all the things · christian thought

on loss and hope

Baking is a cathartic release for me. The mixing of flour into a hodgepodge of ingredients, the kneading of the newly formed dough, the patience required to wait as the dough rises, and then the intoxicating smell of baking bread all leading to the joy that is breaking bread. It’s always best to break bread with others, but sometimes, I can’t help myself as I dig my teeth into the delicious english muffins as I stand alone in the kitchen.

I didn’t always stand alone. There used to a white fluffy bichon frise who would parade around my feet, sniffing and licking up crumbs, often to my annoyance as I tried to high step around her. We brought her home one December afternoon from a local shelter – an early Christmas present from my brother. We couldn’t wait to love her. She, on the other hand, was absolutely terrified. A young 9 years old, she had been abandoned by her owners who could no longer care for her. We were eager to fill that void.

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After weeks of biting, and trips to the vet, we fell into a new rhythm of taking care of each other. Weeks turned into months, which turned into years. Over time, her age caught up with her. A bladder stone surgery left her no longer as playful; her toy carrot lingered in the corner collecting dust. Long walks became exhausting.

Then one fall day, we discovered we were pregnant with our first child. Excitement filled us on the prospect of expanding our family from 2.5 to 3.5. Yet, we were also fearful – our cute fluffy white doggy had never shown warmth toward children. Rather, the same trepidation she expressed when we first brought her home revealed itself whenever she encountered a little person.

We knew a tough decision lay in our future, but we put it off.

The following summer, our child was born, and our furry child, no longer the favorite, slunk into the corner of our couch, tussled up our pillows, and slept, not certain what to do or what to make of the tiny human now residing in the house.

That tiny human started growing oh so quickly. She started giggling, reaching, rolling and eventually crawling. The months of conversations quickly evolved into anxious questions on what to do with our Angel.

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After many failed attempts to find a new home for our elderly 13 year old doggy, our dog who held a disdain for other animals and young children, and who needed such care, we took her to the vet one Tuesday afternoon and she entered her final slumber. Over the weekend, she was given a fresh hair cut, with two cute green bows in each of her ears, a treat for every day we had left with her, and lots of snuggles and walks. That Tuesday, we took her to her favorite park, had a picnic lunch and one last walk all in hopes that she could go to sleep happy.

We hope she forgives us. But, we trust we did what was best for her little body.

By the end of the week, I ended up having a battery of tests performed. Finding a rash on my right breast with a lump underneath lead to my first ever mammogram and ultrasound, followed by a visit by a breast surgeon on the next Monday. Thankfully, no cancer was found, but the loss of my youth lingers in the fear.

That weekend was marked by another loss. All of this took place on Holy Week, as we mourn the loss of Jesus’s life, but rejoice in His resurrection. It couldn’t have been more appropriate timing.

We will see our fluffy white doggy again. She will be restored. She will love our sweet baby girl. Her health will be exceptional – no longer needing medicine, a special diet, or her cone.

My body will be restored. Not knowing what is wrong currently is yes, scary, but our bodies are fallen too. I have hope that it may fail me in this life, but it will be healed for eternity.

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And more than that, my sins are no longer mine. Jesus bore them on the cross so that I can live now with that hope. So even in the midst of loss, hard decisions, and scary uncertainties, I have hope.

I might be baking bread alone now in my kitchen, but I can sing a song in my heart and wear a smile on my face as I look out onto the Spring day from my kitchen window.

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