Spending 3 and a 1/2 hours in a waiting room welcomes small conversations. I spotted her right away. She had beautiful dark skin and masses of black hair forming in small curls at the base of her skull. She also had a surgical patch over her eye. My heart went out to her, and to her mother. We struck up a conversation. Our girls were alike in more ways than one. Born only days apart and both with congenital glaucoma, and both with more surgeries under their belt than seems fair. I usually love these conversations. It is in these moments I feel like I connect with someone who understands.
She started to speak, and I breathed in her fear. “I hate making her fast for hours before her surgery. It goes against everything in me to deny her food.” “I know.” I managed to rasp out. “I worry constantly about how much she can endure going under anesethia. I wonder if it will affect her somehow.” she continued.
“I want to be her protector.” She confessed with tears welling in her eyes. “I wish I could protect her from this. The pain, the surgery, the screams, I wish I could take it.”
“I know.” I wanted to squeeze her hand. I wanted to encourage her. I wanted to tell her about my Savior. But I found myself drowning in a sea of my own grief. Every word she spoke created great fissures in my emotional facade, reaching the most painful places of my heart. I wanted to tell her that I never, ever cry when I send her back for surgery, nor do I ever allow myself to break in the waiting room, but I have cried a thousand tears in my heart. I wanted to tell her I don’t know if I can make it through one more emergency, one more surgery again. I wanted to tell her that I can’t remember what it feels like to even laugh anymore without the shadows of worry and fear lurking. I wanted to tell her that if I live to be one hundred I’m not sure the pain will ever go away. But to my shame, all I could manage was, “I know.”
The memories the conversation stirred up overshadowed all of my optimism over her good exam. I wanted to escape the grip of sadness the conversation had created. And then He reminded me. It is one of my favorite verses. I have loved it for so long, but only now begun to understand it.
“That I may KNOW HIM and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” Phil. 3:10
I have begged the Lord to let me know Him, all of Him, with all of me. And He has brought me into the fellowship. We cannot truly know Him without knowing suffering. All of the pain, all of the agony, every last part of it, is answering that long spoken desire, I have been given a gift wrapped as an unlikely package. It is not glorious, it is not beautiful, and it is not desired, but it brings me to my knees, and that, THAT is a beautiful place to be. It is on this sacred ground that the work in my stubborn, hard heart begins. The ugliness and all that I deemed undesirable suddenly is enraptured in HIS beauty, and becomes a place to be coveted, a place I have come to long for. With this King Who has become Father, beauty comes from ashes, even from such a one as I. This is His fertile ground, He specializes in suffering. He specializes in me.
And friends, knowing Him, is the pathway to joy. He turns mourning to dancing. He takes away the ugly and replaces it with beauty. Knowing Him is not only worth it all, it is my all.