Fifteen years ago I became an aunt for the first time.
There aren’t even words for how excited I was when I arrived home from college for Christmas break and swept that tiny month-old bundle of nephew into my arms.
I basically only let him go long enough for his mama to nurse him, and then commandeered him the rest of the time. For the entire two weeks I was home.
And no, I’m pretty sure that isn’t an exaggeration.
This past December another nephew joined our family. Between my three brothers, I’ve become an aunt twelve times over and every single baby has added immeasurable joy to my life.
And then, along with that wonderfulness, when I married my husband–he gave me fourteen more nieces and nephews.
It is marvelous.
Besides the twenty-six nieces and nephews, my husband and I have also welcomed home two older adopted children and I’m on my sixth “birth to school age” babysitting job where I pretty much have a baby Monday-Friday, 9-5ish.
In other words? God has not forgotten me.
I know this is true.
God has seen the way my heart hurts over infertility and loss, and He has kept my arms filled with nieces and nephews and the babies of friends and relatives.
And 99.8% of the time I am okay.
More than okay.
But for a long time now I’ve wondered about that .2%. The never-quite-healed part of me that makes itself known periodically. At one point I thought that .2% meant that I was still missing something– some link to complete contentment and fulfillment.
After all, there was a time when I was 100% NOT OKAY, and God soothed me and healed me and worked on me all the way to this point…so, why wasn’t the last little bit healing up?
Then my newest nephew was born.
I had received the phone call and was driving to the hospital. It was a bit after 8am and my sister-in-law was at that very moment in the OR delivering her new son. And I was crying.
Not sobbing, not heartbroken.
Just these stinging, salty tears that slipped across my cheeks and down my neck before I had a chance to let go of the steering wheel and scrub them away.
I was crying because I was 99.8% okay, and I realized right then that it was all beauty and goodness and grace. Even the tiny remnants of sadness that were woven into my joy.
When I arrived at the hospital and walked down the hall toward the maternity ward, the .2% grew and tightened my throat. All the dreams that have sprouted and died over the last eleven years of my marriage–the miscarriage, the baby who never came home from the NICU, the monthly cycles of grief that still rage–they were all present.
But then my mom was calling my name and I caught my tiny nephew being moved from the OR back to maternity, and his eyes were open wide and he was perfection. The nurse just smiled at me and stopped so I could gush over the baby and the .2% faded back to its place again.
A few minutes later I was standing by the nursery window and my dad was hugging me. He didn’t say a word, but his hug said a lot. It said he was happy–so, so happy–but he knew about the piece of sadness and he felt it too.
So he hugged me to say that he saw me and loved me and it was good.
Nobody makes it through life unscathed by sorrow, and we all feel the scraping of sadness at times.
And being healed doesn’t mean we’re 100% okay with what’s happening in life.
Being healed means learning to feel all the sadness and all the happy when it comes, all the while knowing that our shalom, our peace and wholeness, is settled deep. It won’t move, no matter what we’re feeling.
We’re promised in Philippians 4:7 that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This means we don’t have to understand everything.
Not the loss, not the sorrow, not the lack.
We can just know, deep down, that we are safe, even when life hurts.
Today, I am feeling 99.8% okay.
And as it turns out–that’s enough.
Because even though I don’t understand it all, there is a truth that goes far beyond my feelings–and it says that I am whole, even with a thread of sorrow stitched through my life.