I wish I could tell you I was optimistic about the New Year, but given the overall shitty nature of this past year, I’ll try and keep my hopes grounded in reality. Hope and faith are kinda hard to come by these days. I know that probably makes me a really bad Christian, but I’ve never purported to be doctrinally strict (and, let’s face it, that’s kind of the point behind Christianity, isn’t it…?)
Things have been really tough; my baby’s been in and out of the hospital and we’re still not totally sure what’s going on. All I know is that I wake with dread every morning, afraid I’ll find her breathless, panting in her crib, looking up at me with those big wide eyes, unable to tell me what’s wrong or how she feels. Or worse—which I can’t bring myself to put into words.
I have flashbacks of that nightmarish ambulance ride last October, her strapped into her car seat carrier on top of the gurney. I see flecks of anxiety in the eyes of the paramedics – a patient this young is not the norm.
But you know all this already, right? Because I’ve been praying so hard over all of this for the past six months. I’ve tried the quiet, meditative prayers. I’ve recited Psalms. I’ve kneeled at the altar at church, something I’ve not voluntarily done for 38 years now, but hey I’m trying everything. I’ve cried out to you at 4am with tears streaming down my face, arms numb from holding a baby covered with tubes and lines, holding her at the just the right angle so as not to bend any of the wires that will set off the wails of an alarm and send nurses rushing. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. I’ve prayed for my enemies, prayed for world leaders. I haven’t done drugs for years. I’ve searched the Bible for answers, but there are so many stories, so many interpretations. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted, God. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Dear God, if you could just let us get through this year without a scary trip to the hospital, I’d be really appreciative. I know that there are some mommies and daddies who are happy to be in the hospital, happy just for their sweet babies to be alive. I know that there are children who are sex trafficking victims and victims of other types of horrible abuse. I know that we are lucky to have a roof over our head, clothes on our bodies and more than enough food. My concerns may seem small in comparison, but they dominate my every thought and action.
And so a new year begins with a whole new shelf full of medications and a notebook full of instructions on what to do when the medications do not work. The promise of a new year is supposed to bring about optimism, joy and hope that things will be better, so why do I feel like my heart is filled with a thousand sharp stones?
I used to think that it all came down to hope and faith. And that because I failed to have enough faith or wasn’t trying hard enough to be hopeful, both escaped me.
But here is what I have learned: if you are not bursting full of hope, it doesn’t mean you are hopeless. Similarly, if you are not completely led by faith, it doesn’t make you faithless. It is perfectly okay to land somewhere in between. Most of us do. Because children get sick. Tragedies strike even the nicest people. Devastation can occur when you least expect it, but expecting devastation at every turn is no way to live. I look to this new year with the smallest fleck of hope and a mustard seed of faith. That’s all I’ve got left in me. And thankfully, that’s all you ask.