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In the Waiting


I whispered his name because I couldn’t find any other words. The name I chose for him all those years ago on that cold winter morning of his birth. The name I’ve whispered in moments of tender affection. The name that I’ve been guilty of raising my voice at in exhausted frustration. A name that holds years of sweet memories my heart treasures.

But there I found myself that morning standing in my bathroom, sleep deprived and with tears, snot, and a heart that was bleeding. There is nothing that will wound your heart like when one of your children are hurting. Especially when it’s a hurt that you can’t fix. Gone are the days of a bandaid and a kiss to make the tears stop. It will make your heart feel fragile and with amnesia for all the other difficult things you’ve survived in your life.

So I just whispered his name and offered it up to heaven in helpless surrender. And with his name was an unspoken plea of my heart. “See him… please. Don’t forget this child of mine.”

There’s this story in John, chapter eleven, that I see myself in. It opens with a very sick man and his sisters have sent word to Jesus that, “the one you love so very much is sick.”And yet, Jesus unapologetically arrives on the scene four days too late. Four days in the wake of grief, disappointment, and silence feels eternal. Ninety-six hours of waiting. Five thousand and seven hundred and sixty minutes of a slow ticking clock. Eternal.

Like the smell of antiseptic and lack of color in a hospital waiting room.

Like the silence of the car ride when following a hearse.

Like the chill of winter in your bones when the ground and everything that was once living feels frozen and dead.

It’s agonizing and can’t end soon enough. When you’ve sent for help from the only One who can help, and that help finally arrives, you run out of the house like one of the sisters did to see what’s about to happen, right? No. Not always.

Then the text says this, “Mary remained in the house.”

And that is the part of the story where I see myself. Sitting there in the house with my doubts, confusion, and anger. And so many questions.

Had her faith collapsed? “Four days have passed. This situation is way beyond hope.”

Did she feel unseen and alone in her pain? “I called for you, and you dragged your feet in getting here? Do I matter that little to you?” 

Was she raging with bitterness in her heart? “Where were you when I needed you? How could you let this happen if you love us?” 

When I was little, and before I knew heartbreak and shame, I used to play in the creek on my grandparent’s property. It was my spot. Calm and safe. I loved that little creek bed and the shade of the tall trees, the coolness of the water, and rearranging the rocks to make a crossing path. And He saw me there and knew my name. 

When I grew older and gave myself away too young and sought love in the wrong places, He saw me then, and He knew my name. 

When I found myself standing in the ashes of my own wreckage with tragedy and a story I never wanted, He saw me there. He saw me standing in the aftermath with my broken heart and my fists clenched. And He called my name. He asked for me. 

You see, it’s the next part of the story that I love the most. Mary’s sister comes back into the house and whispers in her ear, “Jesus is