"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control."
No parent would ever forget their child's day of surgery. I remember every surgery clearly, but the clearest in my mind is Namine's second heart surgery. I was angry. No, that isn't right. I was furious. I wanted to curse God, but there were no adequate words – the emotions were just too large, too overwhelming. So I did what any fool husband would do: I took it out on my wife. I got angry at her because I couldn't get angry at God. He could hear me, perhaps, but He wouldn't respond – not immediately, anyway. I couldn't know for sure that I had hurt Him; I could know that I had hurt my wife – only with words, but words are powerful too. Anger makes us selfish and childish; juvenile, stupid, and petty. With a savage joy we destroy all we've built, and all too often we only realize what we've done when it's too late. And then, when we’re left alone to survey the ruins, only then, we realize that we have pushed away everyone who might have helped. In hate – even towards ourselves and no one else – we ruin lives.
Fortunately, my wife has graciousness and forgiveness to match. I am fortunate in having her, because I don’t deserve a single bit of the kindness she’s shown me. (These words, too, are paltry, not nearly enough to describe how in awe I am of her love for me.) It took me a long time to come to the realization of what should have been obvious: I have no control over some things in my life. It seems like such a simple concept, but when faced with the possibility of losing a child, who could accept such a thing? You are forced into making a choice, even if you don't recognize that it is a choice. You can either become a bitter, angry person, or you can accept it, finding a calm center in the midst of this crazy storm that has become your life.
Holding onto anger will not only poison you; it will poison everything you love. It would be the basis for divorce, creating even more anger and blame; for distancing yourself from your child, who would in turn also grow to be angry and bitter. It would be the start of a thousand fights, a thousand blames, and in the end, nothing but a thousand regrets – all for the satisfaction of a single moment.
I don't want to live like that. I want to love my wife and child, and I want them to love me. And they do – for all my endless failings. But love sees past all that and simply accepts us as we are. Even though Namine no longer has a tracheostomy, even though she’s rid of her g-tube, life still pitches us headfirst into a hundred storms. But we know we've been through worse, and we've come out all right. Whatever life throws at us – we know we can beat it, as long as we've got each other. Most importantly, we have God's promises.
I have said stupid things, and I have done stupid things. Only rarely can I say that I am proud of myself; but I am more proud than words can say of my family. I don’t deserve their love for me, but I am ever so grateful for it. I am truly blessed, more than I could ever hope to articulate, in the loving wife I have in Jessica, the beautiful daughter we have together in Namine. They add to my life and give it meaning and purpose. Everything we've been through together has made us stronger. Brought us closer. Through a crazy plan – of God’s, certainly not ours – we've been made into more of a family than we would have otherwise been.
As I was saying in the beginning, we would not be the same without our experiences. They define us, after all. But Namine is more than merely a child who was born with disabilities. She has them, but she is not defined by them. Similarly, we have these experiences – hospital visits, surgeries, and more – but we are not defined by them. We, through God’s help and each other, rise above them and do more than survive. We live. We love.
PRAY: Holy Spirit, only by Your power can we love as You love, forgive as You forgive. Thank You for the gift of family. Help us to treasure one another beyond our mistakes. Remind us that we are Your gift to each other to face life storms.
~ Paul Eiche