I think everyone knows the verses from Psalms that my title refers to. They are read at funerals. They were even referenced in a nineties rap song. Jason and I both cringe when they are read at funerals. Neither of us want them read at ours. However they are some interesting verses. And in reality they don't only refer to dying, or being on the brink of death. There is a lot in those six verses.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me besides quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23
Despite the reputation for being a funeral passage I actually feel like it describes our lives pretty well. My personal journey with Christ began my senior year of high school, and Jason's his junior year of college. And for many years it felt like we lived in green pastures beside quiet waters. God spent numerous years building us up with great things. It's not that there weren't any bad things in those years. They just didn't really make us question anything we believed in.
And although the wait for a baby was hard, it was not a valley of the shadow of death. I know people who live in that valley; but for us we are just in close proximity.
For the first nine months or so after Abigail's diagnoses, that's where it felt like I lived; in almost constant fear that my baby would be taken from me. And as I move further away from the diagnoses the thing I have been able to look back and see is that God never changed. I did. A whole bunch. I will continue to change. Through the times I wondered what He was doing, and why; He gently comforted me with His rod and His staff. He also prepared a table for me before my enemy; the enemy who enjoys telling me all the things that could happen, and why this might be happening to my baby. As I sit at that table and supp, none of those things from the enemy can even be heard above my heart crying out in praise.
I really do feel anointed in this situation. I feel the grace and mercy of the Lord washing over me, and I see it pouring over my daughter. I watch my little girl and know that my cup runeth over. As I hold her, play with her, sing, dance, laugh, and cry I could not contain another ounce or moment of the greatness the Lord has brought to me. I know that His goodness and love will follow me forever, and some day my husband, daughter, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I don't want this to sound cliche. It's not something I'm supposed to say because I'm a Christian. When we first found out about Abigail's NF I felt like someone had rocked my whole world. I imagine that if I could see things the way God did during that time there was a large shadow over me.
The thing about all of it is that I really can look backward, at now, and forward, and see that God didn't change, isn't changing, and will not change. His world was not rocked by my daughter's diagnoses. He knew when He knit her together in her mother's womb that there was a chromosomal mutation. He knew when and where she would get tumors. He knew that Jason and I would be her parents. He knows the number of her days, the time of her last breath, and the way to cure anything she may ever face.
Over the last few weeks as I have begun to try to prepare myself for another MRI and what may come of it, I have been shocked at how peaceful I feel. I have even been able to look at pictures of what might lie ahead for Abigail if she does have a tumor on her leg, and have been fine. It's not that I'm not saddened by the possibility. It's that it doesn't actually change who Abigail is, who I am, or who God is.
Knowing who I am in Christ, who my daughter is, and who Christ is means that even when things look and feel shaky, I will not be moved. My life, my hope, my joy, my peace, my everything comes from a foundation that is solid. Had I not walked into this with that foundation, the months of grieving I encountered would have taken me to the pit of despair and left me there. But as I stand, I can face tomorrow knowing that my God is good. And that is all I need to get me through anything that NF can bring our way.
Enjoying the green pastures and quiet waters,