I was asked to pray for this family. Laura and Caleb had two lively, healthy sons and had just given birth to a long-awaited daughter. Can you imagine the joy when they learnt they were having a girl!
But as this little girl entered the world they discovered that she had a rare genetic disease and was born with a brain stem but no brain and no pituitary glands. Her life would be a short one.
They wrapped their little girl in a bunny rug and took her home to love her with everything in them, for as long as they had with her. They set about making a list of all the things they wanted to share with her. The list went like this:
- Fishing with the boys (can’t you hear the boys saying let’s take her fishing!)
- Family photos
- Visit to the park
- Love and laughter
- Lots of cuddles
- Sponge baths
- Layout with mum
- Visit the zoo
They embraced every moment they had with their daughter in the few short weeks of her life, managing to enjoy together everything on the list, and more. She became an indelible part of the family. She has her place in the family photo album and they created memories with her that will stay with them forever.
C S Lewis says it best in his book, The Four Loves,
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."
Love and pain are intrinsically linked together. The plant that’s pruned the hardest will bloom the most prolifically. Yet we avoid pain at all costs. That’s human nature – who wants to hurt? We exert enormous energies to side step pain and often our prayers are the greatest evidence of that. Rather than praying for my pain to be removed, I need to pray for the courage and strength to conquer it and grow through it; to allow pain to shape me into love.
That’s what touched me most deeply about this young couple who allowed themselves to be vulnerable and endure the pain for the love that was to be found in the midst of it; to give themselves away in love despite the pain.