My blog-world turned real-life friend, Angie, is down from Alaska right now at Seattle Children's hospital. Her five-year-old daughter, Natalie just had her Fontan Thursday morning. The girl is doing the really, really hard work of recovery and praise God, already moving to the floor later today.
Having gone through two open-heart surgeries with our son, I have an idea of what Angie and her family is going through right now. More of an idea than a lot of people.
But I can't know know.
It wasn't until after Luke's two surgeries in his first year that I entered bloggy land and started meeting moms and dads around the country who could relate to the emotions and fears I felt. Then I joined Mended Little Hearts and met even more moms and dads who got it. We connected on that "I get it" level. They knew what it was like to battle to get your kid to gain ounces. To be in the hospital day after day and just want to steal your baby out of there. We smiled at each other when we pulled out the Purell bottle at the same time.
Yes, they could relate. But even they couldn't know know.
I struggled with this for a long time. Feeling alone because no one "got it". Feeling resentful that even if I shared until I was blue in the face, my friends couldn't fully understand. I wanted them to and even, for a while, pulled back from friendships because they just couldn't. And I have wonderful friends. Friends who called and texted and brought meals and prayed and visited.
It took me coming up from air after Luke's intense first year and a half for God to get through to me with this most valuable, precious lesson. One that I cling to when those feelings of frustration bubble up
"I have not missed one moment."
When the thoughts roll in, "She has no idea", "He can't even imagine", God whispers, "I know."
There's actually a name for God in the Bible that portrays this aspect of His character. We often hear the term "omniscient" used to characterize God, which is true and good, but that word can make God seem far away, watching over everything and everyone from a distance.
That's why I've fallen in love with the name used by Hagar, in the midst of her despair as she runs away from Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 16:13. El Roi, the God who sees me.
Connecting with other heart families has been a tremendous gift in my life. The conversations are rich and encouraging. But if I am dependent on people to meet the need to be seen and know, I am going to be sorely disappointed. I can encourage Angie today as she sits with her daughter in the hospital. I can pray for her and Natalie and someday, I am going to be in her place, with Luke in the CICU. But I can't know every thought and emotion she's feeling or see every tear that falls.
What I pray most for her and me and all my heart family friends is that in those dark times of anguish, that we would fall into the truth that God is right there, never slumbering or looking away. How that's possible I have no idea, but I trust it. And I need it. We all have a God-given need to be known. God wouldn't give us that desire if He couldn't fill it.
Luke's neighbor friend asked me the other day why Luke sometimes wanted a piggy-back up our huge neighborhood hill. Luke is so typical in so many ways, he hadn't even remembered about Luke's heart defect. In traditional fashion, my first emotion was sadness that Luke is different and that even my neighbors have no clue as to the severity of his defect and history.
This blog post had been spinning around my brain for a while now, and God used it to bring me back to what's true. His knowing is enough.