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**All quotes, unless specified, are from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
My body still aches from having pushed her out three days earlier. But that is nothing compared to the ache in my heart as I watch her face contort in a cry of pain, her legs pulling up to her chest over and over as she hurts.
My eyes pour out the tears that she cannot yet form, and I hold her to my chest as I whisper again and again in her ear that everything will be ok, that this is only temporary.
Here I am, a mum of three days, watching my daughter hurt.
I had been wondering if what I felt for her was really love, if I really thought of her as mine, if I had bonded with her as a new mother should. I had prayed for a deeper sense of that love.
And, as hard as it was, my prayer had been answered.
Nine hours of crying from a baby usually so calm gets to you, breaks your heart, your spirit, your resolve. But still, all I can do is look at her and know that I love her, that I would do anything to help her feel better, that my heart breaks because she has it completely and utterly in her grasp. It was not the way I would have chosen to discover that love. But I am grateful for it all the same.
Sometimes we can look at the pain, the shame, the grief, the sickness and greed and war in the world, and we can find ourselves crying out “why?”
If God is truly good, if He is all goodness, then why do we hurt?
Recently, I have been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. This book is changing me from the inside out, scooping out the pain and questions and doubts, and replacing it with peace that comes from the book’s main message: choose thanks.
“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied.”
— Matthew 14:19-20
“He looked up to heaven, and blessed“, eucharisteo, “gave thanks”. Miracles happen when we give thanks.
Prayers are not always answered as we expect them to be. Pain is not always a curse. Grace can be found in the dark. If we only choose the daily rhythm of eucharisteo, of thanksgiving.
As I thank God daily for the little, everyday graces – for the rose petals falling delicately on the dining room table, for the fan that whirs in the background to keep me cool in the midday heat, for the mixer that works to make bread for me in the kitchen – I learn slowly to develop a thankful heart in all situations, even the harder ones.
As I give thanks for the opportunity to realize the love I have for this precious little girl who is in such pain, I feel my soul sigh relief, and in my calmer state I am able to hold her steady, to whisper a song in her ear, to kiss her softly. And the miracle follows. She looks into my eyes and is soothed. She breathes a little steadier, kicks a little softer, and she trusts that mummy will make it better.
I watch her through the tears and I realize how much I must look like this to God, sometimes. How I kick and scream unfairness about the pain, I fight Him and fight the hurt, and yet I know that He is the one who can bring some relief. He is the parent who looks at me through the tears He cries on my behalf and He whispers in my ear that everything will be ok.
So I give thanks. And I find it a little easier to trust. To see even more to be thankful for.
And after those nine hours of heartbreak, my little girl breathes softly and sleeps, exhausted by the pain, but sleeping peacefully at last.
In the morning, upon waking, she smiles. And I have another thing to be thankful for.