Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Praying Through A War Wound

I realized that I'm having a hard time praying for Miss Emma because I'm a former NICU Mom. You think it would make it easier, but its harder sometimes.

It's like I've got this hidden scar tissue, that I don't even know is there until I start using that muscle in prayer. First, I realized Emma's accident violated my unspoken contract with God. I was totally cool with accepting that every time I got pregnant in the future, I was going to struggle with anxiety that a birth defect would land us back in the NICU. That is a hard struggle, but I took a false comfort that my intense anxiety would only be for a"fixed moment in time."

Emma's situation highlights that a serious health concern can happen to any of my children at any moment in time. A Life and Death trip to the ICU isn't simply limited to the time they are fragile newborns. I'm so not cool with that, God! Ugh, I need to revisit that "Jesus, I trust in you" Physical Therapy schedule again.

Secondly, it hurts my heart to see people not pray for Emma. I was in a situation where I called it "spinning plates." There were two people who were standing next to me when I asked them to pray for Emma. My request made them massively uncomfortable. Rather than say, "Wow, this situation is really scary, I'm not sure I want to talk about it." They started what I called "spinning plates." The conversation jerked around into some really strange directions, the two of them tossed around different plans and ideas that had nothing to do with prayer, and I felt rushed out of their presence as quickly as possible.

I felt awful. My first thought when I got back into my car was "God, please don't let Maureen feel like I did!" Where did that come from? Why was this suddenly about me?

 I realized only later that this is the opposite angle of the abandonment I felt when my daughter Tess was in the hospital. I feel so ungrateful writing about this--because I know God was with me! It's just this father wound I have. There were men that before Tessy's sickness I had as father-figures to my soul. When they didn't show up or call during her hospital stay--I just assumed they physically didn't know that I need them. So when I see avoidant behavior worked out in front of your during a PICU prayer request--even though it has nothing to do with my own child years later--it hurts my heart.

After the "spinning plates" episode, I couldn't solicit anymore prayer requests or even create a Facebook page for a few days.

But today I'm back. Emma's got her cross to carry today. I've got mine. My job is to love on my babies and my spouse as best as I can, be gentle around this hidden war wound, and trust that all of this emotional pain brings great Glory to God when carry our hidden crosses for Him and with Him.


  1. Sick children can leave a type of Post Traumatic Stress issue later on. It shows up when you least expect it. I felt mine came back hard core with David's diagnosis (he was a twice PICU baby). Like, "It's not over...and now, it will never be over". The key comes to abandonment. That is to say, whatever happens, it's accepted. Yes, we pray for healing. Always. At the same time, we have to be open (which is almost sometimes harder when praying for others) to the other possible aspect. Not healing. I think this is where people run into a lot of trouble. Because it's painful, and we don't understand. Praying for Emma. What a sweet girl.

  2. What I feel happening is that when I carry my own stuff--emotional pain, physical pain, whatever--I start to get less and less judgmental about others actions.

    It's no longer "We should all pray hard for PICU kids", or "why isn't our church more encouraging with prayer"--but it's more like I realize

    "prayer is hard work," I understand why people don't want to do this often, because I sure as heck hate doing it sometimes--and I'm going to be grateful for the few moments that I can pray, and for the few people who feel comfortable praying with me.

  3. Prayer is hard work, and so is carrying your own stuff! I admire you so much for going through this difficult job. God is preparing you for greatness, I know!

  4. What you said about prayer requests making others uncomfortable.....this is common, for all sorts of reasons. Even people who share a religion aren't always on the same page when it comes to prayer. For some people, it is deeply private, and this is hard to imagine for someone who doesn't see it the same way. So prayer requests can be jarring for some people to get, for reasons that have NOTHING to do with the person requesting them.

  5. Here is a good example of what I meant above, on another blog:

  6. Hello. I admire you so much for going through this difficult job.

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