I rounded the corner at the end of the hallway and realized I knew where I was. This was a familiar place. When it dawned on me, I looked to my boys, now 13, and with a smile, pointed to these two chairs and said, “Boys, I nursed you in those chairs and on the floor of one of the exam rooms in the back. Initially, I recounted this to them as a fond memory, filling them in on a time they were very much a part of but would have no remembrance because they were just babies, days old as a matter of fact.
But then, as I took a seat to wait once again for an ultrasound to be taken of my oldest’s (by two minutes) eyes, the tears welled up in my own eyes. Surprised by this rush of emotion, I tried to quell the sobs that were building, to no avail. There in the pediatric division of Wilmer Institute at Johns Hopkins, I sat and sobbed. My sons inquired; a nurse walked by observing and offered us dum dums, the quintessential, “This will make everything better” offering to all children in every hospital or medical clinic worldwide, I am convinced. The external stimuli jolted me out of that traumatic place the sight of those two chairs took me, and I was able to compose myself enough to decline the sweet nurse’s offer of comfort in lollipop form.
It’s been 13 years walking a road I never could have anticipated traveling. When we were first told about our son’s diagnosis of Sturge Weber Syndrome and all the potential havoc it could wreak on his, and subsequently our lives, we were shell shocked. Entering Hopkins’ clinics just days after my twins were born introduced us to a world of specialists, medical jargon, tests, procedures and surgeries we would not know anything about should God have spared us from this lot. But 13 years later, I can see how much we have all grown through what God chose for us. I can see we have learned so much; we have grown in empathy and informed compassion for a whole segment of this world that we may have otherwise overlooked or even ignored. I can see our endurance for life’s challenges, curve balls, unexpecteds and unknowns has been strengthened.
I want to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who’s been thrust upon a life path you never would have chosen and can’t get off of. Or maybe you did run after & welcome a certain life trajectory, but it’s all new and proving to be harder than you thought it would be, with costs you aren’t sure you’re prepared to pay. Time really is an important player that you will either thank or regret depending on what you cultivate with that time.
It may be cliche, but the truth nevertheless remains. Circumstances can make you bitter or better, and it’s time that will deepen what you chose to cultivate. Let me be a voice in your life today urging you to fight to be shaped for the better by whatever it is that is pressing down hard on you right now. Be vigilant about uprooting those bitter seeds that want to grow deep in your soul. They often sound like, “This isn’t fair. I deserve better than this. I hate my life. Why do things go well for everyone else but me? What have I done to deserve this? How will anything good come from this?”
I’m not saying that there won’t be struggle or that I never thought these things or still don’t sometimes think these things. But, let’s together remember we have a choice in what we’re going to do when these thoughts come. We can choose to nurture these embittering thoughts or reject them and replace them with God’s truth. He has promised to work all things together for the good of those who love Him. He has promised to fulfill His purposes for our lives, and as those who love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, we can trust His purpose is to prosper us and not to harm us. It might look oh so different than we could ever have imagined, but He is wise. He is good. And He will sustain us even through the darkest of times.
We received another diagnosis yesterday for my son, one that likely has been there since he was born. And despite the numerous eye specialists who have spent hours, that could likely amount to days if added up, looking into the depths of my son’s eyes, this anomaly was not discovered until yesterday. It’s likely the cause of his extremely poor vision in his one eye, at least according to the doctor we saw yesterday. Honestly, who really knows?
I could be tempted to anger over this, but for 13 years, I have sought to cultivate a firm belief that God is my son’s Creator, Sustainer and his ultimate Physician. And He reveals what He wants and keeps hidden what He wants hidden even to the “Best of the Best.” And because I’ve cultivated that truth over a long period of time, I do not have to get angry about this potentially missed diagnosis. I do not have to wonder if we could have preserved better vision in that eye had this been discovered earlier in his journey. I can fully trust that we have sought God throughout my son’s whole life for help with his needs. We have followed through on what God led us to do, the doctors to whom He led us. And we can have confidence that though we undoubtedly have not walked this out perfectly, we have a God who is perfect in all His ways even when His ways seem to run counter to our finite wisdom. For 13 years, I have imperfectly but genuinely cultivated trust in God, and I’m not going to stop trusting Him now.
Today, I’m beckoning you to do the same.