Petty Theology

April 18, 2024

               I scribbled out the following thoughts in my notebook last Sunday morning, while sitting (again) in the ER with Elena.  Waiting.  Waiting for yet another doctor to come and shrug their way through my questions.  Waiting for another set of discharge papers.  Waiting to catch my breath.  Waiting for this storm, too, to pass. 

               Tom Petty was no theologian, but the words to one of my favorite of his songs has been my prayer these last few weeks, as I long for the waiting to be over.  I know from over a decade of experience that the waiting, indeed, is the hardest part.  You really do have to take EVERYTHING on faith and you feel EVERYTHING in the heart.  It isn’t even really the anticipation of the storm passing or the fear of the unknown that’s the hardest, though the weight of both of these can feel excruciating.   Rather, it’s the quiet, the silence, the feeling of being hollowed out, the knock, knock, knocking with no reply that dejects me the most, that my building impatience begins to incite toddler-level tantrums between me and my Father.

               The waiting isn’t anticipation, it’s silence-awkward, empty, silence.  It’s me constantly asking God where He is, asking Him for strength to endure yet another sleepless and vomit-filled night with Elena, begging Him for patience to last through another load of 3am laundry, shamefully asking for grace as I snap at every person I love because my brain is bogged down by fatigue and worry.  It’s pleading for mercy, for Him to intercede and take this cup from me and fill it back up.  These conversations that happen a hundred times a day through a hundred muttered prayers become unbearable when they seem to be only to be met with silence and emptiness.

               My track record, however, has always shown that once the waiting is over, it is easy as pie to look back and see God’s provision and answered prayers during that time-but then again, everything feels lighter and more gracious when one doesn’t feel like they are fighting to survive from one day to the next.  I know that we are refined and challenged and grow the most during the silence, the wandering, the waiting, but that only feels comforting once it’s over. 

               In case you haven’t caught on yet, I am currently submerged in a year-plus period of waiting (but who’s counting?!?)  This is a time unprecedented since the early days of Elena’s injury, when we brought home a baby whom we did not recognize. This is, yet again, a time where she feels unknown to me, a mystery, a stranger.  The things I could predict, the things I just knew as her Mom have been erased by what I assume to be (because no doctor can tell us anything) teenage hormones.  There are things happening to her on what seems like a daily basis that causes Chad and I to look at one another, shrug, deal with it and pivot, moving on best we can. 

               Sure, I’m exhausted.  I have moments of hopelessness that this insane instability is our new normal.  I have buckets of tears.  I beg God for just a moment of things staying predictable or steady, just a chance to catch my breath before the next storm hits.  And the silence, the hollowness inside leaves me to wonder if He’s listening or if I didn’t ask articulately enough, or if I’m supposed to be looking for anything other than peace or relief in this.

               But, as a seasoned traveler through the deserts of endless waiting – I know.  I trust.  I believe that it WILL end and the refinement and the perspective of this excruciating time will reveal itself and peace will come to replenish the exhaustion.  Joy will again overpower the grief.  Gratitude will drown out the outrage.  Understanding will supersede all of my questioning.  And I will sing the praises of God’s goodness as I see the trail of provision the current darkness doesn’t allow for.

               Until then, I will abide in what I know to be true and continue my crooning of Tom Petty hits to the One who hears our suffering-

                              The waiting is the hardest part.

                              Every day you get one more yard.

                              You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.

                              The waiting is the hardest part. 

  1. Oh, the waiting! Never my nest trait, yet it passes and I look back and think, why was I so impatient. You are human and you are an inspiration to so many of us. God does listen, He does hear, and He will provide. On this Rock I stand! Love and hugs!

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

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