This is a post a wrote in November of 2014 while at the hospital, which I wanted to share with y’all while I work on part 2.
To be human is to have a certain air of invincibility. To acknowledge one’s privilege is to recognize that invincibility, for some of us, myself included, has been given a few extra coats. Some people have that false armor stripped away in one harsh moment. I am not such a person. Instead I am one who bears witness to that which seemed impossible or statistically crazy, things that only happen to other people until they don’t. I am no longer invincible by proxy.
People can get to this point through different avenues, that gift/curse of knowing you are not immune, that it could happen to you, there are no laws of the universe that would prevent that. My mom was the daughter of an FBI agent, that was her path. I understand now why we didn’t have many sleepovers, never had a bunk bead, and didn’t have a car to share until they could find a really safe one. I already warned my husband that if I see one more baby who’s not breathing in the ED, we will be one of those people with a monitor that tells respiration and heartbeat. And while part of not being invincible is having a much fuller range of anxiety than other people have access to, it also strips away false security and leaves only honest vulnerability behind.
When we are no longer invincible… we weigh risks for what they are worth — the opportunity for growth in traveling abroad versus the momentary fun of riding an ATV or jet ski.
When we are no longer invincible… we know that not all fear is equal — there are different chances of things happening and while we do not court danger, we do not live in daily fear of childhood cancer or ebola while letting our toddler run with lollipops or suck on whole grapes. We control what we can control.
When we are no longer invincible… we don’t assume that someone had to do something wrong for something bad to happen — yes, some injury and illness is preventable but some is not. Judgment is another layer of false security. There is less judgment and more grace for much of life’s tragedy. On the other hand, there is still need for education and awareness is a gentle and respectful manner.
When we are no longer invincible… we do not rely on our own strength — there is too much pain in this world to think we can do it on our own.
If I am being honest, I know that I take turns being anxious and being at peace with what I know. Walking around the NICU I sometimes wonder how anybody gets born in one piece. I also know that, even though God can redeem all things in God’s time, much happens in our world that is not God’s will and to no longer be invincible means I will not ever tell someone that death or tragedy is God’s will. We wouldn’t have Easter if that were the case.
This is an uncomfortable place to reside. It is a more truthful and vulnerable place. It is a more cautious place and never a laissez-faire place. It is a God filled place though. There is more room for grace where our own strength has cracked. There is more grace to share. We cannot know it all, we cannot prevent it all, but we can treat the life we have and the lives that have been entrusted to us with care and caution, because we know that we are no longer invincible…