Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I’m sitting at the park on this beautiful spring day.
Jim and Ethan are at physical therapy.
As much as I know I need time to myself, sometimes it's hard to allow myself to enjoy it. The three of us are together so much that it feels like part of me is missing when we're apart. Our days and lives are so tightly woven together as we walk our journey, that it's easy to lose yourself.
After 6 1/2 years, I think Jim and I both are realizing that life is meant to be lived to the fullest, and we can’t do that unless we continue to grow as individuals, as well as a couple.
Unfortunately, most realizations come when the consequences of not realizing them sooner catch up with you.
So too, is this realization...
I decided to treat myself during this alone time.
That’s why I’m sitting at the park at the end of our street.
The sky couldn’t be any bluer. The birds are singing, competing with the squeals and laughter of children that are celebrating their spring break. The cool breeze is pushing the water from the bay into the bayou. And there is a continuous, gentle lapping of the water as it hits the sandy bank.
Only God with His creativity could have come up with such a scene.
It has been almost two years since I started this blog. Lately, I’ve thought a lot about it. I’ve thought about how our lives have changed in those two years. I’ve also thought about the ways I’ve prayed for it to change and it hasn’t. I've thought about some of the posts I wish I hadn’t written, and the ones I wish I had.
I’ve thought about the months I’ve gone without posting and wondered if it was time to close it down. To let it go.
Somehow I haven’t been able to do that.
Today, sitting at the park, I remembered why I decided to give this blog its name, "Forget Not His Benefits."
One afternoon, long before I knew I’d ever write a blog, Jim, Ethan and I walked down to the park. Of course Bayley, our lab, was with us. The little city we live in had just completed making the park wheelchair-accessible. At least the part that leads to the dock. Jim and Ethan wanted to give it a try. Pets aren’t allowed in the park so I told Jim and Ethan to go ahead while I waited with Bayley in the parking lot.
As I stood in the parking lot, I watch my husband push our son in his wheelchair out to the end of the dock. For some reason, after years of Ethan being in a wheelchair, it dawned on me, “That’s my husband. That’s my son.”
Standing at a distance from them, I saw them as someone else would see them, not as their wife and mother.
My heart began to cry out to God. “This isn’t right. This picture isn’t right. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. This can’t be the way it is. Please God, no.”
The pain of that sight engulfed me. Tears were rolling down my face. My heart was screaming silently as I watched Jim and Ethan sitting at the end of the dock. Standing there lost in the pain of the moment something happened that only made everything worse.
A man came by the end of the dock paddling a kayak. I watched Ethan as his head followed the kayak as it passed by. I knew my child well enough to know what he was thinking. I knew him well enough to know the pain he was feeling. His questions, his fears, his regrets. I knew he was thinking, "If only. . ."
I also knew what my husband was feeling. Wanting so badly to change places with Ethan. Wanting so badly for Ethan to be in a kayak paddling across the still waters. I knew his heart ached as he knew he couldn't fix this like all of the hundred things he had fixed for Ethan before.
My heart was screaming out to God, “That should be my baby in that kayak. That should be him. My strong, healthy son who loves adventure, the outdoors, life. He should never be in a wheelchair. No, God. No."
I was desperate. I was desperate to believe. I was desperate to believe all that I had learned about God since Ethan was injured and He had come to our rescue.
I had experienced moments when I knew if I didn’t believe... if I didn't trust God... I wouldn’t make it. This was one of those moments.
But, I couldn't find my faith. All I had was hurt.
As I stood there, completely helpless, lost in my pain, and the pain of the two I loved so much who were at the end of that dock, a passage from one of my favorite books came to mind.
It was from Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning.
"Like faith and hope, trust cannot be self generated. I cannot simply will myself to trust. What outrageous irony: the one thing that I am responsible for throughout my life I cannot generate. The one thing I need to do I cannot do. But such is the meaning of radical dependence. It consists in theological virtues, in divinely ordained gifts. Why reproach myself for my lack of trust? Why waste time beating myself up for something I cannot affect? What does lie within my power is paying attention to the faithfulness of Jesus. That's what I am asked to do: pay attention to Jesus throughout my journey, remembering his kindness
I could not change the scene at the end of the dock. I couldn’t take away my pain, or Ethan’s, or Jim's. I couldn't make Ethan not need the wheelchair anymore.
I couldn’t call up the faith I needed for the moment.
But... I could remember.
I could remember all that God had done.
And... I did.
I began speaking out loud all the things I could remember.
I remembered how Ethan’s roommate found him just in time.
I remembered that I had been told by a physician at the hospital that he thought it had been unusual that all of the specialists that were on call when Ethan was brought into the ER, were the very best in their fields. He told us that he remembered thinking, that kid is extremely lucky.
I remembered how the doctors told us that Ethan’s brain was swelling and that he would die in less than 48 hours. It didn’t. And he didn't.
I remembered how God made a way for us to bring Ethan home from Gainesville, when it seemed impossible.
I remembered how God had made a way for us with insurance, doctors, therapies.
I remembered the times when I wondered how we were going to make it. How Seth would ever succeed in law school with a broken heart. How our family would ever laugh again. How we would ever celebrate another holiday. I thought about how we are making it now, though sometimes it's not so pretty, how Seth is a lawyer, and how we laugh now more than ever. I thought about how holidays now mean so much more than gifts and decorations. They have become reminders that, above all, we are a family.
I remembered the day Ethan woke up after 4 1/2 months.
I remembered how God had given Ethan back his memory and his sense of humor.
I remembered the first time I went to the store and bought real food for Ethan to eat, after months and months of tube feedings. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
I remembered the strength, the peace, the comfort that only God can bring.
I remembered sitting by Ethan's hospital bed so tired that I couldn't hold up my head, when God whispered to me "my yoke is easy, my burden is light."
I remembered as much as I could.
And... I became stronger.
I had hope.
Not in me. Not in things changing. Not in Ethan not needing the wheelchair.
But in my faith and my hope in God. Hope in the One that I had seen act, over and over again. The One who had done things that were impossible with man.
I had faith. I could feel it.
I can do this. I can. I can trust in God's goodness.
My faith was brought alive by remembering.
Maybe that’s why, over and over again, Moses told the Israelites to remember. He had seen them forget, and knew they would again and again. Moses knew the way wasn’t going to be easy. He knew there would be fear and confusion. He knew there would be obstacles and battles. He knew they would have to remember the miracles, the provision, and the protection they had seen first hand. Moses knew they weren't going to make it to the place God had promised them, if they didn't remember... and believe.
God knows this about me, too.
He knows I won’t make it unless I remember.
So today... I'm remembering.
The children that were here earlier couldn’t resist getting in the bayou. Their teeth were chattering as their moms threw them over-sized, colorful beach towels and instructed them to get all the sand off their feet before they got in their van and left.
Ha. Ha. Good luck with that. I've been there many times!
The park is empty now.
It’s just me.
The birds continue to sing, and the breeze continues to move the dark blue water.
And I continue to remember.