Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Beginning of Something Beautiful

I went home on my lunch break today and on my way back to work, I saw a dad taking his son’s “first day of school” picture. His son appeared to be no older than Nora.  Instant tears.  My emotions have been a little high as of late as we draw ever closer to my first-born’s very first day of school.  Nora’s life has been full of so many firsts already, even more than most kids her age.  Her first hospital stay at 7 months old, her first bath after being in a body cast for 13 weeks, her first time walking after being in her body cast for 6 weeks, wearing her “long jeans” for the first time after being in her full body cast.  She isn't the only one to experience these other firsts.  Along with Nora, I also got to experience the first (and second…and third!!!!) time leaving my baby asleep on a surgical table in the hands of complete strangers to “fix” her.  Jed and I got to experience our first (and second!) hospital stay, watching Nora recover from major surgery.  To say we've been through a lot with our baby girl is an understatement.  But in reality, we haven’t known any different and are beyond blessed to have a daughter with a treatable condition – some children aren’t treatable.  We were able to watch our child recover.  Some parents never get that opportunity.  Some parents have to recover from the loss of their child instead.  In the past when people have expressed their sympathy for everything we have been through with Nora, my first response isn't “thank you” – it is “we are blessed that she is treatable…things could be so much worse for her and for that, she has been blessed by the hand of God.”  Which brings me to the thought that in just 4 days, I will be leaving my baby girl in the hands of complete strangers yet again, praying for safety as she forges her own way in this messed up world.  I always thought I would be the overprotective parent who kept her kids in a neat, safe, sheltered little bubble.  And I used to be.  But the more I am enveloped by my faith, I realize that I can only control so much of what happens to my kids, and the more I am able to let go of that control and to let them make their own mistakes and learn from them.  I won’t always be around, and I want to make sure that they can stand firm on their own two feet.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m being too harsh and can hardly stand to let them learn life’s lessons the hard way, but I know it's for the best.  My feelings are just so different.  My mother’s instinct is that I want to protect them and hold them and prevent anything bad from happening to them.  But I know that reality paints a completely different picture.  Reality is that bad things are going to happen to them and I can’t prevent them and I probably won’t be able to “fix” them.  BUT, I can raise them up to know how to handle the bad things so that the bad things aren't quite so bad.  I guess my point is that I want to raise them to have perspective.  Most times, if we would just push our pride and ego out of the way and look at things in a completely different light, we would be in awe of just how prideful and selfish we really are as human beings and that our way isn't always the right way.  And the situation would have a completely different life of its own.  And I know that in my sin, I do that same thing.  I am not willing to budge….not willing to let go of my pride.  And it not only hurts those around me, but hurts me.  I cannot spiritually grow if pride is in the way.  I now understand why pride is one of the seven deadly sins.  And in my opinion, the worst.  And it's what I struggle with the most.  I want my kids to learn to look at things from all angles and to know that they can be flexible when dealing with life's issues.

(Wow….how did the thought of my baby girl’s first day of school morph into THAT?!)

Another thought came to me today.  I’ve noticed that since I’ve invited Christ into my life, my view of myself has changed.  My insecurities have taken a back seat to more important things.  Things like doing God's work even if I'm not comfortable putting myself out there and being vulnerable.  I think the root of all insecurity is the feeling that we will never be good enough, we will never rise up to meet the expectations that others have of us, we will be thought of as incompetent.  But here is the root of all security: The love that Jesus has for us in immovable.  When you realize just how loved and cared for you are by Him, it doesn’t matter what expectations others have of you – you only care about what expectations HE has for you and you strive to meet those expectations..  I will never have the words to express my gratitude for His love for me.  He has answered my prayers with more than I ever could have imagined.  Maybe not the way I thought He would answer, but in HIS way.  And His way is always so much better than ours.  And I fall so short of his grace and mercy every single day, yet every single day He grants them anyway.  (“Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23) I am so undeserving of His comforting love, yet He freely gives it to me.  I just can’t even wrap my brain around that.  (“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8.) 

His promises, His plans….they all come to fruition – if you’re willing to change your perspective.  Maybe not in the way you thought, but in the way He knows is best.

Archer & Nora a few days before Nora's first day of school

Raegan & Noah (my niece & nephew) on their first day of school

"Life's like an hourglass glued to the table."