One thing that really stands out to me as a memory of when I was pregnant with Kirsten is the television commercials. My blood work came back early in my pregnancy that had markers for various birth defects. I am definitely a “confront the situation head on” type of personality. So we elected to have an amniocentesis done to confirm what we were facing. The thought of terminating the pregnancy NEVER crossed our minds. We merely wanted to know what we were facing and become as prepared as possible to tackle it.
I remember watching baby commercials for diapers, baby food, early stages of learning toys . . . thinking to myself “none of these babies have Down syndrome. ” I slowly began to feel isolated and alone . . . as though I was on an island. It has been an island that stays in my peripheral vision at all times, tempting me to jump on over for a visit with the devil himself.
Through the years, one thing the Lord has revealed to me with Kirsten is a scripture verse many of us gloss over, focused on the END of the verse and not the beginning:
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. ”
John 16:33 (NLT)
Now, we all love the “take heart, because I have overcome the world” part, right? It is the middle part that we tend to skip . . . the whole “many trials and sorrows” yucky part!
Our executive pastor had a very powerful message this last Sunday, one that literally moved me to tears. Sitting there, in the Body of Believers we call our home church, I felt as though Jesus was kneeling down, placing His hands on my cheeks and looking deep into my eyes, telling me how much He loved me, that He actually KNEW what I was going through, and that He told me it would happen. He is with me and my joy is found in Him. Together, we can get through anything. An island with Jesus is one I will take with every breath in my body!
Now, to be fair to all the family and friends with whom God has blessed me to do this thing called Life, I would probably try and rescue me out of this reality too! I mean, look at it from their point of view:
A child unable to thrive, medical bills, illnesses, sleep deprivation, isolation, violence, pain, tears, guilt, and stress . . . need I go on?
But over the last 12 years of this sweet angel’s life, I can tell you one thing without hesitation–my “mountain top experiences” are always, ALWAYS, when I am in the midst of a storm. That is when I surrender. That is when I draw closer to Jesus and run to Him. That is when I climb up in His lap and curl up until the storm has subsided. When I am good . . . in my element and exercising my gifts and strengths, I may glance over my shoulder and check in with Him, but for the most part “I’ve got this” is pretty much my MO. It is in my weaknesses, in my trials and troubles, that I give up the control of things over which I have no actual control, and turn to Him.
In this season of Christmas, I am reminded by our executive pastor of what the birth of the Messiah really entailed. He compared it to a situation we as mere mortals can comprehend:
Let’s say, for a moment, we want to experience what life might have been like for Helen Keller. We would blindfold ourselves and put noise elimination headphones on, sit in a completely dark auditorium, and try to experience that environment with the few senses we have left. Now, the reality is that we limited OURSELVES from hearing and seeing. We still have the ability to see and hear. That is what our God did for us . . . He placed limits on Himself to be able to be placed into a human body, experience pain, suffering, hunger, sleep deprivation . . . all the while, still being God. He did this so that we could understand the Truth about the Kingdom of God. He has revealed to us the end of the story so that we can endure the middle of the story. And the middle of the story ASSURES us that we will have trials and tribulations–it does not say “you may” or “if you ever”–it says YOU WILL. And the reality is we are NORMAL in NOT WANTING to experience these trials. Christ, while in the Garden, asked to have the cup taken from Him, but only if it was the Father’s will. He was so overwhelmed that His sweat was actually blood. He understands what He is asking of us, but He is equipping us to endure!
So, do we sit and fester in the trials? Certainly not! God has empowered doctors, nurses, therapists, case managers, teachers, pastors, Sunday school teachers–a multitude of people who have gifts and talents in caring for individuals with special needs. I desire and seek after assuring Kirsten has a quality of life that is as close to this side of paradise as possible. But my reality is THIS WORLD . . . and this world is not Heaven. This world is full of illness, war, pain, suffering, and hunger.
Now, I have two choices when faced with the temptation of “fixing” my reality: !1) I can try every therapy, every new diet, every homeopathic, aromatherapy, and new drug on the market, taking control back from Him; or (2) I can continue to draw near to Him, allowing Him to guide my steps and trusting He knows FAR BETTER than I what Kirsten’s needs are, and will provide whatever or whomever she needs to improve her quality of life. My joy must be centered in Christ and Christ alone! When my eyes turn to the left or the right, in hopes of making her “better,” I lose sight of all that He has taught me in the last 12 years. And ultimately, I mourn all over again when I come back to my island of reality and see that my hopes and dreams of “fixing” my situation were just that . . . MINE.
So, here is my encouragement to you today! There are families that must pick up and move to another state merely to get services for their loved one with special needs. There are families that have gone through their savings and are now in debt merely to provide medical care for their child. There are families that are suffering from violence in their home because their loved one is now an adult, too heavy to restrain, and now they are too old to care for him. Trials and tribulations are all around us. And if we sit and look at our lives as those on the “outside” see us, we lose sight of the joy and peace that He is providing! He knows our pain . . . He is intimately involved in the lives of our children! He knows their names, every hair on their heads, and I am more than confident that Kirsten has an INTIMATE relationship with Him. Trust that He loves our children with a love we cannot even fathom. He is using our situations to reveal Himself to others . . . to draw them near to Him. And our joy is knowing the end of the verse–TAKE HEART! HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD!!
So please don’t try and fix me . . . I am meant to be broken. Because in my brokenness, I am clinging to the one hope that will sustain me . . . Jesus the Christ.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!