I sat in church that day trying to focus on the sermon, but my thoughts wandered. What was happening to my husband? Was he ok? I just wanted to hear something, anything at this point... three days with no word at all. Yesterday had come some word, some rumor about one of the men, but silence about my husband. That thought lingered in my head...why the silence?
I journal often, but since that phone call, I had not journaled at all. Maybe I was too afraid to actually write out my thoughts in black and white. Maybe my mind just wouldn't focus well enough to write. Loud stillness still echoed in my mind, blocking most continued thoughts. Thoughts would rise like bubbles in a muddy pond, breaking to the surface, but the depths of the pond were still hidden from sight.
But halfway through the sermon, I picked up my journal and my pen. Needing to step into some routines that would hold me through whatever was ahead of me.
What do you say right now? My heart cries out with every breath wanting them here. And my heart also quietly rests inside me hidden in the quiet place by God's heart. A painful stillness. A certain comfort, deep, real, in the middle of the deepest part of this pain.
Then I watch my kids and the knife twists. But our commitment as a family comes back. God who gave us these children knows what He has set in front of them. He is not surprised by events nor is He incapable of nor unconcerned about caring for the children in the middle of this. He sees their hearts and cares.
As we sat in our normal family place without my husband and their daddy and wondered if we will ever sit here with the six of us or if this is our new normal, my thoughts went back to the day we stood in front of our home church with a brand new baby girl in our arms and a pack of wild toddlers by our feet. Someone asked me then, "Tell me something that makes it ok for me to let you go with that brand new sweet baby and those boys I love." I looked one of my best friends in the eyes and told her, "When God called us to do this, He knew the future already. We did not get to this stage all ready to go, to have Him look down and say to myself, "Oops! They have kids! How did that happen?!" He knew from when He knit my children together what He has called them to face in this life, and He will care for us whatever that means."
When I remembered that, I relaxed. Even with the worst "what if" facing us, God is not surprised by today nor unable to meet us through our tomorrow. I opened to my favorite Psalm that has carried me through rough place before and read. It was a psalm God spoke to me with during another difficult time in my life. He has goodness stored up - not caught by surprise and unprepared, but stored up and ready for when we need it. Psalm 31 became the psalm I read over and over during the next few days.
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man;
You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD,
For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city.
I learned this by heart and clung to it. God has stored up goodness for this very thing, and He will make His lovingkindness marvelous to us - to us here and to them there... even a besieged city can not stop Him.
He had goodness stored up for us, and when we went running to Him, He had comfort ready and waiting for us all.
It didn't change what we were facing, but Sunday was when I saw God begin to step in with His comfort and care of us. When I was running out of energy, running out of ability to hang on and keep going, He wasn't. And He kept caring for me, a careful, detailed, personal care of me right through to the end.
I didn't want to leave church that morning. I sat with others drinking more sweet, milky tea. It was really the only thing I could put down my tummy that would not cause intense pain. My church formed a team to meet the crisis. I was thankful for their care. They set up people to manage caring for my family so I did not need to do that. They asked what I needed and what I did not need. They coordinated responses between the church and the school. It felt like someone had just lifted a load off my shoulders.
From this time on, my house was full of people. People who dropped everything to care for us. I had only two rules I asked them to respect. Don't touch my answering machine - my husband's voice in on there telling me he arrived somewhere safely, and I don't want it erased. The second was simple. Don't come in my room. It still smells like my husband in here, and I don't want people in there. If I go in my room and shut the door, leave me alone - don't even knock. I am a person who needs my time alone to deal with life. I also explained that I can't eat under stress, but promised to drink anything people gave me. People listened to those rules well - no one came near my bedroom other than to drop off another drink except for Monday morning when I frantically called my friend to come sit with me for the longest wait in the whole time.