The Thing With Feathers

Column Post by Lakin Easterling

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”
Emily Dickinson

I am relatively new to motherhood. I have a beautiful 22-month-old daughter, Belle. It feels like just yesterday I saw her tiny round fists and soft cheeks and wide eyes peeping at me from above the surgical sheet. She was so happy and curious, and tired. She was mine.

I didn’t sleep for the first three days of her life. I couldn’t; my heart was too full, my mind suddenly empty of everything I’d learned in the previous 22 years of my life. It’s like someone hit a reset button I didn’t know I’d been manufactured with, and I too was born on that dark July night.

I sat in my hospital bed and held her, rocked her, looked at her, rubbed her soft arms and cheeks between my fingers, and watched her sleep. I nursed her and changed her and didn’t want any other person to touch her. She was my little pearl, smooth and perfect as a stone rolled spherical by the sea.

Today, she will take my face in her hands, mumble a strange-sounding sentence, and kiss my forehead. She is snuggly and needy, in motion and independent.

The first few months of her life, I watched her change and grow, and saw too much. I cried for her first tooth, her first steps, her first sleepover, her wedding. I saw the horrors of the world, and I placed her in them, and I wept. I couldn’t stand the fact that I had given birth to someone so pure and perfect and innocent, and that she was doomed to know the pain of scraped knees and broken hearts and funerals and disenchanted dreams.

This world is so broken, full of so many broken people, among whom wander lions and jackals and vultures, looking for those who are ripe for the picking. I couldn’t stand the thought of her being one of the faces on a milk carton. Pools of my tears covered her head like a silent prayer, begging God just please, please, pleasepleaseplease not her… not my baby.

My heart, which flourished in some ways from the beauty and purity of her newness, was being cowed by a thief who stole into my garden and planted cruel, sharp, greedy weeds. He stayed and tended his weeds diligently, pulling up my life-giving fruits to make room for the tumbling wasteland he wanted me to be.

That probably sounds ridiculous, and super emotional, and crazy. I thought I was. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I lashed out at my husband, my best friends, my family, and I withdrew into the growing dryness of my own soul. I had no strength to fight. All I could do was hold Belle and pray. I sang her lullabies and soothed her and wrapped my heart firmly in her little hands, so maybe, maybe, I would be safe from further uprooting.

Belle is a shortened version of her full name, Rosabelle. I picked this name for family reasons, but also because the name Rosabelle means noted protector. I thought it would be perfect for an eldest child, a big sister, but I didn’t think about how she would end up protecting me.

As she grew, learning how to roll over and smile and coo, learning how to crawl faster than I could run, she was digging new trenches among the weeds for redemptive seeds. I followed her, and God walked with us, gardening and watering her little life…and mine.

He showed me that in the midst of a broken and dying world, there was room for life and hope that saved the lost and weary. The tragedies and horrific parts of life would not swallow us whole, and would not be able to hold us for forever.

Every new breath that enters this world, every chance for choosing love over hatred, patience over fury, understanding over ignorance, is a seed that supplants the thistles, grows stronger and overpowers, because they are seeds from the gentle and experienced hand of a Father Who let His Son be taken by the darkness so we could have life, abundantly.

 

Lakin Easterling is a wife, mother, writer, and avid reader. She spends her days chasing her toddler, Belle, and conversing with the elderly who are afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. She loves surprise coffee dates with her husband Luke, texting novels to her best friend, Laura Hyers, and being a college student. She dreams about being brave enough to get a tattoo, and believes in the healing power of a good cup of coffee. Her favorite nail polish is Sail Away by Milani. She blogs at http://threadingsymphonies.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

14 thoughts on “The Thing With Feathers

  1. Ummmm….there’s not many comments on this because, well, basically, we’re speechless when we finish reading my friend. You wrap words so raw around hope so fresh. Thank you for the opening of a heart so tender!

    • Jo Ann, you are one of the most encouraging people I have ever met. Thank YOU for being so open to embracing people like me, and bestowing a little of your bright light into our hearts!

    • Thank you, Cindie! I believe that it is BECAUSE of the broken things in life that we are able to see the gems given to us by faith in Christ. Mountains are majestic, yes, but without the valleys to balance them and put them in perspective, we would never know how big and how high and how wide they are. It is the same for the love we have with Jesus. It is hard to remember, when we are in the midst of a valley. Writing helps me to keep things balanced, perhaps it can do the same for you! (:

  2. So beautifully written & expressed from the very heart of a first time mom. As a mother of three, I can testify how important it’s been for me to earnestly protect each one of my children from life’s vicious blows. Through the years, I’ve fallen onto my knees more times than I can count, pleading the Lord to shield my precious kids.

    What God has graciously taught me through my children’s unexpected disappointments, frustrations and heartaches is that He provided them a steadfast mom willing to get down on her knees to fervently pray. Yes, there may have been distressing illnesses, accidents and challenges, which have come our way, but the enemy must know that nobody messes with my kids without a good fight!

    All the while, God is using me, just an ordinary mom, to teach my children about Jesus, faith and the power of prayer. There’s no better occupation on earth than raising up children the right way with the Lord. In years ahead we will reap a sweet harvest!

    • Dana, you speak the truth! I am beyond blessed to be in such a position to help and hold my little girl as she grows, and to teach her about the love of Christ. As much as I don’t want her to know heartache, I am thankful that I will be able to help her through it. Being a mom is one of the greatest gifts of my life, and as scary as it is to be in such a position of influence, I hope that I can do with it and be in it who God wants me to be, in order to help Belle be who she is created to be!

  3. This post has challenged me to write about my sons birth. It was all a bit of a blur to me for the first 5yrs of his life, but God covered it all and people need to know. Thanks for this!

    • Elizabeth, I am so glad to know that sharing my experience resonated in your heart… I encourage you to write with the conviction you feel, and to keep writing it until you can look at it and see the healing that comes from it. Stories are a powerful tool in helping people connect, and I can see from just your brief explanation that you have a great one to share that will touch the hearts of those who will listen. I will be sending prayers of encouragement your way, it is no easy undertaking. But the reward is great, even if only one person is touched by what you say. That’s still a difference made, and will cause great celebration in the kingdom of heaven!

  4. Loved your post, Lakin! It beautifully expresses our mother heart. I’ve often said that I really didn’t struggle with fear until I had children. It’s so true that having a child is making the decision to have your heart go walking around outside your body for the rest of your life. You are completely vulnerable in a way you never have been before. And it’s absolutely a part of HIS plan. It drives us to our knees. It breaks our heart which cannot contain such love. It deepens our understanding of our Heavenly Father. Oh, how He must love to love even more than we do! It stretches our faith as every fear is a new opportunity to trust Him. Is He good? Is He in control? Oh wonderful YES! Is He safe? No…as we all learned in Narnia…”But He is the King, I tell you!” And it….”it”….having that precious little one blow the doors and windows in our world….it changes us forever. The love never stops. The trusting grows. The challenges change from year to year. And it’s all a part of His wonderful plan. His story. And we have get to walk in these glorious chapters.

    • Shelley, I love your perspective on motherhood! I had never thought of my child as being my heart walking around outside of my body, but that is a fantastic and very accurate picture. I love that you mentioned Narnia, too, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Lewis’ Aslan, how the children learn about him and learn with him. Such a beautiful story… thank you for sharing your beautifully creative insight with me on this! (:

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