Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Slickery Road

Several years prior to starting our family, Todd and I stumbled across a photo booth in an arcade.  This wasn't just any photo booth mind you, no, this photo booth…this photo booth took a photo of you and your partner, melded the photos together, and created an image of your future love child.  You know where I’m going with this don’t you?  Yep.  We went there.  Tempting as it may be, I do not recommend this photo booth.  At all cost my dear friends, you must avoid it!  You’ll thank me later.  Trust me. 

I remember waiting for the photo of our child to print.  And, I also remember throwing up in my mouth a little when I saw said picture.  Yikes is not even a strong enough word to describe what I felt at the sight of that photo.  We had selected to have a daughter.  Much to my surprise though, she looked more like a Pakuni from the 70’s cult classic TV show, Land of the Lost.  She was frightening.  It took years for us to overcome that trauma and decide to have children after that.  Years. 

Recalling said photo booth trauma, during my pregnancy, I prayed fervently for a healthy and beautiful baby.

“Lord please, please let me have a healthy and beautiful child.  I mean, you saw that photo. 
What, dare I ask, was up with her eyebrows? 
Heaven help me.  Healthy and beautiful, Lord.  Healthy and beautiful.  In Jesus name.”

August 14, 2002, Todd and I welcomed our healthy, beautiful son, Jack, into the world.  Life could not have been any more perfect.  Little did I know of the road that lie ahead though, and how unprepared I would find myself to handle it.  

The next evening, during a routine check of Jack’s vitals, our nurse discovered Jack’s breathing was labored.  Further examination and lab work revealed he had pneumonia, and would need to be placed in the neonatal intensive care unit.  And, just like that – life changed.  Jack was no longer healthy.  All the elation I had moments prior was suddenly slammed by a Mack truck carrying a load of hysteria; and I wasn't even wearing a seat belt.  

I was discharged the next morning.  We left the hospital, car full of balloons and flowers, but an empty car seat.  I had never experienced such an out of control, helpless feeling.  A feeling of uncertainty.  I hated it.  Life unfolded in a manner that was anything but planned, and we found ourselves venturing down an uncharted, unknown, and totally unscripted road. Nine days had passed when Jack was finally released from the hospital.  The hits just kept on coming though.  By the time he was three, Jack would have two surgeries, and three more hospital stays.

“The road sure looks slickery today,” Jack (age three and a half at the time), chimed from his car seat.  A dusting of snow blanketed the road.  Every ounce of my being longed to go back inside – back to the comfortable, the secure, and the safe.  It was a familiar longing – the three years prior had been a journey on one metaphorical slick road after another – and I was desperate to get back to my comfort zone.  

Sometimes things happen that aren't part of the plan, or roads, we envisioned we’d be traveling.  Things outside our comfort zone.  Things that shake us to our very core.  When cruising down an easy road, it’s a breeze to give a fist pump or two toward heaven and shout, “Praise the Lord”.  But, how do we stand (and give aforementioned fist pumps) when the ground beneath us seems unstable?  How do we manage not to fall squarely on our keister when the hard times hit?   My goodness, when the road gets tough, some days mustering the strength just to have a smile is difficult, much less a fist pump and a “Praise the Lord”.  I've fallen on my keister many times, my friend.  Many, many times.  Glory to God for giving me a well cushioned backside, in addition to a divine hand up.  He has lifted me, and stabilized me more times that I can count.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us like having reasons and explanations for things that happen.  We like to compartmentalize and analyze and when we can’t, we find ourselves not only longing to get back to our comfort zone, but longing for answers as well.  One day, in the middle of my desperate longing,  I cried out for answers.  

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Neither this man or his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" (John 9:1-3)

This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

When the road gets slickery, we have a choice.  A choice to consume ourselves with grief.  With bitterness.  With hopelessness.  With sadness.  Or a choice to consume ourselves with peace.  With hope.  With trust.  And, with a life that displays the work of God.  

I don't claim to always understand why things happen, but I pray in every season of my life, whether good or bad, His work is on display for all to see.

Father in heaven, I thank You for the peace and hope You provide.  A peace and hope so comforting it surpasses my understanding.  You replace my anxiety with joy, and turn my mourning into dancing.  For no matter how great my love is for my family, Yours is indeed far greater.  Thank you Lord.  Please help me trust them to your care.  Fix my gaze on You and display Your work for all to see.  For all to see…

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