I think about things differently since our lives changed with Grace. I was reminded of that this Father’s Day. As I scrolled through Facebook that day there were about one thousand and five #1 Dads and Husbands of the Year. (I’m not sure how that works mathematically but people were pretty convinced so….)
I read other writers and bloggers who have lost children or are childless for other reasons like infertility and I couldn’t help but think of them that day. I thought of all the dads who didn’t get to be dads this year because of loss or unfulfilled dreams and what a difficult day it must have been for them. (And I hope for their sake they went on a long hike and avoided Facebook and TV and any other form of social media that day.)
Grace’s diagnoses and ultimately losing her stripped away the bubble I’d been living in. The bubble that convinced me that those kinds of things don’t happen to people like me. (Who’s people like me anyways? An average human being breathing air like everyone else? That kind of people?) I might as well win the lottery if we’re going to talk about “the odds” of something like that happening.
But guess what? It did. It happened to us. And I realized that I’m just like everyone else. I’m not exempt from loss and suffering any more than the next guy. And honestly, we’re pretty insulated in this country from a lot of suffering. Which only heightens our sense of entitlement that God’s “blessing” equals marriage, two cars, a house, 2.1 kids, and happily ever after. And quite frankly, I’m tired of it.
It’s hard to read books like Kisses from Katie and see the wisdom and purpose gleaned from suffering and not be upset at The Bubble. She made such profound statements like, These people have genuine joy even when they have nothing else because Jesus is truly all they have.
We have Jesus and satellite TV. Jesus and air conditioning. Jesus and shopping. Jesus and The Bachelorette. (Stop judging.) Jesus and modern medicine.
And please understand me – alone, these things are not bad (except probably The Bachelorette….seriously, stop judging), but when it’s not Jesus only, they start to take up enough places in our heart that they ultimately begin to substitute Jesus himself.
In these last months, I’ve often felt like the disciples when Jesus asked them if they were going to leave him too and Peter replied, Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life (John 6:67-68).
I’ve often wanted to run to Jesus and something these last months. It feels better temporarily. But where would I go? He alone has words of life. For the first time in my life things are so far out of my control it can only be Jesus only.
But it doesn’t take long before the something else creeps back in. Which is why I love this verse from Hebrews 12:1,
…let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
Every weight and sin. Not all things that hinder us are sin. But they can still hinder us from running with endurance. I need the reminder. I need the challenge. I need to be willing to ask the Lord what something else am I clinging to.
I told someone today that I would never have chosen this journey but now I wouldn’t trade it. If it opens my eyes a little wider to the hurt and need around me, then I accept it. If it draws me closer to the softness of God’s heart for him and for others, then I accept it. If it makes me less dependent on myself and more dependent on him, then I accept it. If it makes me hurt for the broken hearts who didn’t get to be a father this year, then I accept it. If he uses our pain to comfort others, then I accept it.
I had heard this prayer quoted from a historical figure (can’t remember who) a while back and I recently thought of it again and the profound truth contained in it:
(We still had a good day on Sunday and got to celebrate with some good friends.)