As I knelt in prayer at church this past Sunday, I pondered Brigid’s death, as I have done every second of each day since it happened.
Specifically, I thought about God as our Father and the giver of every good and perfect gift, who tells us that if we as parents know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will he give good gifts to us if we ask him.
And I wondered: What about this? How is this a good gift?
I’ve told our boys that just because Brigid died, it does not mean that God didn’t hear our daily prayers for her to grow big and strong and come home to live with us. “Sometimes,” I told them, “God tells us no just like sometimes Mommy tells you no when you ask for things.” They accepted that explanation…but I wasn’t so sure I did.
We all tell our children no when there are things that they want that are not good for them, but as a mother, I tried to imagine the circumstances under which I could possibly tell my children no for something that would break their hearts as much as Brigid’s death has broken ours. Why would I tell them no for something that would make them happy? What would have been the harm in allowing us to bring our healthy daughter home to live with our family? Especially after we’d already lost her sister.
I racked my brain for an example.
It came.It involved chocolate. And I realized that it all has to do with perspective.
I imagined myself baking in my kitchen. I love to make special things for my family, and I imagined I was making an extra special dessert treat for the birthday party of one of my boys. Only he didn’t know I was doing it for him.
He comes into the kitchen where I am standing and asks if he can have a few of the chocolate chips that are on the counter. Because I need to use them for the dessert, I tell him no.
Being the young child he is, he is devastated. “Please, please, please?” he pleads.“Trust me,” I say. “No.”
He falls to the floor crying and kicking and screaming. But I do not change my answer. Instead, I lovingly pick him up, give him a hug, and tell him to go and let me work. He doesn’t know it, but within a short time, I’ll have used the chocolate chips to create something extra special for his party, and I know that he will love it. This is why I can be a loving parent and yet be unmoved by his pleas.
And then I thought about this example in terms of my perspective on our situation.
To a young child, my denying him the treat that he wanted was devastating. But as his mother, I knew I had a plan for it that was far better. I knew his tears would be short-lived, but that he’d appreciate the final product much more than the chips by themselves.
To him, the few hours until the party seemed like an eternity. But to me, it was just a brief wait that was worthwhile for the celebration that was to come.
The small chocolate chips would have been a treat for him and they would have made him happy, but the special dessert would serve many more people and benefit him as well as others.
I have to think that our Father, with his infinite knowledge, sees our situation in much the same way that I, as a mother, see things in relation to our boys.
Our wait to see Brigid and Fiona again is nothing more to him than a little boy’s wait for his birthday celebration. But oh, the celebrating will be so much greater. The pain of being denied our request feels profound and deep; our tears will flow for months instead of minutes. But to our Father, this is but a short-lived trial. Our girls would have enriched and blessed our family had we been able to bring them home to live with us, but incorporated into his plan, they have been used to affect so many others.
Many of you might never have known about our twin girls were this not the plan. And I’m pretty certain that none of us will ever be the same again. We prayed and we rejoiced and we prayed and we cried. Our prayers brought us to our knees in the middle of the night. They drew us in close to the God who was in control of this situation from the very start. They came from Australia and China and Hungary and Canada and Scotland. They came from people who were prayer warriors and from people who had never prayed before. They brought glory to God because they made us acknowledge the frailty and wonder of life and realize that there is a power greater than us at work.
To know that our girls may have been used as part of God’s plan for someone else is humbling. Our faith has not been shaken by their death. Rather, it has been toned and stretched and strengthened. We have been brought to the end of ourselves and found that He still gave us the strength to go on. Our prayers for Fiona and for Brigid were really for our benefit too. The act of praying for them tested us and helped us to grow stronger. And though God chose to answer our prayers with “no,” our prayers were not in vain.