I toast a sourdough muffin golden, two halves, and slather them with butter and mounds of strawberry freezer jam.
I love the color of strawberries mashed in the making.
And red, to me, is the color of hope.
I steep a cup of Earl Grey Green, inhale the fragrance of bergamot, and settle at the table.
The hummingbirds have gone, I think. And I’ve seen geese fly in V’s. The ashen sky hangs heavy while soybeans brown and leaves fall to lie all wet and matted on the gravel.
Life is sacrificing, seeding itself.
Yet there’s color in the changing, in the dying.
The earth’s getting ready to pull up its blanket.
To rest and gather strength.
For the first time, I’m looking forward to winter.
I crunch and sip, and I remember ashen days.
When after months of tests and corrective surgeries, life finally seeded and grew.
When I stood in front of the mirror and imagined my body changing, taking on a new shape.
When I hummed and patted my tummy.
When I smiled as I caressed soft blues and pinks and bought a new flowing top.
When my heart danced with every hint of nausea.
When I ignored—denied–my doctor’s concerns.
And when I almost died as red slowly seeped into my belly.
Until one morning I was so tired.
So. Very. Tired.
Worried faces hover around my bed.
Someone removes the color from my toenails.
Someone else tries several times to start fluids in my arm.
My husband strokes my forehead.
And my pastor comes to pray.
I wake up to be told that I’m forever changed.
But that my body itself will never change to see life grow or feel it move.
Why God? Why place this desire in our hearts and let us walk through all the doors that led us here?
And part of me dies.
But there’s color in the changing, in the dying.
I pull up the hospital blanket.
And two days later, I curl up in the green chair with the Word.
To rest and gather strength.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles . . .~2 Corinthians 1:3-4a (NIV)
There’s a commotion in the hall.
A gurney rattles through the door accompanied by two nurses.
They help the ashen-faced teenager into the other bed. Then they leave, and she cries softly.
I go to her, and she sobs. Her baby grew in her tube, too, and her parents don’t know she’s pregnant. Was pregnant. But they’ve been called. Her boyfriend’s on his way.
Red spills into her belly.
I hold her hand and stroke her forehead as they come to strip her color and start her fluids.
. . . so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ~2 Corinthians 1:4b (NIV)
Months later a miracle seeds and grows in another’s womb and brings life to me.
And something dies within her.
Lives forever changed.
I nibble a strawberry-topped muffin and sip my tea and ponder this.
Because this gift took us places we’d never dreamed we’d go, to see things we never wanted to see.
And the pain was almost too great to bear. Why God?
But sometimes we’re mashed in the making.
And there’s color in the changing, in the dying, in the growing.
There’s seeding in the sacrifice.
And wherever He leads, there’s hope.
This was a guest post last year for Emily at imperfect prose. I’ve dusted it off a bit to link with Ed Cyzewski’s synchroblog connected with the release of his and Derek Cooper’s new book, Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus in both paperback and Kindle editions.
Do you have your own Hazardous Faith Story? You can share it here: My Hazardous Faith Story.