I found an invisible safety fence the other day
while standing at the kitchen sink.
The house was unusually still as I quietly scrubbed dishes.
I found myself thinking about each one of our children
and what they are currently doing, how they are, etc
and then there it was.
I bumped right into it and it jolted me like a
low voltage electric wire.
I felt a familiar cocktail of emotion
that I have noticed a few times before:
excitement, hope, high anticipation and yet, playing it safe.
Some fences are intentional.
For an example, our backyard fence.
We let our dogs out the back door and the planks of cedar wood
serve their purpose.
The dogs run and play and bark and chase bunnies and birds
and occasionally a neighbor brings his dog through
and we have dog races with our dogs inside the fence
and the neighbor dog running along the outside.
The fence keeps things in and keeps things out.
The first time I noticed this emotional self protection
I was about to have a baby.
The nurses rushed into the delivery room
wheeling large sealed containers and an incubator.
In a fury they ripped open the plastic and sat the sanitized necessities in their place and suddenly
I could not breath.
For the first time in my life, my breath
was literally taken away by emotion.
I was gasping for air but overcome by
excitement, hope and anticipation, no longer playing it safe.
I was going to have a baby.
I knew I was going to have a baby for about 8 months
but I had played it safe.
I miscarried at 4 months along a few years before
when our oldest was 2 years old
and after trying for another and being so disappointed
month after month after month, I gave up.
I chose to be content with 1 child.
I chose to be grateful for whatever God had planned
and I let go.
Several weeks later while volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center
I decided to take a test after my shift was over.
I walked down a long beautiful hallway
framed in soft sunlit french windows in careful hope
that I may expecting.
A few minutes later it was +
and my mind suddenly became a swirl of numbing emotion
as I walked back through the hallway.
But I self protected. Played it safe.
I didn't want to feel such sorrow and grief again.
"What if I lost this baby, too?"
"Will I be able to carry this child to term?"
And thousands of other thoughts and questions
railed my mind for the months that followed.
I waited and waited and did not let myself feel.
I had no idea how shut down I was
until I hit the invisible fence when it became real.
It's a girl!
Years later that round, healthy, baby was a beautiful, tenacious, adventurous, athletic 13 year old
running in her first cross country meet.
I stood along the dirt path to cheer her on.
I chose a spot over a hill, by a fence.
She didn't love running and was way to kind to want to outrun others and make them feel bad
so she ran in the back of the pack to cheer them on.
I waited and waited.
Lots of runners went by and still no daughter.
I began to wonder if she stepped in a hole and twisted her ankle?
As I looked around waiting to cheer her on
I noticed people began to leave.
O.K. Now I'm a little more than worried.
Where is she? The sun is setting and it will be dark soon.
Oh wait! Here comes another group!
You can tell by the dust cloud over the hill.
I peered into the cluster of runners to find my daughter.
I don't see her. She's not with them?
A few more minutes go by.
I started to feel valid concern...
and then in a distance I could see a few dots.
As they drew closer and came up over the last hill
I could see her! I recognized her by her clothing!
She was running alone...
I was so proud of her.
She had 2 runners following her. The last 2 of the race.
She got closer and closer and at last, here she was
so finally with all the compressed,
sheer parental enthusiasm saved for this moment,
I opened my mouth to shout for her and...
nothing but gasps for air.
I could not breathe.
I could not make a sound.
She ran by, eyes focused straight ahead.
She didn't even see me.
But I was there, right by that fence.
And more dishes to wash.
Scrub. Rinse. Repeat.
My mind was thinking about one of our children in particular
and a situation that they were in a few years ago.
It was hard.
Very, very difficult for everyone.
And at minimum, it was a test.
A huge test.
And I thought about what is happening
in that child's life today in contrast
to those days and I was overwhelmed.
"Really? Really, Lord?
It's just so... beautiful. So healthy.
So right. Really Lord? Could it be?"
And I felt another safety fence that I had built around
my thoughts and emotions.
I'm not sure that any of us will ever perfect 'fence removal'
and have a completely fence and pothole free terrain
but for now I will just keep on walking, running or even crawling
trusting the One who knows the course that I am on.
I think I'll keep the excitement, hope and anticipation
while I toss the 'play it safe.'
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.