the but

I’m doing something a little differently this week, so bear with me, will you?

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If you’re thinking about running a race in July with bangs in your face, don’t do that thing. (Here to help.)

A month or so after I had the miscarriage, I needed to take back some control. I had been a distance runner prior to that pregnancy, and although I had read countless studies calling running in pregnancy “safe,” I had “played it extra safe” last time and totally abstained. Of course, that didn’t matter, in the end. Anyway, I decided to start training for a half marathon. I started running through my depression, looking for peace, looking for strength. I found at least a small amount of both. After I finished my 12 mile run, the longest run before the big race, I had a funny feeling. Not a bad feeling, just a funny feeling. This feeling would be explained a few days later when a pregnancy test gave me a surprise: pregnant.

I panicked.

I’d been running! So much! I had a race in two weeks! I called my OB office immediately, and in a rush of words and breath, said something like “I had a miscarriage three months ago and I’m pregnant again and I run a lot and I have a half marathon and WHAT DO I DO?!” The poor phone nurse must have taken pity on me, because I received a call from my OB a couple of hours later. I don’t remember the conversation word for word, but I remember this:

“Jennie. You didn’t cause the miscarriage before. Running this race or not won’t cause another now. I don’t mean to be blunt, but — if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and you can’t really help it.”

These words joined words from my mom, who read to me from the Bible, from the third chapter of Daniel, the night before the race I had ultimately decided to run. This chapter tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Jewish men who stood by their faith and refused to worship the Idol King Nebuchadnezzar created. Despite his official command that everyone worship this idol, the three men refused, and were sentenced to be burned alive in a fire. Upon hearing this, they replied:

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.
Daniel 3:17,18

But even if he does not – this became my mantra while I ran that race two and a half years ago. We pray for answers, we pray for miracles, not because God will fix everything, but because we believe He can. But even if He does not – we are still protected in other ways, we are still loved.

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Hello, tiny running buddy. You slowed me down, but it’s OK.

Ev was the tiny jumble of cells that ran with me during that half marathon. He remained safe that day, and everyday that has followed. And since that time, “but if not” has becoming my parental rallying cry. I cannot control every aspect of my children’s lives. I pray daily and nightly for their safety, but I simply cannot predict the future. Despite my best efforts, I can’t know if they will one day be the subject of a national news article with the word “tragedy” in the title. I pray they won’t, but we know that we live in a world where this happens to the children of some. I have complete faith that God can protect my children from all harm, and I know I will always protect them to the best of my ability, but, ultimately, “if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, and you can’t really help it.”

This is, of course, a broad generalization, but in parenting? I kind of like it. If you are a parent who struggles with anxiety, hear this: do your best. Trust God. Realize you aren’t in control. Realize sometimes bad things happen.

Sometimes they are miscarriages or broken bones, sometimes they are hurt feelings or overwhelming stress. Sometimes they are mornings you wake up late, pray “please God, let us get to the bus stop on time!” and you don’t get to the bus stop on time, but it isn’t because God couldn’t slow time for you. He chose not to; maybe you needed a few extra minutes in the car with your kiddo that day.

Mamas, I pray for you. I want to pray prayers that simply state “keep ____ and her family from all harm,” BUT… I don’t. I pray God will keep you strong in faith no matter what fires come your way. If you could pray the same for me, I’d appreciate it.

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