I think that we all have times we struggle. For some, it may be Christmas, Thanksgiving, or other holidays. For others, it may be an anniversary of a loss or a divorce. For me, it is one of my children’s birthdays.
You see, one of my children has multiple disabilities. When he was younger, he was still able to do many of the things you would consider typical childhood rites of passage and achieve the early milestones; they were delayed but achieved.
But as years went by each season and each birthday would come and go and milestones and benchmarks were missed.
But the diagnoses seemed to come one after the other, each time snatching a little bit of hope.
Hope that one day, he would “CATCH UP.”
HOPE that these things too, could be overcome.
Time after time, we would optimistically alter our dreams for him. The same dreams that we all have for our children from the moment we know we have been blessed with a child.
So as major milestones approached and friends celebrated them with their children, I would get ANGRY, so angry! It just did not seem fair! I felt like my child had been robbed! I would say to myself, or even yell out at times, “I should not be worrying about if he will wake up tomorrow, or if when he walks out the door for school, will it be the last time I see him smile? I should be worried about him making it home by his curfew, or if he is hanging out with a good group of friends! That’s what I should be worrying about.”
When my son turned 16, and the kids he had played sports with or was in class with when he was younger were all getting their drivers licenses, and their families were celebrating or posting to Facebook about how proud they were that they had passed their test or their worries and prayers as they hand over the keys, I struggled. When he turned 18, and all those same kids and families were beaming about their child’s accomplishments in high school, their college visits, scholarships, and moving away from home, I was angry! I even had my own pity party going on in my head!
“WHY? WHY does any child have to go through this? Why my kid? This is not fair!”
I know that I am not alone in dealing with these types of issues and my struggles. But at times I feel so VERY, VERY alone!
Even though I know that when you learn your child has disabilities, you essentially go through the grieving process, not necessarily grieving the loss of our child, but the loss of the future we had hoped for our child. I understand all the stages of that process, but this knowledge does not make it any easier.
On top of these struggles I have, I know I have no right to rain on anyone else’s celebration. SO, I always put on my happy face and celebrated with them. While inside, I am hurting, and I am struggling!
I get angry with myself.
What gives me the right to feel this way at all! How selfish is that!
My son endures so much and never complains about these things that are so hard for me! He is happy!
But do you know what?
God always finds a way to remind me that I am not alone and that He is present in our lives, blessing us through and in our ordinary, every day lives.
It may be a picture I come across, a devotion that seems to be tailor-made for me at that very moment, relationships in my life, a song playing on the radio, my son’s beaming face, his laughter echoing through the room, or seeing him carry out acts of kindness, thoughtfulness or love that are exceptionally powerful when it is for someone who has not extended those same gifts to him.
One of the biggest blessings I experienced in my anguish was through those that were just there for me and did not always try to point out the positives, find the bright side of it or how things could be worse; they just allowed me to grieve the shattered dreams and just sat with me in my brokenness. It is a powerful way to encourage and support those that God has entrusted to one another in this wilderness of pain, grief, and doubt.
Through my work advocating for my son I was fortunate enough to meet many mom’s that although the specifics of our situations may have differed, we all understood the collective grief we shared and the need to let the other lament, grieve and cry together as we walked alongside each other loving and uniquely caring for each other, forming relationships and bonds that can never be replaced. Through each other’s presence, we experienced God in each other.
Through our struggles and anguish, we are transformed, and many blessings can be found within and are part of that transformation. Had it not been for the blessings, the encounters with God through those in my life, I would never have found the strength to grow and step out of my comfort zone and continue God’s work by being a blessing to others.
My hope for others, when faced with anguish and suffering, is that they can see God active in their ordinary everyday life because we do not need a burning bush or whirlwinds to encounter God, He is always present. God never promises us a life free of pain and suffering but promises to always be with us knowing that we will be transformed and our fullness of life realized through our struggles. Even though it is hard to see the light when you are in such a dark place, I hope that you will keep your eyes, your heart and your mind open to what God is trying to show you and the many blessings that can be found in your struggle, because you are never alone…