May 20, 2011

the music that got me through

Music has always been very important to me and I often have soundtracks to the different things I do, like driving, cooking, and cleaning. But there was a whole playlist of songs that helped me through the NICU.

James Taylor, Sweet Baby James
Jars of Clay, Valley Song
Jars of Clay, I Need Thee Every Hour
The Beatles, Two of Us
JJ Heller, Little Things
JJ Heller, Your Hands
Sara Groves, Christ Our Joy and Strength
Sara Groves, You Cannot Lose My Love
Chris Tomlin, Our God
B.O.B., Airplanes (I realize it's very different from the others...)

But the song that meant the most - and still does - is the one above:  JJ Heller's My Savior's Love Endures.  I hear the song and I remember sitting in that blue rocker in James' NICU room, patting his back, and singing the song to him.

My soul does magnify the greatness of the Lord. In me His favor lights.  In my Savior I rejoice...

I did not feel like glorifying God or rejoicing in Him.  I did not feel favored.  I felt scared.  I felt tired.  I felt alone.  But when I sang those words I meant them.  I chose to mean them.  I had to believe in something so I chose to believe in Hope.  I chose to have some One to believe in.  I chose to praise.

He has done mighty things, Holy is His Name...

"Yes," I would think, "He has done mighty things and He could do another."  I was not wrong or foolish or childish to hope that He would.  If God would have left James as a boy with severe disabilities that wouldn't have changed the fact that God has done mighty things.  Even if God would have let James die His Name would still be holy.  And so I could trust in Him.  If He's holy then what He wants is Right and Good.  And so if He wanted James to be dead, disabled, or normal then the outcome - whichever one - would be Right and Good.  I'm not saying it was (or is) easy to believe these things, but then again it really, truly was.  I think it's all about picking up a cross but having an easy yoke, a light burden.  I was still carrying a cross - big, heavy, hard - and if we stood back and looked at it we would all agree that it was too much for me to bear.  But when I got under it and hoisted it up I found that I could do it.  I discovered that it fit me well.  It was very, very hard but at the same time it wasn't.

Oh Israel find your help solely in the Lord.  

I have heard mothers of other sick children beg their kids to fight.  And I, too, would ask James to concentrate on breathing or swallowing safely or whatever other hurdle he had to surmount.  But I didn't ask him to fight.  I asked God to fight for him and I asked James to use the strength he was given to get better.  If we put our trust in ourselves we cannot be miraculously healed. 

His mercy's without end, His promise will endure.

I had to remember these things and I had to teach them to my son:
God's mercy is infinite - He is loving and good.  He looks on NICU babies and parents with great tenderness.  He holds us in His righteous right hand.  He places us in His heart. 
And his promise will endure.  His promise that He is with us, even unto the ending of the world.  His promise that He will never give us something we cannot handle.  His promise that suffering is redemptive.  His promise that He makes all things new.  His promise that those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed.

When the Blessed Virgin Mary first sang those words she was rejoicing in having been chosen to bear a son.  How beautifully humbling to sing them with her.

Glory be to the Father and the Son.  Glory be to the Spirit, three in one.  Glory be in the beginning and the end.  Glory forever, Amen.


  1. "I discovered that it fit me well."

    This sentence was really powerful for me, more than you'll really know. Thank you.