Newness always makes me nervous.
It’s the lack of a crisp definition that undoes me. I like to have a firm grip on things and I can’t grasp what I can’t see, I can’t get a good hold when I don’t know where the definites are.
Lately, I have been living in a season of blurry edges.
My natural instinct is to draw lines, to create something that I can hold on to. I feel overwhelmed without a guiderope, like I am off course in uncharted waters.
The night I turned thirty-four I drove to the emergency room with my fourteen-month-old son.
My husband had been cooking steaks for my celebratory birthday dinner and I went to soothe a fussy baby only to find a pool of blood in his diaper.
Typically I am the calm one in chaos but that night my sister made all of the calls, speaking directions surely over the bluetooth as I drove single-mindedly towards the hospital. All I could think was, “He only has part of his kidney left.” And it terrified me, thinking of how less than a year before a surgeon had drawn a scalpel across his side and stitched it back shut only after taking out a portion of an organ.
They have matching scars, curved around their sides and across their backs, hers waving just below her shoulder blade and his around the small of his back. Flesh and blood of mine means we were all cut deep, no one in a family bears scars alone.
The surgery was supposed to fix the problem, there was only a slight chance that it would uncover a different issue but chance turned to fate and the conversation is peppered with things like, “Ridley’s risk factors are…”
At the Children’s Hospital a couple of weeks later I pinned him down for the tests over his screams. I’ve done this four times now in his short life, held his arms above his head while we watch the dye travel in a loop on the black and white screen, and I think I know.
We leave the doctor’s office with an utter uncertainty. If this happens again then he’ll have to have another surgery. If it doesn’t then we keep returning to the tests, to watching the dye in high-contrast above the machine we slip him into.
I know it isn’t the worst of results but.
It’s the uncertainty that leaves me feeling completely undone.
I can’t plan for uncertainty. I can’t steel myself for the inevitable return of the scalpel or sigh in relief to know it’s back in its sheath. I simply don’t know one way or the other how things will unfold and it’s exactly that which leaves me shaken.
I like to control things and I can’t control what I can’t see coming.
My temptation is always to try, to latch on to what I can control because control feels like comfort.
I’ll create an illusion of it and then I will cling tightly to that illusion for some semblance of assurance.
But it never really works because illusions aren’t real.
And a facade of assurance is never going to replace a blessed assurance.
All of my carefully manufactured control will fade and I’ll still be left with the unknown.
Hebrews 11:1 says,
To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.
I am partial to the Message translation, which literally says, “It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”
It’s what we can hold on to in the unexpected.
Like an anchor.
Safe and secure.
Newness always makes me nervous.
I am so grateful for a grace that is indelible, one that is safely within reach when I need to be steadied.
A note: It has taken me weeks to write this as I let all of my emotions surge and settle. As I was searching for an image to use in this post, I came across this image of an anchor and saw that the photographer’s name was listed as “Andrew Ridley.” I so rarely come across my son’s name that it seemed to me a small moment of providential comfort as I began to write.
Additional photography by Ashley Mushegan