Every November for the last three years, I’ve gone white water rafting. I strap on the life jacket. Straddle the side of the inflated raft. Shove one foot down into that locked place between side and floor and plunge the other down into cold, swift-moving water. My body shakes. Partly from shivering because I haven’t acclimated to the temperature of the water. And partly from the adrenaline pumping through it. The anticipation of what is to come.
Grief is a river. And November provides the class four rapids. They aren’t life or death. At least not anymore. But the water is white as it rushes. And it includes large waves of bittersweet memories. Long rapids. An unexpected, stomach-lurching considerable drop. And the requirement of sharp maneuvers to stay ahead of the game.
I sat down last week for a quiet time, continuing along in my Search the Scriptures in the Psalms. And was struck by five words:
You satisfy my longing soul.
The Hebrew word for satisfy pointed me in the direction of Proverbs 30:16 and the picture of a well-watered land. For context, I picked up in the verse before. And was overwhelmed with the truth that stared back at me. It was as if I couldn’t breathe and someone came along and stabbed an epi-pen in my chest suddenly opening the passageway for oxygen.
There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say “Enough!”: the grave, the barren womb, the eather that is not satisfied with water – and the fire never says, “Enough!”
It can be all-consuming sometimes, this delayed fertility. Because my body physically reminds me of it every couple of weeks. But my heart reminds me of it every single day. When we gather together with friends and are nearly outnumbered by their children. My heart aches that none of them are ours. And then the list is triggered in my brain of all the things that make my heart ache. And I have to stop myself. I cannot go down that trail. I cannot sit in the sorrow.
But still – my heart longs for something that my body has not yet been able to produce. For 117 months. And I feel like I can finally breathe when I realize that God’s Word itself says that the barren womb is never satisfied. As if something that has gone undiagnosed finally has an answer. That I’m not crazy. Or simply discontent. Or have my priorities wrong. Or unable to stop thinking about it. But that really, there is a hunger deep down inside of me that is insatiable. A craving that cannot be satisfied. One that I try to compensate for. By living vicariously through my own life. By traveling. And adventuring. And checking off bucket list items as if I had a life-altering diagnosis.
I don’t. But I do have the double-whammy of still reeling from losing my best friend. And continually reeling from delayed fertility. And when the two happen to cross over? I’m suddenly staring down a class four rapid.
That happened this weekend. I had found a slow patch of the river and dressed up in white and gold to celebrate a friend and her baby-girl-on-the-way. As the celebration began, a close friend of hers read a beautiful toast she had written. And then another letter was read. One written by her very best friend who was an ocean away. She wasn’t able to make it to the shower, but had sent something ahead. And I hit the rapids hard. Frantically trying to celebrate with every single word because it was so, so special. And simultaneously doing everything I could think of to make some sharp maneuvers that would swallow down the tears and prevent the ugly cry right there in the circle of celebration.
I had to check myself in the day-after. To not settle into the sadness. To recognize the craving for what it was and stop myself from trying to fill it with something else. I needed to acknowledge the fact that I am constantly trying to reward myself. To high five myself. To give myself something to look forward to. To satiate the insatiable. And understand that all those other things are like
trying to fill my stomach by swallowing air
The Hebrew word for longing in Psalm 107:9 is also used to describe a charging bear in Proverbs 28:15. And when that craving for a child hits, or the longing for one more conversation with my best friend comes up, it’s worse than being hangry. Because it breaks something in me. And leaves jagged edges that I sometimes want to keep sharp so that someone will brush up against them and feel pricked and somehow see the pain that I feel. But that never happens. People just see the sharp edges and the pain from their own wound that resulted from it. So I need Him to soften the jagged edges. LORD please… soften my jagged edges.
The other time that Hebrew word for longing is used? In Isaiah 29:8 – in reference to a thirsty man. A man so hungry and so thirsty that he dreams at night about eating. And drinking. And satiating the insatiable. But when he wakes up, his soul is still craving.
I dream about my babies.
Regularly. I dream about finding out that I’m pregnant. I dream about a giant belly above the water line of a bath tub, waiting to go into labor. I dream about setting them up in a chair by the window for their first newborn photographs. I dream about them. All the time, I dream about them. And when I wake up… they aren’t there. And my soul still craves.
I’ve dreamed of Shawna. And at the end of each dream, I have to leave. And I beg her to come with me. And she can’t. And I wake up. And she’s not there. And my soul still craves.
But God. Oh, but God.
He satisfies my longing soul, and fills my hungry soul with goodness. Just like He did with David. Who also had a dream. And God said no. But He also filled his hands. With gold and silver and bronze and iron and cedar wood and onyx stones and glistening stones of all different colors and with all kinds of precious stones and with marble slabs. David craved a building project for God. And He said no. But He filled David’s hands with gifts abundant that would fulfill his dream in a different way. 100,000 talents of gold. And one million talents of silver and bronze and iron beyond measure. To build His house. For His glory. And so I pray. If my precious stones are words in abundance, LORD … let them be so. Satisfy my longing soul by filling my soul with goodness. Good words of truth that soften these jagged edges. And bring glory by describing the light that You shine brightly into my darkness.
fill my hungry soul with goodness
For Your glory. Amen.