Friday, August 9, 2013

Parallel Experiences

Have you ever had an experience that scared you so bad you were not sure what to do?  Was there a path that was set out before you and you did whatever you could to change that path?  What if you could look at your life and see the parallel experiences, what if you could see how certain experiences have prepared you for the exact journey you are about to take?  What if you just took the plunge and experienced the journey despite the fears? 

In our lives, we often have things that are very alike.  We have experiences, trials, joys, hardships that are pretty similar.  I think often times we don't really realize it.  But each experience we encounter, I believe, we are asked to do one thing; to walk out in faith.  We are asked to trust and to do something that often times we are not comfortable with.  And it is only through that that we can truly experience the trial, the joy, the pain and suffering, or the happiness of every blessing.  And through that experience that is how we learn, how we grow, how we change into the people God wants us to be.

See, we are all born sinners.  When a lady at our church sees a baby, she says oh look at that cute little sinner.  That is true.  We question why little ones suffer, but they are no different than adults.  We are sinners because of the fall.  We all need Jesus and babies are no different.  While I do believe God has a special place for babies; they are cute little sinners!  Accepting this helped me to understand why Lydia had to endure so much pain.  Nothing is fair in this life, so it was not fair she had to endure it, but she is a sinner the same as me and she is not exempt from pain.  I know that God is in control and holding her.

The other thing that I had to come to realize and accept is my identity is in Christ and not this world.  See the world says so many things that just are not true.  So many of the things they say cause added stress and just are not worth believing.  The other night we dropped the girls off at VBS and a teacher asked if Lydia in her class.  She reminded me that Lydia is two now and she could be in that class.  WOW!  That was an eye opening experience.  Another little girl said no she is not two.  After looking at the rest of the class, I wondered too if she was really two.  She may not be where they are, she may not be where the world standard of a two year old should be, but I do believe that she is right where God wants her to be.  She is where God has designed her to be and her identity does not come from where the world standards says she should be.

So what does all this mean?  What am I trying to say?  I am not really sure.  As I was mowing yesterday, I was thinking back to some of my recent experiences and thinking about what it is like to have Lydia as a daughter.  She really is no different.  There are different experiences with her, but I have that with my other two.  Really when you boil it down, there are not many differences.  She is a baby who loves to snuggle and play, test my patience, get into things, explore, learn, grow.  She does most of these at her own pace, but she really is no difference.

My biggest hurdle though was to overcome the label that was put on her because of her diagnosis.  I had to over come a mental picture that was false.  She was not; just my picture.  I had to realize her identity in Christ.  I had to accept that this is the path God wants me on, and I need to bring honor and glory to Him.  And through it, I get to experience some of life's greatest blessings.

Let me try to explain myself.  Recently I was feeling anxious, like I needed to do something.  My friend kept coming to my mind.  She is a mother of six small children and she is fighting brain cancer.  They are struggling and I wanted to do something to help them.  We don't have a lot of financial resources to help and I felt that money may be one their biggest needs at the present time.  What was I able to do?

I kept fighting this anxiousness.  I did not want to be obedient.  I did not want to do this.  I knew that planning and organizing is my gift and God gave it to me to bring Him glory.  I knew what I wanted to do, but I did not want to do it.  I did not want to give up my time, I had a lot on my plate.  No one did something like that for us and there are things in my life that we are struggling with.  What about Lydia, she certainly would interfere some way (medical needs that would arise, bad days, not eating).  There was no way I had time.  OK....get it...lots of excuses and all very selfish.  It is hard to admit that those excuses crossed my mind, but they did.  I am a sinner, shamefully. 

And one day I decided to be obedient.  I decided to just take that leap of faith.  I could not deal with this restless feeling anymore.  In a matter of hours we had everything planned.  We had a date set, a place to have it, we decided on a breakfast and a bake off/silent auction.  I had other people to assist in the planning of it.  And like that we were off!

The days passed and my girls and I drove around town putting fliers up and talking with people asking for donations.  Before I knew it my girls were fighting over who would ask, who would hang up the flier.  You see, at that moment, without me realizing it, I was teaching my kids some VERY important lessons.  Ones they would have missed out if I would have not taken "the plunge" of being obedient and planning this benefit.

I met people whose kindness and generosity have changed me to the core.  Their willingness to help a stranger without even thinking was amazing.  I met people who went out of their way.  I saw how the story of this sweet family affected others and instantly they wanted to help.

I got the blessing of seeing others coming together to work for someone else.  I saw friendships form and new relationships formed.  I saw old connections strengthened.  I witnessed miracles right before my eyes.  God had His hand in every detail of that.

I saw Satin trying to destroy plans, to distract me and the other planning, but then I saw God honor that and do something even better.  It was one of the most amazing experiences that I have gotten to be part of.  I was not doing something for myself, no matter what sinful, selfishness self said.  I was able to serve, learn, experience, enjoy the blessings from above and none of it was for me, but maybe I benefitted the most.

We did not serve as many people as I thought we may have.  However, we made more than I ever thought was possible.  While final numbers are not in, the initial totals have totally overwhelmed me.  God is so amazing.  A family being benefited by the generosity of other people.  It started with one person who was being obedient to God, even though they kicked and fought it.

So how does that relate to Lydia and raising a child with special needs?  Can't you see all of the parelells there?  Most times, our world says to abort a child like Lydia.  They say she is not worth it.  They say she will take too much work.  They say she will cost too much.  However, I think that it completely wrong.  Yes, the journey will be different, but if we are obedient to God, we will be blessed beyond belief.  Because we are all sinners, yes there will be pain and suffering.  At times the road will almost seem unbearable.  However, the blessings will be beyond anything we could have ever imagine.

Once we are obedient to what God wants us to do, once we find our identity in Him, it is then we can start to experience life, start to enjoy the blessings and joy only He can fill us with.  Once we accept that the path is His and not ours, it does not matter if we end up in Holland or any where else.  We will be blessed and get to experience joy and pain in a different way.  There is nothing on this earth that I deserve, but because of Him dying on the cross and conquering death, I get to enjoy His grace, much more than what I deserve.

As most of the times, I had this story written so much differently in my head than what I am able to do on paper.  I hope that I made my point, I hope that you understand what I am trying to say.  Raising Lydia is an honor and I am blessed that I get to do that.  But raising her is a different path than Ellen and Allison, but a joy nonetheless.  See I can focus on what I am missing or I can relish in what I have.  Ellen may not be the hockey player that I had in my mind either, but she is going to be exactly who God wanted her to be.  Allison may not be the tomboy I wanted, but she is going to be who God wanted her to be.  Lydia may not be the tall basketball player that I wanted her to be, but God will make her exactly who she should be!

Maybe for me, it helps me to parallel these experiences to wipe out that distorted mental image, in order to fully accept where I am at.  This journey of raising Lydia is not really any different when I find my true identity and when I measure her identity to Christ and not this world.  We never will measure up to what this world is telling us and we will constantly feel like a failure.  Each time I go into a developmental appointment, that failure is there.  But when I understand that she is right where God wants her to be, I am proud, and I know that she is a special blessing and she will bloom when God wants her to.  She is Lydia and she will do it on her time.  Just as the fish will never climb a tree, I need to make sure that her expectations are accurate and not impossible but not limiting.  

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