We have had a rough couple of weeks at the Perkins’ house lately. Levi came down with…well, I refuse to call it by its name for the same irrational fear that the wizarding world refuses to say Voldemort’s name…so let’s just say its a terrible, gross virus that manifests itself with spots and it’s not the chicken pox. (Pardon me while I spit three times and spin in a circle to rid myself of its bad juju.) So Levi came down with this disease that must not be named and that meant an instant two weeks of quarantine for us, as it is HIGHLY contagious amongst the little ones in our lives and the thought of any of his little friends having to go through the same hardship was too heartbreaking. So we hunkered down. And the first couple of days were hard because he just didn’t feel well and then it got really hard because not only did he not feel well but he turned out to have quite the doozy of this little bug and he was in a lot of pain. There were sleepless nights of sobbing and crying and at one point he just looked up at me and half screeched, half sobbed “Why can’t you make it go away?”
Oh man. I am sure that parents braver than I have had to witness far worse atrocities happen to their children but let me just say, from my brief and somewhat mild experience with it, not being able to take away your child’s pain or really provide them any comfort at all is one of the most heartbreaking and difficult experiences I have encountered so far in my 4 years down this road. When Levi asked me that at 2AM that awful morning I had no choice but to simply break down with him. I had offered him every tool in my arsenal. We had given him every over the counter medicine and balm we could think of. I had scoured the internet for any home remedy or hippie oil solution to give him some relief, but with this particular virus, like the chicken pox, just has to run its course. There is no magic potion. The pain must simply exist and be endured for a while. The pain is what leads to the ultimate healing.
My counselor has been spending weeks now trying to convince me that God is in my little foxhole called life with me. She has asked carefully worded questions and challenged false preconceived ideas in an effort to jog my memory into believing that God isn’t a Greek deity raining down His wrath because He woke up on the wrong side of Heaven today but that He truly cares and hurts and grieves with me when I hurt and grieve. And for my part, I tried really hard to believe her. I tried sitting in sadness with God and inviting Him in, although I wasn’t sure I trusted Him all the way. I tried looking for Him and speaking to Him as if He truly cared. I tried meditation and reflection and all but yoga, because I really dislike yoga. And although I could see glimmers of His presence, I couldn’t wrap my mind around why exactly He wasn’t fixing…anything. I wasn’t even asking for big miracles. I just wanted some relief. I just wanted a quick fix at 2AM to get me to sleep.
And in that moment of Levi sobbing his request to me in the middle of the night, I suddenly understood where God has been the whole time. I felt what He feels for me. I recognized that He has been offering me every over the counter medicine He can think of. He has given me some amazing friendships that have provided sweet relief at times where I think I am at my end. He has given me a wise and patient counselor to quench the thirst when it gets too bad. He has fortified my marriage and made it a peaceful balm at a time that feels like I am covered in sores. And those medicines provide some temporary relief and keep me from losing my mind in pain, but this kind of virus just has to run its course. And in those moments when you have offered all that you can and you have realized that pain is the only option for the one that you love more than life itself, the only other option is to sit and cry with the one you love. As a parent, in those moments of physical pain and emotional chaos, all of you can do is hold your child, weep with them and promise that it will get better with time. And the willingness to sit with them and offer your own pain at their pain is the bravest and most loving gift you can give them in that moment. It doesn’t take their pain away and it doesn’t even make the long night go by quicker but it lets them know that they aren’t alone.
We are not alone at 2AM. Our God is sitting on our bedside, weeping silently and waiting for the virus to pass.