Life Lessons from a NICU

October 23, 2023

I recently had my second child, little Thea June, and this transition to two kids has been quite the whirlwind! For starters, Thea was a NICU baby, and while she wasn’t in the NICU for much more than 24 hours, it was so hard to see our baby taken away from us as soon as we had met her. But God revealed his kindness in so many ways during that anxiety-filled hospital stay, primarily through the community he has put in our lives. Now we look back and see that trial as one of the sweetest times of our lives because of how God so clearly met us.

Now that we’re home and trying to figure out life and schedules as a family of four, I wonder how I might look at this somewhat monotonous season and see it as a sweet time as well. Honestly, it can be quite hard! Between making meals, changing diapers, nursing, doing dishes and laundry, picking up toys, wrangling a moody toddler, and getting spit up on–all while not getting much sleep–I can have trouble seeing how God meets me in the mundane. 

My husband took notice of my weary and exhausted spirit. One evening over dinner he asked how I could search for daily glimpses of God’s grace. After a bit of silence, my response was, “Right now, I genuinely don’t know.” That was a wake up call for me. I can usually point out at least something that is an evidence of God’s grace!

Nudged by the Holy Spirit, I decided to go back to a sermon Jared Mellinger had recently preached on Philippians 1:1-11 titled, “A People Shaped by Grace.” Boy, how quickly did I realize where my thinking had gone wrong. Rather than filling my mind with things of Christ and finding my identity in him, I had been occupied by my own self-sufficiency. Relying on myself led to grumbling, increased selfishness, apathy, and many other characteristics that dishonor God and erode zeal. No longer was I looking to see beauty in my dependence on Christ. Instead, my self-reliance was hindering me from partaking in God’s grace.

Looking back, I realized that the time when Thea was in the NICU was a time completely dependent on Christ. I was so aware of our need from him to strengthen our little girl miraculously so she could come home with us and be in our arms. There was truly nothing I could do to help her body transition to life outside the womb. That utter dependence was a great place to be. I was earnestly in prayer, and every little evidence of progress in Thea caused us to praise God for his kindness and filled our hearts with immense gratitude. It’s hard to come to a place of prayer and gratitude if you think you can do everything on your own. And let’s be real, that’s just an exhausting state to stay in!

Christ’s strength can be my strength, but I can only find that strength when I give up my own. How sweet it is to be dependent on him. I’m learning that I can live in that dependence not only in a NICU during an emergency, but in the mundane, God-ordained activities of each day. By opening up about my weaknesses to God and leaning on his strength, God is meeting me, strengthening me, and encouraging me. And I’m seeing his grace everywhere! 

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