Sunday, January 13, 2013

Much in a Name

Joseph's story, Part I
Joseph's story, Part II

After the first shocking night of Joseph's life, once we knew he'd made it safely to Children's, we all tried to sleep. It was difficult, fitful sleep with strange dreams and grasping for cell phones throughout the night, wondering if there was any emergent news.

I awoke Friday morning, January 4th, with no thought on my mind except that I needed to be with my Sister. I took care of work the best I could, letting them know I'd be out, and tried to adequately dress myself for a day of wakefulness. The grief and uncertainty and shock was still coursing through my body. I felt I couldn't remain in one piece unless I was doing it for someone else -- my Sister. I had to get to her as soon as my tired body would drag me. Then I could do anything.

Once I got to AAMC, I knew it was a sad morning for Sister, too. She was exhausted and had barely slept, she was recovering from surgery, her baby was out of her reach with no conclusive updates on his condition, and everything was so new and ominous. We knew visitors would be coming throughout much of the day, so she tried to sleep on and off throughout the morning. 

While she was sleeping, I was filled with restlessness. I needed to DO something, but there was nothing I could really do. I couldn't change anything from the past 24 hours. I just needed to be by Sister's side. I decided to occupy myself with the internet. I thought maybe searching the origins of Joseph's name would distract me or give me some threads of hope or comfort. 

I searched many baby name lists until I found one that had a meaning for the name Joseph: 
"he will add."

Interesting. In my confused state I was thinking only of mathematics. Not much comfort in that.

I read on to learn that the name was first introduced in the Bible when Jacob's first son is born to him by his favorite -- and previously barren -- wife, Rachel. No surprise there, the story is familiar to me. I decided to check out the Scriptures surrounding the first Joseph's birth. What I found next utterly floored me. 

Selection from

I was frozen on the spot as the Bible story came alive in my mind, in my life. 

Clever Rachel. I know it was no accident that she had named her son ironically, applying a bit of wit to the emotional occasion. Joseph means "he will add," but it sounds like the Hebrew for "taken away." 

Rachel, when her Joseph was born, had finally received victory after years of anguished attempts to bring a son to life for her husband. When she finally received what she had so longed for, she was still remembering and holding onto everything that she had lost -- the dignity and honor that had been taken away from her by her years of barrenness, or even her struggle brought on by her own father's schemes to supplant her place in her husband's heart. 

Rachel's historic losses were legitimate sorrows, and understandably bitter pains. In her joy, in her triumph, she celebrated! She knew the son she held in her arms was an answer to her prayers, an act of God. But was she still keenly aware of what had been taken away from her for so many years? Or was she expressing that her despair and shame, finally, with this adding of her Joseph, had been taken away?

In a newer Joseph's first day, God had added to my sister another son. His life still hung in the balance, tied to machines and computer monitors and questions. How critical was his condition? How long? When would we know what is wrong and how much it means? Did it change our days? Weeks? Years? Decades? 

Although he was born, we were still groaning in our spirits and begging for God to bring him to LIFE. Lord, may you add to my Sister another son!

Although we had his birth to celebrate, we had our questions to hold, gingerly, seeking answers slowly. What will you take from us, Lord? Will you take from us our expectations and plans? Will you take from us our doubts and weaknesses? Will you take away our sorrows? 

Please, add to our family another son. Let it sound like taking away, a taking away of our sorrows.

Joseph's story, Part I
Joseph's story, Part II