Tuesday, November 20, 2012

{ on fear }

In my head, I do battle with SIDS daily.

I think that I have a great excuse for being freaked out that sudden infant death syndrome may sneak into our home: We've already been the ones with the perfectly healthy baby who is suddengly diagnosed with a serious anomaly on her second ultrasound. We've been the 1 in 400,000. We've drawn the short straw once already. Suddenly dangerously ill babies are no longer something that happens to "other people." That was us. Fear covers me like a cloak and I walk through my days and nights wondering when "it" is going to happen to us again...whatever sinister thing "it" may be.

I sneak into her room to check her breathing. Naps. Nighttime. Whenever she's asleep.

Often I get a little knot in the pit of my stomach when Mike leaves for work in the morning. What if Lainie doesn't wake up and I'm the only one here?

Last night Lainie just wouldn't fall asleep. She woke up every hour between 9pm and 1am, and then again at 4:15. One of those times, after I got her settled again and was thinking something along the
lines of "at least if she's crying I know she's alive," the Holy Spirit nudged me.

I think I'm protecting Lainie from SIDS. I put her to sleep on her back, with a pacifier. I try not to let her get overheated. I follow the recommendations.

And I pray for her. Every stinkin' time I put her down to sleep, I pray for protection from physical danger. {That's my code phrase for "SIDS" because I don't want to actually talk about it, say it, admit it--so I sort of wink at God when I say that and hope He knows what I mean.}

Somehow, I think that if I do all the "right things" and pray for her, that she will be okay.

The flip side is that I also think that she is one forgotten prayer away from...you know, "physical danger."

I had a crystal-clear mental picture of how I approach praying for Lainie's safety: God is a cosmic machine that's about to dispense SIDS, and as I pray I'm punching specific buttons in a certain order. As long as I punch the right buttons in the right order, Lainie escapes harm. Thus, I deceive myself into thinking I control Lainie's safety. The flip side, though, is that if I forget to pray--if I say the wrong words, or put them in the wrong order, or whatever--then it's my fault if something bad happens to her.

I was now quite awake and quite uncomfortable. Though I try to deny it, this is exactly what I'm doing. It's like chanting spells, or offering sacrifices, or following some hand-me-down superstitions to try to appease some capricious mythological god.

I remembered a conversation Mike and I had a day or two earlier, where I shared my irrational fear of there being an earthquake while he's at work and I'm stuck and can't get to Lainie. He said that whatever happens, earthquake or no earthquake, Jesus loves us and will take care of us. Jesus loves us just as much each day earthquake-free day as He does if and when there's an earthquake. An earthquake doesn't mean we are in more danger than when there is no earthquake; we are still loved and protected by Jesus, and if Jesus is who He says He is, we have nothing to fear. Earthquakes don't take Jesus by surprise. Neither do naps, or a mom who's too tired to mumble a prayer, or the mysterious list of unknown-but-possible-causes of SIDS. And Jesus is bigger than all those things--His love is bigger than any harm that can be caused by any earthquake. His love is bigger than SIDS. He loves Lainie more than I do, and whatever comes into her little life, it has to get through the hedge of His love around her first. A hedge that is completely independent of--and not reliant on--me praying.

I remembered this from an Elyse Fitzpatrick book I'm reading:

"We are loved by God, and we live in His world--not in a world of fate or luck or karma. Oh, glorious, shocking, transforming truth! We are loved by God! We belong to Him! No superstitions, no lists, no getting our act together to make Him love us. Simply believe."
And I realized: I'm not praying for Lainie because I believe God loves her. I'm praying for her like one who believes He doesn't love her. I'm believing lies, just like Eve in the garden...just like all our ancestors, I'm listening to the accuser instead of the Savior. It was--is--so shocking, so gut-wrenching to see how pervasive this lie is in my life. How often I choose to believe and act on lies instead of truth.
I've been mulling over this all day, between diaper changes and spit-up clean-up and washing dishes. Praying for Lainie feels so free now, like cramped wings taking flight after being bound for a long time. Ann Voskamp and others often speak of preaching the gospel to themselves, and I have always been a little tentative about that. What exactly do they mean? How do you do that, "preach the gospel to yourself"? Now I think I know. It's recognizing when I'm believing a lie and replacing it with Truth. It's asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to me and change my heart.
This is all very unfinished and mid-process, and I'd love to think it through some more before publishing this post. But my very-much-alive little girl is shrieking in the next room, and if I don't post this now it will be January before I can finish this train of thought!


  1. I'm so glad you did post this train of thought! I can *so* relate to this kind of fear, and love how you linked it to the (difficult) idea of preaching the gospel to yourself, "it's recognizing when I'm believing a lie and replacing it with the Truth". Good, good words. Not easy, but good. May you rest in the comfort of that hedge!

  2. Hugs to you, sweetie! It seems like you are addressing your fears in an upfront way, so kudos on that. And know that I'm thinking of you (all three)!