One of my best seventy year old friends sang that song in church on Sunday. I don’t know what it’s called, but that line stuck out to me…”Child of Promise, Child of Pain, I remember you. Remember me.”
Part of our story, the part I haven’t shared, is that we struggled with infertility for years before we finally got pregnant with Haley. Countless tears, prayers and petitions went up to the Lord, begging Him to bless us with a child. When we finally did have a positive pregnancy test, we went to our first ultrasound only to be told by our doctor that there was no baby. Only an egg sack. And these things happen sometimes. Come back next week and we’ll do another ultrasound, “just to be sure” and then do a DNC to clean it out. No baby. An Egg Sack. And I held in my hand the first ultrasound picture with the empty, round bubble instead of a tiny beating heart.
The next week we went back for our “confirmation” ultrasound. The doctor looked. The nurse looked. Then he said, “Well, I don’t know when you got pregnant, because there is the heartbeat!” I said, “God knows when I got pregnant, Doctor!” What had been an empty sack was our precious Haley. Alive and well.
Fast forward through the next 6 years of bliss. Happy child. Sweet child. Gentle child. Smart child. Then one day, PANDAS disease took her away from us. Changed her into a child I didn’t recognize.
Suddenly our child of promise was broken, and in pain, and I was angry. How could God do this to our baby? Didn’t we pray for our baby from before she was born? Doesn’t that make her…extra special, somehow, than all the rest of the kids out there? (No offense to the rest of ya’all. I’m sure your kids are great too.)
I couldn’t see WHY God would put her through this pain. Why would He would put our family through this pain? A Godly friend of mine who had been through hell with her child told me I should put her on the Alter and give her to God. It just ticked me off. I didn’t WANT to give her to God. He gave her to ME!!! Wasn’t that was this was all about? My baby? Mine? If I can be perfectly honest, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let her go and let these demons of PANDAS take over her mind, her life, everything that made her who she was. So I fought. I wish I could say that I had the faith of Abraham. Abraham, who prayed for a child for years, and was given his son, his Child of Promise, Isaac, for 13 years of bliss, and then…God asked him to give him up. Put him on the alter and give him to God as a sacrifice. And he did it. Took his donkey, his son, and the wood, and went up the mountain to give his son to God.
Of course, God stopped him, just in the nick of time. And Isaac was saved.
“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
But here’s the thing. Maybe we don’t have the courage to put our child on the alter. But we still struggle up the mountain. Sometimes our kid doesn’t go willingly with us. In fact, they look at us with fear and hatred and rage and fight us every step of the way. All the while, we’re leading them to the mountaintop, and praying we’ll have the courage to take the next step, and begging and pleading all the while that God will INTERVENE and save our baby from this, a life plagued by fear and rage and the demon of PANDAS.
And then He does. He steps down and stops the madness. Sometimes the storm stops in an instant, like Jesus saying a word and the sea becoming a sheet of glass. Sometimes it slowly dissipates, like a fog lifting, the tide going out. And you’re left standing on the mountaintop, with your baby, whole and well and at peace, and she is a gift and a promise all over again. The haunted eyes are full of light. The fear filled soul is full of joy. The empty egg sack is a beating heart.
Don’t give up, sweet sister. Keep climbing the mountain with your child. Don’t think about the alter of PANDAS. Think about the next step. The next thing God gives you to tackle, together, with your child.
Abraham helped his son up the mountain. His Father held his hand.
Jesus carried his cross up the hill. His Father held his heart.
Momma’s, keep carrying your baby through this battle. Your Father is leading you on.
Bless you, Momma warriors. (And you Dad’s too. You know who you are.)
ATTENTION PLEASE: If you are reading this in a second, or third language, or fourth language…. Do NOT sacrifice your child. That is NOT what I’m saying. It’s a parable. Or alliteration. Or something like that. I’m telling you to keep fighting for your child. That’s the gist of it. And if you ARE at your wits end, and there is any thought of harming your child, or yourself. Please, get help. You are not alone. This is hard stuff. Just don’t give up. The sun may come out tomorrow. Or the next day.
Jesus, please take these confused and jumbled words and make them make sense to someone who needs them!
Amen. And Amen.