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Praying Through A War Wound

alec vanderboom

I realized that I'm having a hard time praying for Miss Emma because I'm a former NICU Mom. You think it would make it easier, but its harder sometimes.

It's like I've got this hidden scar tissue, that I don't even know is there until I start using that muscle in prayer. First, I realized Emma's accident violated my unspoken contract with God. I was totally cool with accepting that every time I got pregnant in the future, I was going to struggle with anxiety that a birth defect would land us back in the NICU. That is a hard struggle, but I took a false comfort that my intense anxiety would only be for a"fixed moment in time."

Emma's situation highlights that a serious health concern can happen to any of my children at any moment in time. A Life and Death trip to the ICU isn't simply limited to the time they are fragile newborns. I'm so not cool with that, God! Ugh, I need to revisit that "Jesus, I trust in you" Physical Therapy schedule again.

Secondly, it hurts my heart to see people not pray for Emma. I was in a situation where I called it "spinning plates." There were two people who were standing next to me when I asked them to pray for Emma. My request made them massively uncomfortable. Rather than say, "Wow, this situation is really scary, I'm not sure I want to talk about it." They started what I called "spinning plates." The conversation jerked around into some really strange directions, the two of them tossed around different plans and ideas that had nothing to do with prayer, and I felt rushed out of their presence as quickly as possible.

I felt awful. My first thought when I got back into my car was "God, please don't let Maureen feel like I did!" Where did that come from? Why was this suddenly about me?

 I realized only later that this is the opposite angle of the abandonment I felt when my daughter Tess was in the hospital. I feel so ungrateful writing about this--because I know God was with me! It's just this father wound I have. There were men that before Tessy's sickness I had as father-figures to my soul. When they didn't show up or call during her hospital stay--I just assumed they physically didn't know that I need them. So when I see avoidant behavior worked out in front of your during a PICU prayer request--even though it has nothing to do with my own child years later--it hurts my heart.

After the "spinning plates" episode, I couldn't solicit anymore prayer requests or even create a Facebook page for a few days.

But today I'm back. Emma's got her cross to carry today. I've got mine. My job is to love on my babies and my spouse as best as I can, be gentle around this hidden war wound, and trust that all of this emotional pain brings great Glory to God when carry our hidden crosses for Him and with Him.