of her due date’s proximity to Emerson’s birthday.  As I was pregnant with Maizie, this Christmas was the furthest thing into the future I had truly imagined with her.  That night I ordered an ornament for her, with her name so that we would always remember.

Maizie ornamentToday marks one year since we discovered that she was no longer with us.  It’s been a hard week as this date has approached.  We continue to live in the sacred dance of joy and grief.  Last night as I rocked Holden, so completely thankful for who he is, his health, and his placement in our family, I cried longing to rock the one I never held.  I don’t have the words to fully explain the dance of these two things.  All I can say is that joy and sorrow are not mutually exclusive.  They are currently co-existing in my heart in a full and deep way.  While we are so smitten with our little man, there are moments where we remember the loss with a new intensity after being reminded of what it’s like to nurture an infant.

God is good today on December 6, 2017, as I snuggle a healthy little boy whom I completely adore.  God was still good on December 6, 2016, as I saw a sonogram lacking a beating heart.  God has never let me down.  When the darkness holds on to me, God is holding on.