We drove through the storm late last night-me behind the wheel, my Abram in the back seat, delirious with fever, vomiting uncontrollably into the bright blue emesis bag I purchased in bulk when Jesse underwent chemo and radiation-our tires steadily kicking water out beside us as we barreled down the massive 11 lane highway we live nearby toward the closest late night clinic. The thunder rumbled, shaking the van, like an outward expression of my inward disposition. I’ve felt rumbly a lot lately, thunderous to my core, shouting at God so constantly my chest hurts from yearning cries for relief.
I have no idea what the folks who land here take away from what I write. Words translated through reader’s perspective have meanings beyond what I may take from them myself. I hope, though, that you walk away seeing real. Real truth, real pain, real rejoicing, real sorrow, real hope. My God, I pray you see Hope here. My “real” right now is full of hard-both ordinary and not so ordinary. We’ve been sick for a solid month. We are currently on our second strand of the flu, and our youngest son spiked a fever that hit 106 last night. An ice bath, ice pack on the back of the neck, fever reducers he could not quit vomiting up, and a van ride to a clinic through wet streets surrounded by flashing sky later, and he was able to hold down nausea meds, allowing him to ingest much needed fever reducers and fluids. I awakened every hour to give him meds and sips of whatever he felt he could swallow throughout the night, and to do the same for the other three, who are also not well. I’ve had precious little time with my eyes closed lately, but the physical exhaustion is a familiar one and feels comfortable and right for this season of my soul. It is hard to rest.
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In the clinic last night, Abram had a difficult time letting the nurse do the throat swab to check for strep. He was stretched out on the table after the first attempt, wailing, eyes swollen, crying out at the nurse who had long left the room, “I’m ready! I’m ready now! I’m sorry I was scared. Please! Please do the swab! Please come back…please…I can have 3 seconds of brave! Please…Mommy, please tell her to come back…” Abe is a unique little fella, his brain wired a bit differently than the norm, tender and fiery, wildly perceptive, equal parts fear and feist. Because of this, I spent the drive over preparing him for the swabs (a significant fear of his) I knew he would need to get through:
“3 seconds of brave, remember? You don’t need to be brave for long. Not for forever, just for now. All you need is 3 seconds of brave, Abe.”
As I stretched my arms around his overheated, trembling body in the clinic and lifted him into my embrace, I whispered into his ear how proud I was of him for being brave, even in the aftermath of yielding to his fear. He was brave, you know. Brave to try. Brave to fail. Brave to yell into his fear the courage he knows he can have.
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I wept in the solitude of darkness when all was well and we were home and together once again, Abram sleeping a medicated but peaceful sleep on a mattress on our living room floor. “3 seconds of brave”, I told myself. Something inside of me has broken as I’ve replayed yesterday’s events in my mind through the night and well into today, my child’s despairing, pained expression flooding my thoughts. How often I am stretched out, crying in despair for God to please come back, to give me a chance to show my own 3 seconds of brave. And how swiftly He does scoop me up, wrecked and trembling with weary and pain, and whisper in my ear “You are brave, you know.” Swiftly, he arrives because He is so near, you see. Had I whispered instead of screamed, He would have heard me still.
Not for forever, just for now; this life. The thunder has stopped rumbling for the first time in months. Everything has gone quiet and a warmth has been rising in my soul like the heat rises off concrete after a hard rain in a Southern summer. Beloved, this human life. It is so hard. For all of us, not just for me. Inescapable difficulty will come to everyone at some point. But it is survivable. Because He is near, it is so. Every moment of it endurable. Because He is near, it is so. 3 seconds of brave at a time. Just 3 seconds of brave.
Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:24