As soon as I found out I was pregnant with a boy (NOT NOW people, this is back in 2004), I began searching for a name with meaning. His name would need to really mean something. It just had to be special.
And we chose, John. John means “God has been gracious.” As soon as that 9 pound boy was in my arms, I could feel the weight of his name and everything he meant in every ounce.
Here’s the quick backstory: I lost one baby in 2001. I gave birth to our beautiful Lauren in 2002. In the years after, I would have three more miscarriages. One of those pregnancies was an ectopic that ruptured and almost took me with it. I woke up from that surgery with the doctor at the end of my bed telling me, “You’re lucky you made it and you’re lucky you have one child. You will not be able to have any more kids.”
There’s so much pain in that handful of sentences; mourning and bleeding and darkness on repeat. The “no more kids” was a kick in the gut I will never forget. Finding out I was pregnant and then growing that boy inside me felt like the longest 9 months. So, his name needed to be special. I wanted it to be a reflection and reminder of the gift.
It’s important to celebrate the good stuff. I have a golden Hooray banner for that, remember?
I’ve come to believe that you need to mark the hard stuff. It is just as important to stick a flag in the ground where you’ve struggled to say VICTORY or HOLY SH– or NEVER AGAIN!
“It’s worth noting that at the culmination of nearly every wilderness journey is a naming.” It’s important to “name each wilderness, to mark those spots where, when all hope seemed lost, we encountered God.” Good, right?
I read this and underlined it immediately on page 50 of “Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible again” by Rachel Held Evans. This book should be in your Amazon cart, now. I would lend you my copy but there are lines and scribbled notes all over it.
The last time I wrote here I was getting past my anger and trying to move into ownership of my body and my pain. Gosh, that is soooooo much easier to type than actually DO. Something my therapist suggested is acknowledge the pain when it starts to creep back. Face it, call it out, breathe through it and stretch. My usual reaction to the pain was get sad, angry, curl up on the couch and take the Gabapentin.
Working through the pain has felt like a “wilderness” to me, has meant honesty to see it, humility to face it, strength to stare it down, endurance to breathe through it. And I’m doing it. And I haven’t taken ONE Gabapentin since I last wrote 49 days ago.
In the past 49 days, I have gone to camp with middle schoolers and run all over doing selfie scavenger hunts to late night pizza parties, I’ve been to the beach jumping in the waves with all FIVE of my kids, I’ve been hiking with friends, I’ve hosted a few big family events; and not taken one Gabapentin. I need a flag with a good name on it and I want to stick it in the ground.
Because I am a human and you are too, I know we have pain in common.
What does your wilderness look like?
You have a flag in your hand because God put it there.
He wants to see you out.
“Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
Here’s my version:
Come on! Why are you looking back? Don’t get stuck!
Name your pain. And let’s get moving!
God doesn’t want you hurting.
And He doesn’t just want to make some old crap better. God wants to make something TOTALLY new.
Don’t you see it? He’s making a way in your wilderness.
There is a way out.
Listen for that voice. And grab your flag.
(Also, there should be a flag for the Wilderness that is “Age 13.” And I would like to bop the now 13 year old gift from God over the head with it.)