When I Asked to Know You

There is a sudden ache in my gut, like I’ve been kicked. As much as I prepare for hospital-sterile, IV’s and blinking lights, the moment I enter my daughter’s room I cannot stop the sudden intake of breath. I pause, the dread in my stomach stops my heart for a second, and I wait till the darkness around the corners of my vision return to light. I step inside after the room steadies. Her still body, incongruent with my vivacious daughter, remains unmoving.

Sofia, seated on the sterile white, climbs over the bump of her mom’s body. Little knees stretch the thin tubing and tangle in the twisting of a two-year-old following a familiar route, rolling across her mommy’s heart spanning the distance from one side to another. I grimace, ready to rescue should the needle pull from where it sticks into my daughter’s hand, but the clear tape holds steady, as if it is part of her skin.

I catch my son-in-law in a moment of deep sadness, head bent observing. He is talking to Jesus, and I know I am entering a sanctuary of sorts.

Six-month-old Bella lies in the crook of Charity’s immobile arm. Baby fingers spread and touch in a jerky concentrated effort in front of her tiny face. She is fixed on new discovery.

My daughter looks at points somewhere in the air. Her eyes are vacant. As I approach to peer over where she lies, I am not sure she knows who I am.  It cuts me in a place I didn’t know I had, a mother-daughter link-up, severed.

“It is the medication,” I tell myself, but my heart weeps because I feel like my arm is cut off, as if the girl I know is gone. I feel like she is floating somewhere out of reach, snatched away, exchanged by the still form in her place.

I want her eyes to snap and her words to fly. I long for her laugh, to hear the way she pronounces “sure” like “shore,” and to have her reach into her pile of ever-ready-allergy-needed kleenexes and blow.  I ache with missing even though I spend almost every waking hour with her.

When I asked to know You better God, I didn’t mean this good.

“…That I may know Him…” Paul wrote.  (Phil. 3:10; NKJV).

I thought that meant the good stuff, to know Him in goodness and grace and mercy. I wanted His character to infuse mine, and I prayed for it. I yearned for Him. But I wanted the privilege to pick and choose from a smorgasbord of likable choices.

It had sufficed to know intellectually the God of thick darkness who took Egypt’s firstborn males, to read of God so holy His name couldn’t be pronounced. But to know intimately that God, the One who crushed Job, or the One so glorious He couldn’t be looked upon was far more than I desired. It was fearful and awesome.

“…and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

I wanted the sweet Jesus-kind-of-fellowship, to be like Him in all good ways, and to have the right to define good.

But God is All good, there is no evil in Him. 

Sharing in His suffering, that unfathomable cruelty Christ lived here among us, was not what I’d been going for. I wanted the gentle Shepherd, not the suffering Servant.

The power of Him terrified me. 

Desire to know God may be partial, but God is complete. He allows trials and tests like lighted candles to shine inside the corners of hearts. And we see what had been hidden. And we recognize what we hadn’t.

He wants us to know Him that well.

To embrace only part of His character is to make Him a God of pick and choose. In utter brokenness His completeness shines.

Like a child climbing over the still form of a mommy on a hospital bed, I found the uncomfortable truths of God uncontainable, too great for me to understand, too wide, too deep and too high.

The knob of surrender opens a door to His Vastness. 

Sofia plops backward like dead weight, she arches her tummy high, her head wiggles against the probes and holes of her mommy. Her golden hair spreads over the pillow. Strands glisten across Charity’s cheek. Little feet cycle against the sheets, pushing and shoving, until Sofia finds a spot of comfort and warmth in the curves of Charity. At rest, she smiles up at me as though this is a good place.

God doesn’t expect us to explain Him, He expects us to know Him.

I smile back at her. Leaning over, I connect with her blue eyes and renew my desire.

“…That I may know Him…”

Photo Credit
Jason Blackeye

12 Replies

  1. Rebecca Thesman Reply

    Thank you, Sylvia, for being so brutally honest about this journey. I ache for you and your family yet I know there is One who will always be your balm.

  2. Beth Menezes Reply

    Thank you for the insight into your journey… You accept His way of conducting Charity’s life; it is a tribute to His power!! Too much else would take over if He couldn’t be trusted/ entrusted with Charity and her family. I imagine the focus to trust/entrust has to be refocused frequently.. and His power leads you again to the safe place of believing/resting. Your journey – your destination: “to know Him”! Thank you for staying the course, despite the the wrenching pain. It hurts to know you and yours hurt, so I go to Him too.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Beth. It has been a journey, and it still is, and I have a lot to continue learning! He is faithful.

  3. Nancy Ross Reply

    Precious sister, my heart aches as I read your post. My husband and I visited with your son and his family in Florence and we’ve followed your family since. We also lived in Overland Park until we moved to San Diego in 1973. If you ever want to make a trip we would love to have you stay with us! We attend David Jeremiah’s church and Marvin retired from the Institute for Creation Research, where he was the art director.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Nancy. Our daughter and son-in-law must have been in language school in Florence at the time. I appreciate your comments and certainly the invitation!

  4. Elise Erickson Reply

    Thanks, my friend, for sharing so beautifully those intimate, difficult moments in the depths of your soul when Charity was in the hospital.
    I was drawn in like a magnet and remembered my own journey during our son’s illness. My life’s verse is Phil. 3:10 and I have been guilty of wanting to know Him the same way you had expressed…pick and choose. You were able to put into words my very attitude. It was so easy to stop in the middle of the verse and omit the suffering part and the death part.
    I will say that when we came to the end of all our excruciatingly painful days, not only had He uncovered so many things that were keeping me in bondage, things I had never seen before but I was able to rejoice because I knew Him in a way I never would have and that meant more than anything else. I was so grateful and thankful. It gave meaning to all we had gone through.
    I love you, Sylvia

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Elise. Phil. 3:10 is also my life’s verse! I remember when we had the opportunity to talk to you in Colorado, and it meant so much to us. We appreciate you both!

  5. Terri Pomajzl Reply

    I’m thankful for the brief time I shared life with your family. Little did I know I was in training for a challenging season in my life. Often as I drive pass Madonna I lift up Charity. And her previous family. God used you to prepare me. It takes gut courage to be obedient to God.

  6. Sylvia Schroeder Reply

    You were a faithful encourager. Thank you for the many visits and help during those days. I’m sorry to read you’ve gone through some challenges as well. I so appreciate your comment and your continued prayers. Thank you.

  7. June Reply

    Sylvia…. I wept to read how God allows us to see His immeasurable goodness in times we think we cannot bear. Keep writing ….you are blessing us more than you will ever know. I think I’ll read it again.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I appreciate your comment so much. Thank you. His immeasurable goodness…yes. I like that!