"Mommy, I'm going to be the BEST big sister." She said these words, out of the blue, as we were driving one day and the road ahead instantly became blurry because of the tears that filled my eyes. "Yes, sweetheart. Yes, you will be," being the words I could force out with decent control.
And I believe those words with every piece of my heart. This tender, brave, strong, beautiful little soul that made me a mommy will be the BEST big sister a baby could know, if the Lord chooses that. That "if" is the hard part; the piece that makes these conversations we have with AK some of the most painful we've faced these past 3.5 years. These are the conversations where my heart sinks to its deepest and the tears flow the heaviest, because if I could, I would move heaven and earth to make that big sister dream a reality for her.
When we wander through the baby section at Gap or Target to buy a gift and she says, "We should get one of these for our baby!" When I watch her sit in awe as I hold a friend's newborn baby and she gently strokes baby's head or tiny hands. When she pretends she's playing with her "little brother and sister." When she asks me, "When can we have a baby, Mommy?" When those imploring blue eyes search my face for answers. When she asks if I have a baby in my tummy, too, and I have to say "no" and her little eager clasped hands drop to her side. Whenever I see the painful side of our reality right now touch her heart in really tender ways, that is when I especially wish that I could tap into some secret formula that makes all the pain go away and place in her hands a snuggly pink or blue bundle that's all her own.
But as much as my mothering instincts want to put up a 10 foot high fence and hire some Jedi-like warrior to guard and protect her from any sort of pain or sorrow, I know that isn't actually the best thing for her. She's been given to me, to us, to train and teach, to mold and guide, and one of the hardest parts of that is letting her come face to face with the truth that "all is not right in the world." We have to let her see the tears run down. We have to say the actual words. Obviously, in a way that is right and good for her 5 year old heart and mind to digest, but we still have to look into those imploring eyes, pull her on our laps, hold her dimpled hands, and say, "we don't know."
As hard as it was the first time to explain to her the little pieces of "why" that we can and as much as the gut-wrenching feeling never goes away when we have to explain it again, those moments sit apart in my mind because those are moments where we get to plant little seeds of glorious truth. We don't have to leave it at, "we don't know", kiss her forehead, and set her down with a despairing heart. We get to add, "but He knows and He's going to right this world one day," kiss her forehead, and set her down with a hopeful heart. We get to use this longing that all of us have, a longing that aches until we feel our hearts might break in two, to teach her about the character of our sweet Savior, His perfect love, His gentle presence, and the beauty that He spreads across even the hardest pages of suffering. We get to tell her about what we've learned, about what we are still learning. We get to be real with her about the struggles we face and tell her about how the Lord has met us there and refueled our hearts and minds with all the truths of Scripture He's planted there. Goodness gracious, we get to tell her about HER, the most beautiful answer to longings and prayers that He allowed to be placed in our arms 5.5 years ago. We get to say, "look in the mirror. you are one of the best, dearest pieces of God's grace." We get to tell her about hope, hope that does not disappoint, that will bring complete satisfaction and fullness of joy when Jesus is our Savior.
We have been given the sweetest task to guide this little one, to take her hand and not just walk ahead of her a step or two, but let her walk right alongside us, being real about how much the pain hurts, yet pointing her to the One who gives us a multitude of reasons to smile and laugh and find beauty among the ashes. Most of all and more than anything, we pray that she knows Him as that good good Father. So, we must let pages of her story be marked up by our present reality, the hard and the beautiful, entrust those to His wise hands, and watch to see all the ways He chooses to use them.
"You know, Little, like we always talk about, we can stop and pray to God anytime about how we want to have a baby," J told her at dinner a couple nights ago. "Yeah! Why don't we pray right now?" That was her reply, with the biggest smile spread across her face.