I continue to be amazed at the way that online & virtual community truly is community. I still receive heartfelt notes, comments, emails and Facebook messages from people I don’t know who keep expressing their love and care and concern for us. On my first Father’s Day this past Sunday, I received a note from someone who I’ve never met; we simply share one mutual friend on Facebook. But her note was thoughtful, caring and frankly, it totally and completely caught me off guard. The story that she shares is amazing, and I think attests to the universal body of Christ coming together to care and be with one another in times of grief. I asked her if I could share her message with you, and it is reprinted below with her permission:
“In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I’m blessed.” These are the lyrics in a recent hit by Christian artist Francesca Battistelli, and they perfectly sum up the past year of my life raising 3 kids under the age of 3.
I’ll admit that at the very beginning, things were easier than I was expecting. Both Bert and I were home full-time for their first 3 months, and since they were born so early, they spent most of the day just sleeping.. But then, when Bert went back to work full-time and the boys started needing more and more attention, we were all stretched a bit thin. Even Grammie and Papa needed a break. My patience waivered. I was frustrated with not being able to do it all. I caught myself yelling. I was tired of the crying, tired of the fussing, and just plain tired. I had become an angry zombie.
At the peak of it all, when Matthew and Nathan were 4 months old, I posted as my Facebook status, “Dear Matthew and Nathan, You are supposed to be getting easier, not harder.” Later that day, I found out, via Facebook, that some friends of a friend, Adam and Sarah, had just lost their identical twin boys. They were 19 weeks pregnant, as excited as we had been just a few months before, when her water broke unexpectedly. Their babies, named Micah and Judah, were born weighing only 10oz and 8oz, were baptized, and died an hour later.
Through their situation, God severely convicted me of my attitude. After all that Adam and Sarah had been through, I had no right to even think about complaining about anything. I knew that they would do anything to have the opportunity to wake up several times a night to hold and feed their two crying babies. I continue to think of them and pray for them every single day. Friends of a friend, strangers really, whom I will probably never meet, who have changed my life.
There is a long history in the Christian faith of receiving a new name at an important spiritual point in one’s life. Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah with the joining into a covenant relationship with God; Jacob became Israel after wrestling with God; Simon became Simon Peter; Saul became Paul. There is also evidence from early church history that from as early as the 4th century, there was the practice of receiving a new name when being baptized and some Christian denominations today still practice this regularly as part of baptism or confirmation.
So, in conjunction with today’s Baby Dedication Ceremony, we’re giving the twins new middle names. These babies are now “Matthew Micah” and “Nathan Judah.” We’re doing this in part to honor our friends in Christ, Adam and Sarah, whom we continue to mourn deeply with, and in memory of their precious sons, Micah and Judah. And we’re doing this in part as a daily reminder that our children are not our own; they are God’s. As the names “Matthew” (which means “Gift of the Lord”) and “Nathan” (which means “He has given”) indicate, children are gifts from God, created to fulfill His purposes, whatever they may be.