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I once heard someone say, “Having children is like watching your heart run around outside your body.”

I smiled at the thought as I soaked in the beauty of the moment, watching my two daughters spinning in circles joyfully. 

Yes, I suppose my heart is outside of my body and in the form of two curly-haired, innocent girls. 

But now, years later, this quote has taken on new meaning.

In my son’s 21 months of life, we’ve almost lost him more times than I care to count.

Born tiny and sick, he spent 37 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. And just one month ago when we thought all the troubles were behind us, he spent three days in the Pediatric ICU.

RELATED: I Never Saw the NICU Coming

He’s had IVs in his arms, his feet, and even his head.

He’s had biopsies, ultrasounds, scans, and MRIs.

He’s had blood draws and more pricks than a pin cushion.

He’s seized.

He’s been unresponsive.

He’s been near death. 

So now more than ever, I get it.  

With my heart running around outside my body, it feels vulnerable and exposed.

It feels out of my control.

It feels risky and reckless.

Each stumble, each whimper, each boo-boo, each tear—they all hit me hard.

My unprotected heart feels like it’s going to break. It feels like it’s going to stop beating altogether.

I hold my breath.

I panic.

I worry.

Because now that I’ve learned the frailty of life, especially with regard to my children, there are moments when my heart just can’t take it.

“God, I can’t! I’m not cut out for this!” I want to dissolve into a puddle of tears as the fear threatens to consume me.

RELATED: God Bound Our Hearts Together With Threads of Love

But then I hear God’s gentle whisper . . .

But you ARE cut out for this. I chose YOU for motherhood. I chose you for them and them for you. Yes, this life isn’t without trouble, but I’m here. I’ll never leave you.  Lean into me. Trust me. I carry you all in my hands. And it’s going to be OK. I promise.

So while my heart runs around outside of my body totally unprotected, and while I wrestle with not wanting to keep them protected in perfect little bubbles, I resolve to keep making the decision to trust the One who created my heart.

After all, He loves them, even more than I do.

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Jessika Sanders

Jessika is the founder and president of Praying Through ministries, a nonprofit that aims to equip and embolden men, women, and children with Biblical Truth as they journey through the difficult seasons of the NICU, PICU, and Child Loss. She is also a published writer who has been featured in Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Hope When Your Heart is Heavy devotional (2021), Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. magazine (2022), and Tyndale’s So God Made a Mother (2023). Jessika regularly writes for the Praying Through blog.

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