He was there. Welcoming me in the Tennessee hospital, the cold Christmas when we had no power, and playing with my sister Katie and my friend Lacey in our backyard. But I stepped out of the crowd, held up my four year old hand, looked him in the eyes and smiled, “It’s nice to meet you Jesus” at such a young age.
He was always there: in my school days, sleepovers, bad haircuts, and writing sentences for talking in class. I welcomed him to come along with me and I did my very best to make him feel welcomed. I was pretty good at being good.
And then I grew up.
I married a handsome, kind man. And then all our dreams came true. It was all surreal, I felt so silly telling people I was pregnant. I was sure I would wake up from that wonderful dream. But my tummy got bigger and people praised my big belly on my then smaller than ever body.
I was nervous my whole entire life since the day I was educated on giving birth to a baby. But the day my daughter came into this world was nothing short of a miracle in so many ways. That day was one of the best days of my life! That is only possible because of the amount of love that flooded my heart the first time the nurse laid that tiny life in my arms. Perfect beauty. Praise Jesus! Oh, how we praised him and gave thanks!
The following three and a half months were the best of my life. I spent my entire day holding her tiny soft cheek to mine and singing, singing every song I could think of.
“There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven and I’m gonna be there…”
“This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice…”
“Rise and shine and give God the glory glory…” And she lit up. My baby laughed and laughed. Over and over and again and again, I sang, as we soaked up her first true giggle.
We wanted her to know the Jesus that we loved and followed.
Then, it all changed.
I sat holding three and a half month old Madison, doing my best to comprehend what my mind refused to let in and trying my best to keep from falling apart then and there, “This may not be as easy as we had thought. Madison needs to be tested for your cancer gene. If she is negative, she will never have to see a doctor about this again. But…if she is positive…she will have surgery around the age of four and then we will follow and monitor her for the rest of her life…There is a genetic test. We will take some blood work but the results will take some time.”
For the first time in my life, I turned to Jesus and yelled at him, “No! Why would you do this to me?! I thought you loved me?! I hate you! Go away!”
There is a deep deep pain. It can not be explained. Words have never been found that explain the hurt and the agony when a parent fears for their child. I could not face the possibility of my daughter having cancer.
At the time, I was a ten year survivor of cancer. I had given. I had hurt. I had trusted. But nothing compared to this.
This is the first time in my life that I doubted God. I looked at this thing called faith and wondered if Jesus had ever been there. But when I turned away from Jesus, I faced nothing. There was a darkness and a void. I wanted to lay in his loving arms and sob.
And I did.
Without Jesus, I had nothing to offer my daughter. No other religion gave me hope. No other god cared. Myself as god? I was utterly useless and helpless.
James and I literally got on our knees. I can explain it no other way than to say that we sobbed and begged God for the health of our baby.
I turned to Jesus and fell into his arms. He was nothing but understanding and loving. He had always loved me. Even then. He was there. He had never left me. He never scolded me for yelling at him. He understood. He knew pain like no other. And he loved me. And he loved my honest questions and my honest tears.
And I realized, he loved Madison. He loved my daughter, even more than me.
I will never forget the day, July 30, 2007. After almost three months of waiting, I received the call, “Madison tested negative. She never needs to see a doctor about this ever again.”
I turned to my Jesus and I gave him a hug.
He is mine and I am his.
My miracle is about to turn eight. Her Daddy and I are bound to each other with a love only believed to exist in fairy tales, and I daily live life beyond what I ever dreamed of or hoped for.
I am a sinner. I am addicted to sin. I love this world and beautiful things. I get sick. I am not so good at being good anymore. I love a fresh craft beer. I curse. I drink more coffee than I should. I have learned the hard way not to judge others. I never say the right thing.
What if I never knew Jesus? What if I never turned and faced him and said “Nice to meet you.” What if I never invited him on my life journey? What if I never had a fight with him and wrestled with my faith? What if I did not love my husband through him? What if I did not teach my daughter of him?
Some say that religion is just to give me hope. If so, if you are right, what have I lost? Because I do, I do have hope. But what if you are wrong? The proof of burden falls on the unbeliever.
Some say there is no God, but I have met him! I know him! He has been there with me, always! He is the only one that has never failed me.
Allow me to introduce my best friend. I have known him since I was four. We have been close for so long. He saved my life. His name is Jesus.