Resting on Adirondack chairs my sister and I looked out over the white sand beach and into the vast ocean. We were enjoying the end of a summer day together. She gently asked me, “How do you think you’ve changed since Nathan was born?”
I think about that question a lot. It’s hard for me to answer because I lack objective insight into myself. How can I fully understand how this little boy who is so different from who I expected he’d be, yet is sweet and mysterious and inviting, has changed me. Oh I understand how he has changed my life on the outside alright. The external changes in my life are most disruptive and different: feeding tube, cathing, medicines, ambulating, toileting, etc. I understand less how Nathan has changed me on the inside, who I am as a person and my character.
I would like to proudly say that I’m more patient, more kind, less anxious, and a devoted advocate for those with disabilities. However, I don’t think those things are true. Just this week I snapped at my husband and my son before we left the house. I certainly am not more patient, especially when I’m driving or waiting in line. And I don’t see myself as an advocate because I don’t tend to readily voice my opinions.
How have I changed since Nathan was born?
As the cool sea salty air whipped through my hair and my coffee warmed my hands, I told her that the biggest change is in my belief system. I believe strongly in the sovereignty of God. I have a deeper awe and respect for the providence of God. This is a very big deal for a Type-A planner who likes to be in control. Now I better understand that His plan will consistently prevail over my attempts to control things. Even though I don’t always like the ways of His providence, I can rest in a deep mysterious lovingkindness that holds me with unending strength.
Then my sister said, “I was going to say that you are more content.”
“Before there was a restlessness in you. You were constantly trying to figure out your purpose in life, what it was you were supposed to be doing. Now you don’t strive as much. You are more rested and settled.”
That’s true. I feel more settled. Maybe not rested, but settled.
I knew instantly when Nathan was born, I couldn’t go up against God this round. None of my kicking and screaming over the circumstances would change Nathan’s genetic make-up. I couldn’t research and find a medical procedure or diet to cure him from his condition. And I certainly couldn’t have a do-over.
Nathan’s birth transported me to a place of understanding that my life wasn’t all about me and want I wanted. I may have thought I knew this before, but I experienced it on a whole new level four years ago.
I relearn this again and again.
Lately things have been hard. Really hard. I’ve found myself fighting and striving as I did before. This week I had to intentionally make a big U-turn in my thoughts and emotions over my circumstances. Once again, I am trying to not work against the Almighty, but try to lean into His plan, protection, and grace. Knowing the decisions that I can, and do make from my will, I must make not holding too tightly.
It’s about Him after all.
I am more content when I pay attention to God’s heart pursing me. When I trust the ways He has provided for our family, because He has. Not everyone experiences the deep disappointment and the incredible joy, which comes from having a disabled child. It’s living a life of extreme, extremes. The highs are higher and the lows and WAY lower. I can’t sustain the extreme emotions well without settling in the unchanging and unwavering love of God. I can say full well that it is a journey that is not about me fighting battles. The battle belongs to the Lord. I can choose to rest content in that.
that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear, for the battle is the LORD’s.” – 1 Samuel 17: 46-47
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
Also be sure to check out my list of Favorite Books on Disability!