i have had the opportunity to hear a lot of worship/praise songs in english this past week. i guess i didn’t realize that i havent heard english praise/worship since i was in the states for eisley hope’s birth. i have found myself listening more than singing. in the beginning i found myself wishing that i could pin a sign to my back that read, “please don’t judge me – – i have a story that you don’t know.” yet during this week i have found comfort that the people i am surrounded by this week have turned out to be very kind and very gentle.

i am not mad when i sit there not singing – – i am just thoughtful. i find myself reflecting on the song, wondering what the song writer was thinking when she or he was writing the song. we sang a song that had the line, “i am confident in life and in death” (or something close). i was looking around the room at the different men and women singing, praising, hands raised. and i found myself thinking, “but don’t you realize that it is so easy to be confident in death until you actually stare death in the face.”

truth be told, i am not sure how to keep moving forward – – learning, healing and growing – – without becoming a cynic. i think the death of a child, the death of a niece – – combined with being a dreamer, an inspirer, a “sickeningly optimistic positive morning person” as my husband lovingly refers to me – – is a hard mouthful to swallow.

i haven’t closed my eyes and pictured my pictures in almost five months. i don’t even know how to describe what that means. but my dreaming, inspiring, crazy brain is very dark and very quiet now. when i close my eyes, pictures don’t dance the way they used to. instead i find that i either see absolutely nothing or a flashback. the flashbacks are not always bad – – sometimes i am leaning over my brand new niece and smelling her little strawberry blond head for the very first time. those flashbacks i don’t mind. it is when i close my eyes, and i am crumpling to the floor as i realize my precious niece has trisomy 13 or watching my sister bite her lip as tears stream down her face or watching my four year old kiss her cousin’s oh so tiny cheek. those flashbacks leave me simply exhausted.

mercy misses eisley the most lately. she finds things almost every day and softly, sadly whispers, “i miss eisley hope.” i think it is interesting that mercy never calls her just eisley, but always eisley hope. mercy still struggles with me leaving her for long periods of time. she still flips out if she doesn’t know where daddy or i are at all times. she still goes into these “baby phases” where she won’t use words and won’t walk on her own. i know with time that this will fade but for now mercy is a daily reminder that we all just need a little extra grace.

on tuesday, we sang “it is well with my soul.” the weird part is that on monday i thought to myself, “if we sing that song, i don’t think i could sing it.” when we started singing it, i sat there listening – – and as i listened, i started to wonder. if you know the story, you know that mr. spafford lost his three children when the ship carrying his wife and children sank crossing the atlantic ocean. his wife survived and as he traveled to europe in another ship to be with her, the story goes that he went up on deck around the place his children had died and wrote the hymn we know as “it is well with my soul.” i always believed him to be some sort of spiritually mature amazement – – some sort of rock of faith and belief – – something to desire and pursue. eisley hope has not only changed me, she has changed my doctrine too in some ways. and sitting there, i began to realize that perhaps mr. spafford had absolutely zero faith in God at that moment. maybe he was furious at God for taking his children from him. maybe he truly doubted Jesus’ existance at that moment. maybe he was simply choosing to voice the words he knew to be true but didn’t believe at that moment. maybe he didn’t belt them out in some almighty chorus of trust. maybe he choked them out in angry and confused whispers, pausing in between verses to weep.

and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. when i step back and look at it all, the bigger picture – – i can’t help but wonder if that is the healthier thing to do anyway.

i think Jesus wants us to be real more than anything else. i don’t think jeremiah was exactly thrilled with God in the first part of chapter 20. i think when he says in verse 9, {but if i say, “i will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name”} i think he is truly doubting if God really has all His ducks in a row. read habakkuk 2 and you will see a prophet that not only complained but simply doubted what the heck God was up to. psalm 142:2 says, “i pour out before him my complaint; before him i tell my trouble.” the writer of psalm 102 has all but thrown in the towel from depression and sadness. in fact, a quick google search says that as many as 65-67 psalms are full of those christian behaviors that we click our tongue at disapprovingly – – things like anger, doubt, sadness, complaints, depression and more.

and yet john 16:33 tells me, “i have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. in this world you will have trouble. but take heart! i have overcome the world.”

and so with mercy, mr. spafford, the prophet jeremiah, the prophet habakkuk and all the psalms in mind, i extend myself another does of grace. i remind myself that i don’t have to sing praise songs to worship Jesus. i whisper to myself, “you will be okay” while breathing slowly, calmly. i remind myself that someday i will dream again. i tell myself that it is okay to be comfused and doubtful. i allow my “devotions” to be nothing more than reading the Jesus story book bible to my kids and praying with them. why not – – we are told to become like little children. maybe i will find my Savior through my kids and their childlike faith.

and if that is all that makes sense today – – well, so be it. “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…”
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Marie Klein Burtt

About Marie Klein Burtt

One Comment

  • Karen Hutchinson says:

    Hi Marie–
    I, too, lost a child a very long time ago–it was before birth but still hurts. We didn’t have 12 days to get to know our child but we had waited 6-1/2 years for this child to come and then in a very few days, it was gone. At the time I was very angry with God–how could He allow this to happen; I clinched my teeth and silently cried out to God. I was blessed a nurse came to my bedside and asked if there was anything she could do–I asked her if she could find a Bible–she said she would and did. I was going to start in John but God had other ideas–don’t ask me how but I ended up in Psalms. Starting at Psalms 150: 1-6, then Psalms 149: 1-7; Psalms 148: 1-14; Psalms 147: 1-19; Psalms 146:1-6; Psalms 145: 1-21; Psalms 144: 1-2; Psalms 143:1; Psalms 139:1-18. With Psalms 139 finished I closed my eyes and went to sleep (a little hospital juice helped). I cannot say I didn’t think about my child any more I did and still do but also know that one day I will see its precious face–and God sent two more wonderful children after this. “Be still and know that I am God.” “I will never leave you nor forsake you. This is my prayer for you that you and Sarah will be blessed beyond measure by His love and goodness. And I pray that your bright dreams will slowly come back–maybe with a little more maturity and maybe just exactly as they were before. Please give Mercy a kiss and tell her there are people praying for her and let her know how precious she is in our sight as well as God’s sight. My prayers are with you and Sarah daily. As many negative things in Psalms there are just as many that tell us to praise Him no matter the trials we are bearing. I hope you will come into the healing that praise brings. Know that you are loved, and we will see Eisley Hope again someday–completely whole.

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