“Let’s just not expect any miracles, okay?”
That’s what the doctor said to me when I took Nicole in for her final check-up before her surgeries. And it’s the same thing he’s said to me at almost every weekly follow-up appointment since then.
“We’re giving it our very best and only time will tell, but we can’t expect a miracle.”
…Except that I kind of think we CAN.
The line between faith and doubt is so thin, and I’ve seen too many times (in my own life!) that often the only thing that keeps us from crossing over to full-on faith in situations is our own desperate need for self-protection.
The day I brought Nicole home with me her shirt was soaked in blood, her hair all choppy and matted together was absolutely infested with lice, and the rumors about her story from village friends ranged all over the map. “She’s cursed and will never speak”, they said. “She fell off a landslide as a kid and hit her head…her tongue is too short…she’s too traumatized to learn to behave…she’s too violent…there’s nothing you can do”.
But I mean it when I say that I could see it in her eyes- there was more inside of that girl than anyone in the village knew, I was sure of it. By the grace of God, He let me see it. And although it absolutely terrified me and at the same time destroyed every single plan I had for my life at that time, I knew that if no one else would, I could be the one who believes in miracles for her…
It didn’t take long before this warrior girl started shattering expectations. Within a few months she learned to hold a spoon, and use a toilet, and go to sleep at bedtime. She even stopped kicking the dog. This girl they had labeled as “cursed” and “violent” was suddenly hugging everyone who walked in our home and refusing to eat breakfast unless one of us is sitting right next to her at the table.
Right now she enjoys coloring and matching shapes on the ipad and she begs every night to help me cook dinner in the kitchen. She loves her dolls and “reading” her books and playing with the toy trains that her friend Pierce left for her, but if she gets her way she’ll just be outside mixing leaves and dirt and berries all day. She’s really starting to try to speak more and more every day, but no matter what happens, I have a feeling her laugh will always be everyone’s favorite sound.
You see, I know how much easier it is not to expect…not to hope. But every single day we get handed different situations, relationships, and needs in our lives and we get to choose how we will face them. We can choose to only work towards and hope for the outcomes that we know are safe…painless…inexpensive…or make 100% sense- the things we can know for sure will let us come out on the other end scrape free. OR we can put our heart on the line and make some space in our lives for miracles to happen.
When we only hope or try for things that are sure to happen, we leave no room for God to actually show up like we claim we want. When everything we do, or give our hearts to, or allow into our lives in any way, are just strings of perfectly calculated scenarios and risk-free investments, we will ONLY ever get what we planned for. And while that may seem like enough in the moment because it saves us from things we all hate such as disappointment and loss, it also means we inevitably miss out on so much of the territory where God does His very best work.
When the medical prognosis is only 15% survival, are you brave enough to try to fight it? When you can’t make the numbers in your budget work out perfectly but you know God is asking you to do the thing anyway, will you do it? When the marriage or the friendship feels too far gone and you’re both too different now and all you can see when you look is how broken you both are, will you take the easy out when it comes? Because it will come. Or can you hang on long enough for God to rescue what you couldn’t rescue on your own?
God’s “abundantly more than we could ask or think or imagine” usually brings about things like rescue, healing, unity, truth, peace, restoration, financial stability, salvation…and on and on. Those are miracle words. But we wont get there…we can’t get there… if we aren’t willing at times to go against every odd, to take every doubting thought captive in our minds, and step our shaking feet and fragile heart out into miracle territory.
The truth for me right now personally is that Nicole’s surgeries went perfectly, and she has an incredibly talented surgeon and doctor on her side, but there’s still a chance she may never speak or hear properly. Her ears may never heal the way we want and hope they will. The doctor is right when he says that only time will tell. We still have a few more months of waiting and weekly appointments.
And some days, part of me is really terrified to keep hoping. I want to just accept that she will never speak…that I will never hear her say, “I love you too”, or tell me about the first ten years of her life that I missed. But I can’t do it, I can’t give up hope. Because I promised that very first day to be the person in her life who fights for her and believes in miracles for her. That’s who I want to be. For her. And for myself.
So right now we hope. And we pray. And we wait.
Fully convinced that nothing is impossible for our God.