Making Peace with Hannah (Sept-Oct 2009)

By Matt Dabbs

by Amanda Sanders
September – December, 2009

Inside OutDear Hannah,

While we have never met, Someone we both love led me to you. I suppose I should begin with an apology. You see, I read over your story many times before I had children. However, I’ve only looked at it a few times since becoming a mother. To be honest I felt great anxiety when I read about you giving your little boy away.

I just couldn’t understand. You wanted him so badly and prayed so desperately to have him. How could you abandon him to people you didn’t even know? I found myself furious with you. If you had really truly loved Samuel, you would have died of a broken heart. Wouldn’t you? Neither would you have broken out in song or went on to have many more children. Good mothers do not give up their children; even for God. Of this I was certain.

I often wondered why your story haunted me. I was uneasy with my anger at someone who lived so long ago. You are a hero of faith. I would think of you often and then promptly push such thoughts out of my life. After all, your situation had nothing to do with me. Still our mutual Friend kept bringing you up despite the fact that I was no longer interested in hearing about you.

Not until after I had my first child did I begin to review my own heart toward you. Zane was a vibrant little boy; full of laughter and funny words. He was my sunshine. Then a few years after his birth he stopped laughing. He stopped talking. Eventually, he stopped understanding. After several tests and lengthy silences from the specialists we were handed the word that would change our lives…Autism.

Our little boy, who was once playfully adventurous, was replaced by one who had become angry and scared. The unpredictability of daily life was too much for him to bear. We had other children and they, too, did their best for Zane. We each tried for many years to make the world conform to Zane. In the end, Hannah, we were not able. Decisions were made during surreal conversations. We learned a new vocabulary of pain. Nauseating phrases like “What is best for everyone” and “residential treatment facility” were now part of our lives.

The week Zane went away I could barely function. I was on autopilot. Scared to death that he was going to live in a new home and even more terrified that he wouldn’t. I was on my knees, praying and crying. I pleaded with God to help me survive for I could make it no further. I needed something, anything God could give me. I got out my Bible, opened it up, and peace settled over me as the pages fell open to your story. A lifetime of urging from my Father suddenly made sense. Of course, Hannah!

This time I read without my usual condemnation. I stood, not from the sidelines of history, but in your shoes. I too had prayed for a child to love. I had been blessed by God just as you had. I was finally able to see you as a person for the first time. I read your story with different eyes and came to know your heartache and your fears. Now I could understand that sometimes in order to give our children life, we have to let them go. I hurt for you and wondered how I would muster the faith to do what you did that day, to walk away from my child with both a breaking heart and thankful soul.

Zane would be near me. I was still his mom. He would sleep somewhere else, but my job to protect him would be the same. My duties would change but my role would not. But you Hannah….you walked a more difficult path. You would see your baby once a year, God willing. No phone calls or lunch dates would be scheduled. From skinned knees to teen angst, you would miss it all. He would grow into a man and you would have to trust; trust that he was safe, loved and nurtured. Trust that God’s plan for your Samuel was bigger than the two of you.

Hannah, I think about you often as I walk this path. I wish I could sit with you and talk. Perhaps you would give me a road map to this disorienting grief; perhaps a check list of stages to mark off in hopes of never having to repeat them. I long to hear another mother say “It will get easier” or “It will never stop hurting.” The unknown looms so large.

I feel set apart from others. It’s different now. Grief has seared me down to my soul. I wonder how you did it. Were you always faithful? Were you always sure that God would heal your broken heart? What did you do with your pain? What will I do with mine?

I understand now, Hannah. Leaving your little boy that day was the most gut-wrenching thing you ever did. Every step took all the love you could muster for your child….and for your God. The days that followed are, to me, where your story really begins. Your faithfulness and willingness to walk with God is humbling. You knew the LORD gives and the LORD takes away, and still you blessed His name.

Your Samuel went on to do great things for the Lord. What will become of my Zane? Hannah, do you think he will do the same? I tell myself every day that God will use my pain. God will use Zane’s pain. He will bring healing from the ashes. But I am no “Hannah” today. There is no song in my heart, only sadness for you and for me.

I pray that God will make me faithful like you; that He will fill my heart with joy. I want my legacy to be laughter, encouragement, and faithfulness to the Father. Your story, the one I have run from my whole life, I now embrace. I want it to be mine too.

“So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the LORD for him.’ … After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh. When they had slaughtered the bull, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, ‘As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD. I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.’ And he worshiped the LORD there.” ~ 1 Samuel 1:24-28

New Wineskins

Amanda SandersAmanda Sanders is a stay-at-home mother of three. She and husband Greg live in Conway, Arkansas, attending University Church of Christ. She can be contacted through her Web site, [http://amandasandersblog.net] and by email, [amandasanders1995@gmail.com].

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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