Holy Scrubs

I learned how to put on scrubs a few weeks ago. I learned what it feels like to breathe under a mask and what it smells like when medicine is coursing in and out of a 2 year old baby’s veins trying to keep him alive. “Oxygen levels falling,” I heard the nurse say.

“Beep, Beep, Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.”
It was a sound I have heard a million and one times on the ER television shows I watch. Flatline. No heartbeat. A lifeless baby laying before my eyes. A daddy, who is labeled a refugee, fearful of the coming minutes, lost in translation. Swahili is what is understood in his mind. English is what is being spoken. My friend, the interpreter, rapidly translating every word being spoken, a dad paralyzed by the reality that his baby is toe to toe with death.

A baby, body full of infection, born in Africa, with a broken heart. A hole in his heart. A body that consistently is against him unless this hole is fixed and it’s unfixable with an infection.

“He heals the brokenhearted and he binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

I drove that daddy home, after a few hours in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He cried all the way back to his apartment. The moments were sacred. An entire family, lives torn apart from war and persecution and famine and drought come to land of the free and home of the brave to find themselves seated in a sterile, white walled hospital room staring at their intubated, broken-hearted, lifeless baby. Sacred moments. Holy moments where Jesus himself comes close to every single heart. Papa’s, Mama’s (who wasn’t there at the time, but you could feel her pain), Caitlin’s, Interpreter’s, Baby’s, Doctor’s, Nurse’s.

That baby’s broken heart was unavoidable. There was a gaping hole in it. Everyone had to acknowledge it because the baby needed to have it fixed. Should’ve had it fixed at birth (as to why he didn’t is another story for another day). But the point is, in that sterile, still hospital room we all sat. Staring at that baby. Hoping for a miracle.

The truth is. This week, that baby died. That two year old baby, took his last breath. His last, broken-hearted little breath. To be really honest, I’ve wrestled with it, a lot. When you hope for a miracle, when you hope for people to encounter the living God, when you hope to see the fullness of a two year old come back to a sense of normalcy…in a selfish sense of it all, I wanted to see a broken heart get healed. I wanted the baby to get all of the meds it needed, test healthy enough for the surgery, get the surgery, and get to see this little nugget have a battle scar and be strong, brave, and healthy.

Hope is a person named Jesus.

But I’m reminded that Jesus comes close. That he will always come close. I’ve been writing about hearts in my blog a lot over the last few months and I’m finally realizing why. Because broken hearts really are unavoidable. Broken emotions and habits and things in life are unavoidable and they need to be acknowledged in order to be healed. Jesus comes close to BIND or HEAL them. I’m not sure what unavoidable, painful thing you have in your life, but Jesus wants to come close to you. The process isn’t too long. It’s not too messy or too hard or too complex. He’s SO pleased with you.

It’s been sweet, this Christmas season, to be the messiest I’ve ever been. I’ve finally released myself to sit in the mess of grief and of confusion and all of the other things I’m currently carrying and just BE with Jesus. Because Christmas is the time to rest in remembering that the star-breather, the heart-creator, the dream-fullfiller covered himself in flesh with sweat glands and boogers and tangly hair just to get close to us so he could love us the best he could and save us the only way he knew how. So he laid, probably freezing cold in the middle of nowhere in some nasty manger because the Inn couldn’t make room for him, born to a teenage Mom who lost her reputation because she was an unmarried virgin…all to live a sinless life, to die on a cross to pay for my broken little heart–for that two year old’s broken little heart. For that daddy’s tears. For our jealousy and business and comparison and idolatry. He paid for it. He did all that just to be close to us. Just cause he loved us.

And I guess in the midst of the twinkly lights and the last minute shopping, I want to challenge us all to sit for a hot second and acknowledge that we really do have the greatest gift of all. We’ve got the presence and grace of God going before us and behind us, covering our tracks, making our crooked places straight and our rough places smooth. He’s too honest and too good to lead us astray and he’s the most joyful and hopeful One we’ve ever known. He’s Immanuel, God with us, forever.

Even in hospital rooms.
With backwards scrubs and shaky knees.

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The Undoing

For as long as I live, I will probably never forget the sound of the chunky, white, rocks shifting beneath my shoes as I walked into the refugee camp that I worked in in Greece. I will never forget the taste of the steaming hot Lipton tea burning the taste buds off of my tongue in 90 degree weather or the smell of the first RHU (refugee housing unit) that I walked in. I’ll for sure never ever forget the greetings I received from the tiny children that rushed me and my friends at the entrance of camp every day: “MY FRIEND, MY FRIEND, come, come, come!”I do not ever want to forget moments like that. 

The God-given, God-placed moments that tear you apart and oddly, put the broken pieces of you back together.

It was my first day in camp and I met the two people who would be the vessels in which God taught me the most. My first friend was in her 40’s and I will probably write about her soon. But my second friend was 8. She was the most beautiful, sassy, determined, and independent little girl I have ever met. This little one reminded me a lot of me. 🙂

I would skim through camp my whole shift looking for her. Most days, I found her…those were the best days. I would sit on a bench with her, under this tree that oddly enough provided a heavenly source of shade. She would talk to me in Arabic, and I would talk to her in English (I learned quite a bit of Arabic from her). We would giggle and tell each other how beautiful the other was and usually she would make me a rubber band bracelet or play with my hair. One day, she sectioned my hair off and put these tiny plastic rubber bands around these slivers of hair..right next to my scalp. Painful, yes. Worth it, absolutely. Another day she sat in my lap and colored a picture with paper on my chest and took the longest amount of time possible doing it because she thought that it was funny. She was free-spirited and hopeful and goofy and she reminded me who I was again, just by being who she was.

Coming into Greece, my heart was really hardened by life. If you follow my blog, you know that this year has been extremely hard, but this little girl was a treasure in the midst of the desert. Jesus used her in the most intimate way to allow me to feel safe to be vulnerable and soft again, to be goofy and belly laugh again, and most importantly, to sit in the midst of my life and my dreams and be so hopeful…regardless of the loss or heartache. She helped bring “me” back again. She was a refugee. She had lost everything and her little 8 year old life had been devastated by war. I related to her in more ways than one. Obviously my life is so blessed….but I learned that we all have loss and in one way or another we are all refugees looking for a place to land.

My time in Greece untangled my heart and allowed the fresh breath of God to touch me again. I came back undone in the sweetest way. God is a little sneaky…using an 8 year old refugee from Syria to bring me to the end of myself. But that’s okay, I’ll take it. It’s the sweetest way, full of the most laughs and tears and clumpy fingernail polish.

I’m forever changed, forever given to Jesus, and friends forever with Miriam.

Thanks, Miriam-for changing my life. Thanks, Jesus for being forever faithful.
**This is a small summary, tiny update, snippet of my trip. This blog post, by no means, encapsulates the entirety of what God did on the trip, nor what I learned in total…but for those of you who want to know more, contact me, I’d love to meet up with you. 🙂 **