To read the first part of this two part series, click here: Rescued (part 1)
Leah was like every other newborn baby. Fabulously chubby cheeks, tiny little toes. There were diaper changes and bottles. There was very little sleep. Pushing through the exhaustion and loving on this brand new life who was starting fresh in the world was so good for my soul. I was waking every two hours with a fussy baby, and in the process my soul was waking up, too. The fog lifted. She brought so much healing to my hurting heart. That newborn baby smell alone is good medicine. During that period of time, one scripture stayed on my heart:
“For everything there is a season... A time to be born and a time to die... A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
It was Leah’s time to be born. And it was incredible. Even in hard circumstances, even with a hurting mommy. It was on purpose. That was easy to accept. As I embraced her “time to be born” I began to see the more difficult parts of that scripture like “a time to die” and “a time to grieve” in a different light. Could those somehow be good, too? Yes. I think so. A life just beginning is meaningful, but a life well lived and then completed is meaningful too. It is right to dance and rejoice…but it is right to weep and grieve, too. Both are gifts in their own way. The good given to us by grace…and enough grace given to us to get through the bad. The aching in saying goodbye to a person or a season in our lives serving as a reminder that we were blessed to have had something so hard to let go of. The pain an obvious indication that we are in need of a Savior. Baby Leah was a precious reminder that somehow sorrow and gladness can coexist in the most beautiful way.
While we cared for Leah (and she in turn tended to our hurting hearts) Christy was diligent. Intentional with every moment she spent away from her sweet girl, we were soon called to a meeting with her family to discuss next steps. Christy’s family was understandably terrified to know there were “strangers” caring for their own flesh and blood. It was a miracle the way an hour together eased their fears. All of their hesitations were gone and they welcomed our help. It wasn’t anything we said or did. There weren’t words or actions sufficient. It was the grace of God alone that gave them peace. The moment we joined hands as one family and prayed for God’s direction is a moment I will hold on to forever.
While we shared our hearts, my concern for Christy grew. She would not join us or her family. She stayed in the car of the parking lot. After some time passed, I asked her mom if it would be okay for me to go out and speak to her. She agreed. The shame in that car was palpable. Christy wept uncontrollably. She was humiliated to share with her family that she needed Safe Families. She said she felt unworthy of our help and like a failure and an inconvenience. I joined her in the weeping as I reminder her that she was strong and courageous; that a mom who has the strength and selflessness to say “this is more than I can handle and I need help” is not a failure. She’s a hero.
She seemed to calm, but made it clear that she was feeling the separation and divide I spoke about in my first post. The one we so desperately try to avoid. The one that implies that the moms that utilize Safe Families are insufficient and the volunteers are superior. I knew I had to get real with her. It was a risk. She may not want her baby being cared for by a person who actually DOESN’T have it all together. I had to let go of my pride and open up about the things I was learning.
“Christy-you are not a charity case. You have been a help to us as well. You should know that my Dad has brain cancer…stage 4…” I told her everything. I told her about my summer, and about my sadness. I told her about the way I saw death everywhere until I saw her baby and was finally able to see life again. I told her that we had set out to be rescuers but that she had rescued our family right back. She hugged me and said “I had no idea.” When she pulled away there was no judgement, no fear, and best of all no shame. There was joy. She smiled and said “God knew that I needed you and that you needed me, too. That’s so cool.” She was right.
You’ve heard me say it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again-Safe Families is messy work. It is hardly ever the case that a story wraps up in a neat, pretty bow. But I’m happy to say that after a couple of weeks Christy and Leah were reunited and stable. Christy is doing an awesome job parenting and we get updates from time to time on baby Leah. Where Leah has grown physically, Christy has grown in her confidence and in her joy. She has grown in her relationship with God and in her ability to trust others. And because of her, I have grown, too. At the heart of it, life is meant to be lived together. Those in seasons of joy and those in seasons of pain walking alongside each other. I’m so thankful to have walked some of my path with Christy and Leah.