If you've ever been crazy enough to challenge your body and use it to run/bike/swim obscene amounts of miles then you will understand what I'm about to talk about. If not, then find someone to hold a cup of water half way between a point A and a point B where you think it's too far and you'll understand this analogy. I've run a number of 5k's and scarily enough, dream of running a marathon. Yes, there's something absurd about making your body carry itself over endless moments of concrete and asphalt but yet within the absurdity lies a great urge to feel the rush of adrenaline pushing you over a finish line. It's euphoric, and no, it's not the lack of oxygen flowing to your head because you've just run 26.2 miles, it's the high that you've trained yourself, disciplined your body to propel you through unnerving hours of muscle clenching, joint straining, and feet burning repetition. But during the race, that fortress of solitude known as your head, begins to play tricks on you as you pound the pavement. You see, a marathon is a mind game because if you've trained your body and have prepared it for what it's about to do, it will do it. But your mind, those electrical signals firing through neurons in your brain, will tell you differently because it's truly in there where the race is happening.
You start the race enthralled by the sound, the electricity in the air, your pulse gliding through the weighted waters of nerves. Your heart, leashed by the cage of your body, tries to escape through your ears. You hear the countdown, the hubbub around you lets you know that the moment draws near to let loose the mustangs that you've had fenced in and BANG! the gate breaks open and they begin to pound the ground in desperation. You hear the cheers all around you, the crowds screaming for all to run well, to race with the best you have. The noise is deafening and the sound of feet stomping on the asphalt is one of metronome-esk rhythm but as you get further away from the start, the rhythm begins to thin to sound like rain starting to fall on a roof and then, it's just you. Your heart beating in your ears and your feet pushing off the street is all that sings to you. The music of the race. It's in this early part of the race that your mind starts throwing the mental hurdles at you. "What am I doing? Why in the world did i decide to do this?! I've only gone 5 miles?? Great!??!" It's during this time that you look around to see who's pacing with you, or rather, who you can pace with.
For the most part, you're alone and keeping yourself company as you discuss the reasons why you are currently doing what you are doing. You begin to doubt the possibility that you will ever make it to the end and around the time that you want to sit down on the side of the road and give in to what you think is exhaustion, you see kind people standing ahead with cups of water and cheering words of perseverance. As you run pass, they pass you a cup and you automatically feel a new energy. You haven't even had a sip yet but transference of the coolness into your hand gives you jolt and you know what it is about to do for you as you slowly let the water trickle down your throat and on your face.
This is exactly where we are in this journey with our babies. NICU life is a marathon and we're currently at our questioning phase of the journey. A month in and the feelings of desperation, frustration, some hopelessness are starting to set in. "Are we really going to be here another month to two months? Is our baby really going to make it out ok? Do the doctors and nurses know what they are doing? We have two babies...?" But thanks to so many of our family and friends who constantly are pouring their wisdom and knowledge in to our lives, we grab a cup of water and we continue to press on, even with our doubts pushing the tears on to our faces. Even though many are around us cheering and encouraging us, the mental solitary mind games that we must face are what ultimately we will have to battle through all of this. We stand and run this race, not for our girls because our perseverance really won't do anything for them, but for Christ to be magnified through the journey. For the outcome of this marathon isn't whether our babies are here with us or not, it's whether or not the Creator of these lives was glorified through the trial. The enjoyment of the lives we have is merely His blessing to us.
"And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it."
(Jeremiah 33:9 ESV)
May we be a city on a hill that proclaims the name of Jesus through our doubts and our fears. No man knows the future but we know our response with whatever the future may hold. May the names of our girls not laude the name of a doctor or nurse or a hospital but rather may they bring a shout of praise and glory to a God that has delivered them. For He has provided for us in more ways than we can count and we tremble at His goodness. We know of the good He provides and we sing of His glory. He is the Bearer of our Salvation and the Light of our winding path.
Soli Deo Gloria.