Faith To Turn Eyes Red


Why can’t I have faith like my sons?

Last week my 4-year-old was hunched over in one of our living room corners. His back was to me and I was certain he was up to no good.

I kept asking him what he was doing but he wouldn’t tell me. I think I asked him three times before he finally confessed – He was praying that his eyes would turn red.

Not. What. I. Expected. I think I said something like, “Why on Earth would you want red eyes?”

He shrugged me off, looked over at his older brother and said, “Are they red yet?”

He said it with such conviction and confidence that I knew he truly believed his prayer would be answered. Quietly and carefully my 6-year-old studied his brother’s eyes for a minute then happily declared, “I think I can see some orange!”

They both have amazing faith. Sometimes I take their faith for granted.

Like a month ago when my oldest lost an electronic recorder outside somewhere in our yard. We noticed it was missing right when we were supposed to be heading out the door to a family night at the elementary school. Knowing it was going to rain that night and probably ruin the recorder, we swept the yard dozens of times looking for it.

We were late for the school party and I was having a serious I-can’t-find-something anxiety/panic attack. I grabbed my 6-year-old, held onto both of his shoulders and demanded that he use his faith to find the stupid recorder. I suggested that he pray to know where it was.

Keep in mind I know my son has enough faith to do miracles, but I shouldn’t have asked that of him. I felt like Mrs. Incredible asking her daughter, Violet, to put a force field around the airplane when being shot at over the ocean. She knew Violet could do it, but the timing wasn’t right.

Despite my son’s heartfelt pleas to his Maker, he didn’t find the recorder. And because of my stupid charge that he pray to know where it was, he went to bed doubting his faith.

The next day I found the tiny black audio recorder in our garage underneath his bicycle. A place we had searched dozens of times.

Faith is a funny thing.

To this day my 4-year-old still has green eyes and my 6-year-old didn’t find his recorder when he believed he would be swiftly led directly to it.

Sometimes we have faith, but what we really want isn’t meant to be. Sometimes the timing isn’t right.

Try telling that to one of your children. Try telling that to yourself.

Sometimes no matter how much you believe something will happen, it just isn’t going to. It isn’t God’s will.

Like the night I stayed up waiting for my baby boy to move inside my full-term pregnant belly. Call it shock, call it faith, call it wishful thinking, I thought for sure that if I believed hard enough that he would come back to life, he would.

But I am left only raising three of my four sons.

It seems like every year around this time I face doubts about my faith. Those doubts make me grouchy and moody and I get stuck in a funk.

It normally happens a few weeks before April 22 – my third son’s birthday and angel day. The day he flew back Home.

I have a strong testimony of my religion. But when I stop and think about my little baby boy, buried in a cemetery 5 miles from my home, the doubts start to fly and the “what ifs?” and “will I reallys?” arise.

What if I never see my son again?
What if this life is the end?
Will I really get to kiss his chubby cheeks again?
Will I really get to raise him?

These doubts start in the corner of my mind and creep down into my heart where they paralyze my faith.

It doesn’t help that Easter – a holiday built on religion, faith, and resurrection – lands just before my baby’s angelversary. Oh how I miss him.

But sometimes the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers. Sometimes he’s trying to teach us something. Sometimes – like in the case of the missing recorder – he’s trying to teach someone else – your mother – something. Like to not stress out when things go missing. They’ll come around eventually.

And luckily so will my faith. It does every year, eventually.

I still don’t know if I will ever have faith that my eyes could change to red, but after wrestling with my mind and searching deep into my soul, I normally snap out of my funk. I remember the peace I have felt.

And although right now I’m still feeling a little off, a little agitated, a little tormented, I know I will find hope again, eventually.

Say What? Stupid things you shouldn’t tell a grieving parent

I took dinner to a friend recently whose husband died suddenly. When I got there, I said something I never should have.

The whole way there I kept telling myself, “Don’t say it. Don’t say it.”  But the first three words that blurted out of my mouth when she opened the door to let me in were, “How are you?”

“How are you?” She just lost her husband, the father to her five children. I am sure she didn’t want to answer that question – even if she had an answer.

I felt like chucking the food tray up the stairs to her kitchen then running back to my car and driving off in shame. I was horrified, mortified.

I promised myself after Luca died that I wouldn’t ask anyone that question. It is one of the absolute worst things to say to someone who is mourning.

Yet I blurted it out to a friend robotically, without even thinking.

Unfortunately, our American society uses those three insincere words as a basic greeting. We all say it – all the time. But how often do we mean it? Do we really care how one another feels? Do we stop and let them respond?

Obviously I am guilty of speaking before thinking, but my most recent experience got me thinking about other stupid things we say.

I’ll never forget walking into the mortuary with a tiny white tuxedo to dress my lifeless little boy just four days after I had delivered him. A mortuary worker opened the door for my husband and I, saw the suit and said, “That’s a nice outfit, where is the baby?” All we could say was, “I hope you guys have him.”

Seriously? I don’t know how someone who works at a mortuary could have said something so stupid.

But we all make mistakes.

I’ve compiled a short list of phrases I hated to hear after Luca died. There are more, but these are the most common, ridiculous ones. Hopefully if I can focus really hard, I will avoid saying them to others who are grieving.

“He’s in a better place” – Really? Now I know it’s been at least 28 years since I was last in heaven, and it probably still is a pretty nice place, but is my home all that bad? Would living with me be the worst thing that would have happened to him?

“I know how you feel” – I have met several women who have had stillborn babies and although their stories are very similar to mine, I still have NO idea how they feel, nor do they know how I feel about my loss. So how can I expect someone who has never given birth to, then buried their deceased baby, to “know” how I feel? I think we say this way too often. We may have good intentions in trying to understand how others feel, and we may be able to relate, but we will never know how each other feels.

“I just keep thinking about all the missed opportunities you are going to have” – Thanks. I hadn’t actually thought about the life span of my deceased infant and all of the major life events I am going to miss out on. I needed the reminder that I won’t get to see him take his first steps, play his first t-ball game, walk into kindergarten for the first time, etc.

“I had a friend whose baby almost died…” – ALMOST died? I don’t even want to hear about it. For some reason there are a lot of people who when they hear about my experience, feel the need to relate by telling me of someone they know who almost had a baby die. I don’t want to hear about your acquaintance’s miracle baby. I don’t want to know how they too had a baby’s whose cord was knotted. I don’t care how awesome it was that their child is still alive. It makes me too bitter.

“At least you didn’t really know them.” – Right. I think not knowing them adds to my heartache. At what age would you chose for your child to die? None? That’s what I thought.

“Aren’t you going to hurry and have another one?” In case you didn’t notice, I just endured a 9-month pregnancy then delivery. I should probably pay off my hospital bills and let my body heal before working on having another baby. And who knows when my heart will feel ready to try again.

“At least he is safe from harm. Now you won’t have to worry about him as a teenager” – As crazy as it may sound, I would have loved to have worried about him as a teenager.

“You’ll get to raise them someday” – Now this one I honestly believe and I am completely looking forward to, but I still don’t like to hear it. I wanted to raise my son NOW. While he could play and wrestle with his brothers. While we were all in the same home. It’s hard to remember eternity with empty, aching arms.

Nothing. – As scary and uncomfortable as it may be to speak to someone who has recently lost a loved one, I think avoiding the death and pretending it never happened may be worse. It becomes a giant elephant in the room, threatening to stampede at times. If you can’t think of anything, “I’m so sorry,” is a good place to start.

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