What is your yield?
There is something so humbling about sitting in a hospital room next to my child’s crib. I had plans, all kinds of plans. I had the weekly dry erase board filled with all of our activities, dinner menus, play dates. I had just spent the day before stocking the fridge with a week’s worth of pre-made breakfasts, lunches, and dinner-starts. And then, Sam started to cough a little on Monday afternoon. Tuesday—the day we took Sam to the ER because his oxygen saturation dropped to 75%–I had thought I could squeeze in a quick checkup for him at the pediatrician’s while Bram was in preschool. The appointment was scheduled at 9:15. At eleven, I was picking Bram up when Jack texted me, “Sats 75, just called Children’s.” At noon, Sam’s oxygen continued to drop in the ER as Jack and I held his little hands up so that they could X-ray his chest. By the afternoon, we were wondering whether or not he would have open heart surgery the next morning, after an emergency cath that night. There was no date night, no play date, and the food I had prepared ahead for my family sat untouched in an empty house.

I yield to this new reality, to Sam covered in wires and on oxygen. I become the mother of a different brand, one who sleeps (not really sleeping at all) next to her son in the Cardiac ICU while he screams and tries desperately to free himself from the tangle of leads and IVs and pulse oximeter. I yield, giving up my privacy, my authority, my dominion to nurses and doctors who know more about what my son needs than I do. I cancel a dozen plans: plans to go on a girls’ weekend, plans to attend bible study . . . plans in normal land. After discussing Sam’s condition with the doctor’s, we pull his brother out of preschool for the remainder of the year.

I ask the ER staff for a Bible. God brings a chaplain; she leads us in prayer, and Jack and I lay hands on our son, along with his nurse, and pray. I read to Samuel all the brave stories of his name’s sake. I read him the 23rd psalm; I play him lullabies. When no one’s around, I cry. I yield, I yield, I yield.

I am humbled by this yielding, this upheaval of my life I call motherhood. This deep calling to mother three distinct human beings has taken me down roads I may never have ventured on my own. I struggle to remind myself continually that although I feel that this is my life and my plans and my will that surrenders to the realities of stillbirth and brotherly love and growing pains and cardiac anomalies, that in the end, this is their story. I am the helper chosen to hold their hands through each of their journeys. I am their helper, for only a time.

Right now they are running around the living room in their pajamas, “powing” each other’s cars, oblivious to my many worries and task lists and the play date we declined for this morning. They may never realize what was required of their father and I to walk beside them, to protect them, to humbly yield all that we had envisioned for our family, and trust in a God who sees the whole picture and how each of our boys will live out their callings once they are beyond our grasp.

I look up the word “yield,” and am surprised by the many definitions. Right now, I am yielding, definition 3:)to give up possession of on claim or demand as a: to give up (as one’s breath) and so die; b: to surrender or relinquish to the physical control of another; hand over possession of; c: to surrender or submit (oneself) to another; d: to give (oneself) up to an inclination, temptation, or habit; e: to relinquish one’s possession of. In other words, I am giving up control, possession of my time and my agenda and my plans for the summer. I am dying again to myself, to my need for control and security. I am trying myself to relinquish my children again and again to their Maker, which literally requires me to be kneeling beside a sleeping Sam’s crib with my hands in the air praying, “I submit, I submit.” And I still can’t sleep.

As Ann Voskcamp would say, this is the “hard eucharisteo.” This is the moment when I want to take my baby and run from the docs and the hospitals and the ultrasound machines, hold him forever, and save him from it all. This is the moment when the fear chokes to gagging. And this is the time to remind myself that God is for us (Romans 8:31), that He will never stop doing good for us (Jeremiah 32:40), that He is with us (Psalm 46:7), and that there is no where we can go where His love and His presence won’t abide (Psalm 139). I submit to giving thanks for the uncertainty and for the fear, knowing I am being molded even through this pain.

Oddly, the first and last definitions of “yield” seem so contrary to my yielding: 1) recompense, reward and 4) to bear or bring forth as a natural product especially as a result of cultivation. So what is this recompense, this reward to be brought forth from my yielding? What is God cultivating as life hoes and tills the soils of my family and my heart? I don’t know. All I know now is that it is difficult to imagine a harvest worth this heartache and Samuel’s suffering. But then I am reminded: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:26-17).

I am laying our Samuel on the altar, in full submission and brokenness, trusting in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bring forth a harvest from this yielding. And I am trusting in an eternal glory. Glory.

What is your yield?

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Newborn Sam and I in the Seattle Children’s NICU, August 2011