In Spite of Myself


I just knew I wasn’t going to make it. There was no way to navigate, no way to avoid the scarring or the jarring that was sure to come. It was only a matter of time, really. Closing my eyes tight, I braced for impact.

She was born slowly, sweetly – definitely the gentlest labor I had yet endured. But now, she lay much too still with a grey pallor that made my heart ache. The birthing room, which moments before had been so full of joy and anticipation, now hummed with a silent diligence as nurses worked to figure out what was wrong with my little girl. They worked against the clock to save her life…and rescue mine.

Unknown to the doctors until she was born, my newborn began her fight for life about a week before she made her dramatic entrance. And she had been gripped in the battle as she slipped from my body and opened her deep blue eyes and took her first weak breath.

You see, she had ABO incompatibility, which essentially means that my body thought her little body was an uninvited invader.

The “misunderstanding” caused my immune system to send antibodies across the placenta to destroy this new life within me. It was not what I wanted. I certainly didn’t ask for it. And yet, just as she was miraculously knit together within me, in a sudden shift, in spite of myself, she began to be taken apart instead.

I have thought about this phenomenon quite a lot ever since.

How sometimes the very things we cherish deeply and protect fiercely can still fall devastatingly from our grasp. Regardless of our passion and intent, it spins out of our control and we are left scrambling for understanding.

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts to avoid them, we walk through terrible valleys. And if we were honest, we would confess that we are just not sure how we will survive the journey.

Perhaps, as you are reading this, you are thinking about your prodigal child, who is so very far from home. Or maybe you are grieving over a marriage that is losing more ground than it is gaining. Perhaps you are walking with a loved one through cancer and the odds and test results just don’t point to hope.

I wish I had all the answers. Shoot. I wish I had some answers. I don’t. But I know a God who does.

He sees it all, beloved.

The whole picture belongs to Him alone and He alone is good.

And as much as I would like to think He owes me (or you) a slice, He doesn’t. His goodness walks with me and His goodness walks with you and we  don’t have to see or feel it for that to be true.

His faithfulness never leaves us. His tender mercies are new every morning. We don’t deserve more than He has already given us, but He promises us eternity still. We are not entitled to more, yet He gives us more grace than we could ever exhaust.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

John 1:16

He loves us in spite of ourselves, in spite of our mess, in spite of our woundedness, our brokenness, our mistakes, our trip-ups, our let downs. He loves us through and over and under all of those things. His love and Presence saturates even the darkest of valleys. And somehow, some way, He moves between the horizon and our grandest hopes and gives exactly what is best.

God is good. And as much as we may want to, we don’t get to qualify what that looks like.

My daughter, who I placed on that medivac helicopter, completely unsure if I would ever see her alive again this side of heaven, turned 12 years old last week.

Tears still fall when I recount the story. I still feel the pang of loss and uncertainty when they took her from my arms and I just couldn’t fathom the happy ending up ahead.

But He saw it.

He saw the transfusion that would return life to her bones. He saw the doctors and the test results. He leaned down and breathed grace over her, over all of us. He knew where He was going with our story and as I watched it unfold, I learned that I could trust Him with what I hold most dear.

He brought us all to the edge of ourselves so that we could see Him unmistakably.

Even now, just thinking of those desperate moments takes my breath away. I will always remember the time when life and hope and joy turned upside down and I felt totally out of control. I don’t want to forget what that felt like, strange as that may sound.

I don’t want to forget those days because I don’t want to misplace my trust and my hope every day.

I don’t want to take my marriage, my children, my life for granted. I know who they belong to…who I belong to and who is writing our story. And each day, I lean in to opening my hands (and my heart) up just a little bit wider.

If you are reading this and your heart is aching for a story line you just can’t anticipate, please know that I am lifting you up. I pray that as you walk through the unknown and those hard, waiting spaces, you will see His goodness and mercy, His faithfulness and hope paving the way home.

The song I want to share today is from Housefires entitled, “You Are My Peace.” My prayer is that as you listen, you will let the melody and lyrics wash over your heart and bring you comfort and reassurance as you walk your road of courage and obedience with Jesus this week.

With joy for the journey,