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May 3, 2008

I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done…
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing…(Psalm 143, NLT).

Last night my daughter Hannajean proudly showed Hugh and me ten different words that she can read.

“Does this word say…jig?” she would giggle, pride etched on every inch of her five-year-old face.

“Cat? Ran? Was?”

Her straight blond hair fell in her eyes as she lay on the floor of our hotel room and looked for more words to read.

I want to freeze these moments with her. She is already becoming a little woman, admiring my new purse and asking to try on make-up. When a boy at preschool offered her a picture he drew of her, she kindly refused, saying, “I already have a picture.” Hannajean somehow knows instinctively not to accept his gifts too easily. She must be won, even at five.

When I look at my daughter – beautiful and full of energy and love, I feel just the smallest tinge of sadness. What was she like as a baby, I wonder?

I don’t remember.

When Hannajean was born, I was in the middle of the most difficult time of my life. Chaos reigned completely in my life and my family. Hannajean, being an easy, delightful baby, was easy to take care of. I did take care of her – but I didn’t do much else for my baby. I was too busy trying to figure out how to take care of my mother instead.

A few years later, when I realized that I have no memories of Hannajean’s first year, I felt pain physically rip through my body. “Oh, God!” I screamed to the Lord one morning, “No! No, no, no, no. I can’t remember. Everything was about my mom and her illness and taking care of my brother and figuring out how to survive…Oh, God. No.”

This was failure of the deepest kind. Not the “oops, too busy again… overspent a little again… swore again…” kind of sins that make up my daily confessions now – those feel small and easy to ask forgiveness for. This failure was something deeper and darker – and something I can’t get back again.

I have struggled for a long time to forgive myself. How can I let God into this kind of pain? This failure that is wholly mine and mine alone? How do I forgive myself?

Learning to forgive myself was a hard journey, but I slowly realized that it was possible because of the precious love of my Jesus.

I began to daily throw myself at the feet of Jesus, and I offered Him every bit of the pain. I told Him how sorry I was. I yelled and I cried and I asked Him to rewind the years. I gave Him every bit of guilt.

As I did, I started to realize that I no one else but Jesus understands how sad I am. No one else can grieve with me about my sin like Jesus. And no one can heal my heart like Jesus.

In that process of emptying out my heart to Him, the healing began. I started to have hope for my future with my daughter. I started to give myself grace for what happened. I began to look to the future and focus on the years I had left – to influence, mother, and lead my little girl.

But to do that, I had to stay right next to Jesus. He had to show me each step to take. “Walk here, Jess.” He would say. “Now this way. A little bit more. Stop for a second. Now here. To the left. To the right. That’s it, girl. C’mon, you’re doing it.”

Now when Hannajean shows me her newest word, I laugh and grin madly. I take in the moment all the way. I see – really see – my daughter. I notice how much she tries to sound out the letters. I spend time looking at the design she has made with all the word cards.

I am, perhaps, a better mother because of what happened. If I had never known the pain of being an emotionally absent parent, I would not drink in these moments as much – laugh as hard – love as deeply.

That, after all, is the redemption of my Savior. He does restore the years the locusts have stolen (Joel 2:25).

He restores and redeems so completely – and now, on the other side, I can joyfully say:

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.
Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30: 1-5).”

Your joy is enough for me, God. Your mercy overwhelms my heart. How can I begin to understand your forgiveness, Lord? It is more than I can ever comprehend. I delight in you, Lord. I am so grateful for your redemption and your hope. I love you, Jesus. In your name, Amen.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2008 4:29 pm

    I love that the time can be redeemed, for we all have to wake up sometimes and remember that we have children who need us, and whom we need very much as well.

  2. May 3, 2008 7:21 pm

    Beautiful as always, sweet friend.
    Those memories ARE in your head, supposedly. You just can’t access them. I’m going to pray that God brings some memories back for you. 🙂

    I love that you are seeing such blessings come from your own painful experiences. Love you!

  3. May 3, 2008 9:23 pm

    i will be praying also for memories to come back for you.
    thank you for the reminder to love deeply and drink in the moments…i’m in the season of life (w/ my 2 being almost 2 and 6 mths) that some days get blurry because i’m going thru anger issues towards men in my life…and take it out on my husband…and hurt him again and again….all because i’m trying to figure out how to heal. and then my 2 yr old boy is going thru strong willedness like all get out…and i forget to be patient and yell instead. i want to love deeply and not get oppressed….but i feel like the vicious circle keeps going and going. will you keep me in yer prayes jess? thank you for sharing your heart time and time again…you are such a blessing.

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