The five seconds of profound life change in between ordering a soda and restraining a child on a plane

Ever since my kids were born I have no longer been able to watch crime shows.  I used to love CSI, Cold Case, and a couple others but I just can’t do it anymore.  There are no disclaimers that say “this story will involve a murdered baby” or “this episode including child trauma” and therefore when it takes me by surprise it always takes my breath away and brings me to tears.  And I don’t mean just normal TV-show tears.  I mean crying on the couch, Jeremy asking if I’m ok, go look at my sleeping kids kind of tears.  I just can’t handle it anymore.

I guess part of being an empathetic person (which I never thought I was before having kids) is that when someone else feels pain, even fictional pain, I feel it with them.  Maybe I don’t know what it’s like to walk in their shoes but it’s not from lack of trying.  News stories about abuse and infanticide, personal friends who have lost children, and TV episodes someone made up to entertain us (which, honestly, we might need to talk about this later) all hit really, really, really close to home for me.  Is this a phase?  Do all new moms go through this and eventually learn to live with it?  Do I have an unhealthy protective instinct?  I don’t know.

Before Malachi was born one night I was lying in bed thinking about how afraid I was that XYZ would happen while I was pregnant and what could I even do to stop it?  How could I protect him?  And then I realized, I couldn’t.  I knew at some point I would have to surrender him to the Lord but I realized I had to do it then, before he was in my arms, because otherwise I probably never could.  It wasn’t a long prayer or even a profound one, but it ended in a lot more peace than I had before I started.  I have prayed and re-prayed that prayer over both my children many times since.

My heart breaks and aches over some of the things going on in our world.  Abortion, infanticide, gendercide, and poverty that results in the death of unwanted children.  There are warehouses in southeast Asia where infant girls are left to die simply because they are girls.  The mother might stop by to feed them – maybe not.  I imagine what I would do if I lived there and found one of these warehouses.  Would I rush in and rescue as many babies as I could, like this woman did?  Would I walk in the door, break down, and pound my fists in anger?  Would I avoid it because the problem is too big?  When I think about how to be active in the pro-life movement, I know the biggest difference I could make would be through sidewalk counseling.  But how, HOW, could I talk to a woman about the unborn life inside her, watch her walk into the clinic pregnant and walk out….not.  Ever since I’ve had my own children I’ve been afraid God would ask me to do ministry in one of those situations and it makes me shake.  I can’t.  How can you ask me to do this?  My heart would break and it would never mend.

Whenever we go on plane trips I bring 7 or 8 magazines from the magazine stack that I never have time to get to.  I usually put off reading the missions magazines because they take the longest.  On the way to Seattle I was working my way through a World Vision magazine when I came to this story.  Go read it.  Did you go?  Go.

When I got to the end I imagined sitting beside that woman while her baby died.  Holding her hand, praying for her, and just being with her while she went through the most profound loss I imagine a mother could ever experience.  I’ve suspected for a few months now that God is preparing me to minister in some way to orphans/grieving mothers/pregnant women considering abortion and I just….I don’t even know.  So as I sat there, casually sipping my soda and eating my Delta snack mix, internally I finally snapped and said, “God, how can you ask me, as a mother, to minister to people like this?  It’s so painful!  It’s too close to home!  How can you ask me to go through that?”  And then in the still, small, earth-shaking, deafening Voice I have come to know and love, He said, “Because that is how I feel about my children.”

And I got it.  I finally got it.  Rescuing unwanted babies is not an end in itself – if it were it would be all-too exhausting.  Saving a few babies from abortion while thousands more die is not an end in itself – if it were it would be a stupid undertaking.  Ministering to grieving mothers is not an end in itself – if it were it would be pointless.  All of these hard, heartbreaking, passionate ministries exist because through them He is glorified.  It’s not just about rescuing unwanted babies – it’s about rescuing lost and lonely people who are wanted by God.  It’s not just about saving a few babies from abortion – it’s about saving souls from damnation.  And it’s not just about comforting grieving mothers – it’s about wiping every tear from their eyes.

It still breaks my heart.  Getting in the trenches – those kind of trenches – still scares me.  But the truth is, His heart has been broken for us from the foundation of the world.  He has given me beautiful children to love while His children are dying without him every day.

You know how it takes an hour to explain something that only took you half a second to process?  That’s what this is.  My eyes watered, I said a short prayer, and then I rescued Malachi’s cup of juice before it spilled all over the airplane floor.  I helped Jeremy juggle the kids, snacks, and drinks during the turbulence.  We had a conversation about soy nuts.  Life went on.

This is the first that I’ve really revisited that achingly profound, anonymous moment on the airplane.  I’m a little afraid of where all this is going, but I’m more afraid of not going there.

3 thoughts on “The five seconds of profound life change in between ordering a soda and restraining a child on a plane

  1. Okay, Allie, this is officially my favorite one of your posts yet…This one hits very close to home for me. Thank you for writing this… Going through that pain and loss alone is one of the hardest things in the world and having just one other woman reaching out to a mother who’s lost a baby could change so much. I will be praying about this for you…what an awesome (and very hard) ministry!

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