Time passes. Struggles returned. I fight battles I thought were long over and done.
In Haiti, little ones were dumped in my arms— “Take them,” they would say, “we have lots of babies. You need one.” And my heart would clench as I snuggled them close and kissed dirty soft skin and shook my head. I handed them back to mamas and aunts and grandmothers. And the battle raged.
Then we were home and I sighed in relief. But it is here too. Staring me in the face. And I’m taking shaking breaths and pushing away burning tears. A friend is there, wrapping her arms around me and I know that God is hearing me and I know it will be okay.
But God, I don’t want to even fight this battle!
I don’t ever want to mourn someone’s joy. Ever.
My journal is filled with scratched out words, the pencil pressed hard—
Please, Jesus, please– Do not make me drink this bitterness!
I’m not asking for you to take away my pain-
If this emptiness is mine to carry, I will…
But please, I beg, I cry, I ask with everything in me—
Take this bitter cup and make it sweet.
Then I hear the song that’s been running through my mind for weeks now. I thought it was just a pretty song that I liked. I had no idea it was a glimpse of God in me.
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Because when evening came and chores were done we drove the few miles to my brother’s home and the moment I walked through the door, they were calling to me. My little ones. The babies that my brothers and their wives have shared so graciously. The ones they let me hold and cry over.
“Auntie Tashe,” the tiny blond one squealed, “snuggle with me!” And she pats the couch beside her and I sit with her and she chatters endlessly and I close my eyes and bitterness sweetens.
Then they are all around me. Big and little. Touching. Three on my lap. Squealing. Running fingers through the tiny braids in my hair. They’re snuggling and kisses are raining down and God’s voice flows over me:
“You may not bear the children you desire
But I will never leave you empty and in pain.
Then the blue-eyed twin is touching my face, both hands on my cheeks and my eyes meet hers. “You know, Tashe, you must know—that I’ll always be your Zell-Belle-Ella, no matter how big I get.”
And the cup doesn’t taste so bitter anymore.
Here I raise my Ebenezer the song says.
Then Samuel took a stone
and set it between Mizpah and Shen,
and he called the name of it
Ebenezer [stone of help],
saying, Heretofore the
Lord has helped us.
I Samuel 7:12AMP
My Ebenezer. My stone of help. My God who hears me.
Who sent three beautiful little girls to soothe my aching heart.
The God who takes my bitterness and makes it sweet.
And sometimes battles come and come and come but never are we left to fight alone.