Posts Tagged ‘love’

I had another night shift on the labour ward on Friday night, and it was quite surreal. I assisted with a c-section on a mum-to-be who had laboured for 24 hours, saw a ‘normal’ delivery with another couple, and then spent six hours with a couple as they progressed from early labour, to prolonged labour, to a terrifying emergency situation where, as the midwife ran to get the medical team, I was left holding the hand of this mother, hoping and praying that her baby would make it through. After a lot of intervention, her baby was born, and there was a horrible, silent fifteen seconds or so where he didn’t cry, and just lay there, blue and still. From now on, hearing a baby cry means so much more to me. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked God quite so much. It shook me up a bit, to be honest.

In the gap between the two, I went up to the post-natal ward to check in on some of the mums and babies I’ve helped with earlier in the week. One of the midwives asked me to feed a baby for her, so I had an hour or so with a total cutie in my arms, just the two of us, together. His mother is a methadone and heroin user, (and he will be taken into care) so this little lad was born premature and with all the extra problems of being dependant on drugs. He was so small, just over five pounds, his feet dwarfed by the feet of his orange baby-grow that just highlighted his jaundice all the more. He lay against me and snuggled in, suckled on a syringe full of ‘first feed’ and then fell asleep gripping my finger in both tiny hands. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so protective of something. When you are holding a baby, you are holding something more valuable than the greatest of riches. When you are holding a baby, you are letting them know that they are not alone, that someone’s heart is beating right there, close to theirs. This little man has a tough life ahead of him; from the day of his birth, the odds are already stacked against him. He lay against me sleeping, not knowing the adversity he will be up against, but I do hope that somehow, someday, he might know that for that hour we spent together, someone loved him from the moment they saw him. I hope he knows, if and when things get hard, that there are people around him who will pitch in and help him over the hurdles. It’s things like this that I so want to change – I want all children to be born with an equal footing, I want them to grow up nurtured and wanted and treasured, I want them to have someone there when they fall, and cry, and ache. I think I need to be some form paediatrician, in all honestly, or heavily involved in child welfare some other way!

Psalm 139 is one of my, and most other Christians, favourites. I thought of it last night as I held him, about how God has known us since we were babes in the womb, how he is with us, alongside us, every step of the way. He knew me, and you, when we had little hair on our heads, the smallest of fingernails, and eyes that couldn’t help but stare at the strange world around us. He knew what we would grow to be, and what we would struggle with. He knew where we would cross paths with each other, and fall away. I thought about how small we are compared to God, how defenseless and uncertain.I thought of the Israelites depending on God each day for Manna, as babies depend on their mothers for milk. I thought about how this little lad slept, not knowing that it would have taken little persuasion for me to actually carry him off home (don’t worry, I really will not ever turn to kidnapping, no matter how tempting), how he nestled against me, not knowing that for that hour, I could feel myself loving him, could see myself forgiving him anything, could imagine putting myself inbetween him and anything the world could throw at us. Our hearts were there, beating against each other.  So many of us are like this with God in that we don’t know, or accept, or remember his love. He loves us as children of his own, which is probably a lot more strongly than the love  a young medical student has for a baby in the middle of the night on a quiet hospital ward. He loves us, from our first and weakest breaths, through the growing pains and rebellions, the dirt and the dust. Near or far from him, he loves us. His heart beats with ours, it beats for ours. Loving – so easy sometimes, isn’t it? Yet when we find it hard to love, it is so hard to change that feeling. If only all loving were easy.

I see L again (counsellor) tomorrow and have thought of it a lot today. I decided to write something and read it, to try and get over the fact that once I get inside that room, words just seem to fail me a lot of the time. I’ve never written something with a view for a particular person to read it, with the exception of letters to over-seas friends, and this is different. I’ve certainly never read anything I’ve written aloud. When I write, the words just seem to flow in a way they never will verbally. I am, as usual, anxious about going. Sometimes, I feel like God is revealing things I need to learn so frequently – he puts all these people in my way, he gives me babies to hold that remind me of Psalms and homeless men to feed who remind me of Hebrews – but sometimes I wonder if I’m acting on all of these things, or just thinking on them. I want to be an actions-not-just-words person. I want to be a faith-by-example person. It’s difficult to live up to expectations, sometimes. I know that, no matter how hard it feels, that He must be in this whole counselling thing too, and that there are probably a lot of messages from Him I’m ignoring by choice. I want to get through this, but learning, as always, is hard.

I’ve been blogging about a month now, and am so glad I took the plunge and started. Some of the comments I’ve had have really built me up, and it’s been so good to stumble across people who have walked a similar path to mine, and come through. The world feels smaller, somehow. I feel really blessed. I hope that if you’ve been reading this a while, that you’re getting something from it, because knowing that you’ve stopped by, is such a gift to me. Love, Char48.

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I assisted on a Caesarian section yesterday (a gorgeous, if big, baby boy –  prayers for Baby H and family, please!) and it got me thinking again about what it means to be a proverbial child of God. When I am lucky enough to get a hold of a new-born, there’s something in me that doesn’t want to let them go, ever, something that wants to keep watch over them forever, defend them from transgressors, provide for them, and dry every tear they come to shed. Five minutes with a baby, and I am ready to take down any form of threat they come up against. (nb, if I am like this at 23, it’s going to be a complete nightmare by the time I’m 30….men, you have been warned).

When we are born, unlike so many of the earth’s animals, we are completely dependant on our carers. We are not like foals, which are able to stand and run minutes after birth. We are not like baby turtles, which strike out alone once they’re hatched. We rely on those around us to give shelter, food, and love. We depend on something far beyond our current understanding. We are born unable to see clearly, hear clearly, and even sit up. We live those initial months and years, blind.

I think God made us like that for a reason – he created us to depend. He created us to need so desperately, that person who cares for us in the early days and years. Depending on God should come easy, then, surely, if reliance is something we have literally practised since birth? And yet, it is not easy, it seems to come at so high a price, when really, it’s the giving up of that dependance that costs us so deeply as it draws us away from Jesus. As we grow and gain understanding, we lose that ability to just, simply, lean. We lose the sense of urgency that comes from knowing that alone, we cannot, will never, get through. We try to do it on our own. Jesus, when He came, didn’t appear suddenly, with a PhD and an impressive CV. He didn’t have a loan from the bank for his first house, or a credit card. He wasn’t able to whip up a quick curry, or iron his…..loincloths? Shirts? Robes? Anyway –  He came as we do, as a baby, tiny, naked, dwarfed by the world around him, desperately vulnerable. The Son of God, of Man, was vulnerable. Only his parents’ watchful eye prevented him falling out of that manger and under the hooves of the oxen. When they had to flee Bethlehem, Jesus was carried off in the arms of his mother. He came in a state of dependancy, as we do too, but unlike us, he never stopped depending on God. He never lost that sense of being a cherished and protected child, except in his final moments on the Cross, when he gave it all up for us.  The way I feel when I hold these babies, or care for the people with learning disabilities I work with, that feeling of being bound by a hot rope of love to another person, a rope that does not fray and will not give way, is such a fraction of how God feels towards us.  I can’t imagine it.

If you’re a bit geeky like I am, you may have read Flatlands, a sort of mathematical allegory on perspective. To summarise it, it’s set in a land inhabited by 2D shapes. One of them finds an opening to a new land, inhabited by cubes, and spheres and pyramids. When he reports back, none of the other shapes believe him – they can’t get their heads around this concept of people living a life so high above theirs. They can’t grasp volume. I was thinking earlier that just as babies and small children don’t really know what their parent feels towards them, we are also a bit uncertain about just how strong God’s love is towards us – sort of as though His love belongs to another dimension to ours, 4D to our 3D (and by extension, the 2D of small children), and we just cannot in our simplicity grasp the concept of this whole new way of thinking and feeling. God’s volume of loving exceeds our perimetered understanding. Our love is linear; God’s is dodecahedronal, or more. It transcends time and space. It does not quite fit into the spatial categories of our world. I think it was CS Lewis who wrote at length about how we classify God more on what He is not, than what He is – because, we know He is not mortal, not limited, not constricted, not bound – but finding the words that express how He extends beyond every perimeter of understanding is difficult. I am, that I am, and that is beyond you.

Remembering God’s love is something I struggle with; sometimes, I wonder if His love actually matters, as long as I am willing to serve and follow – and sometimes, the way ahead feels so very empty, that the only conclusion I can reach is one of utter abandonment. Sometimes, I feel so greatly flawed, so overcome with struggling, that I just can’t see why God, or anyone for that matter, would love me anyway. I mess up, say the wrong thing, get myself into impressively close corners, forget to pray, forget to tithe, forget to thank God for each breath He gives me. Churches are often so full of people being incredibly ‘holy’ on the outside that it sends the uncertain out with their tails between their legs – how can God love me, if I am so very inferior, the perpetually disappointing runt of the litter? How can God care for one so weak at times in faith, when there are others raising the roof with their praises and evangelising left, right and centre? Depression distorts my view of self and the world I live in until it’s so bleak that the line between living and dying starts to fade, and all I see is a fallen world, full of fallen people, with no prospects of regaining the ground they lost. Love, like the sun is always there, but so strongly  blotted out by the dark clouds that overwhelm us from time to time. When it’s pouring with rain, the sun seems like a distant memory. When depression takes hold, love seems like a story from another time.

Counselling (or, therapy, for the Americans) is making me see that a lot of the love I grew up with had so many conditions on it, and was so variable  – I love you, but I love drinking more, I love you, but I love shouting more, I once loved you, but then you lost it by trying to make this family sober. Realising this has been tough. In a perfect world, we would pattern how we love others, on how God loves us and how we accept that love – but in reality, so often the converse is true. I’m not so great at imagining a love without conditions, without limits. It’s 3D to my 2D, it’s a tetrahedron to my triangle. I’m learning, though, as always. As long as I have God’s love in my sights, I’ll get through. As long as I un-grow and re-learn to lean, I’ll get through. Childhood ends as we physically grow, but being a child of God is never-ending. It takes some time.

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