Thursday, May 7, 2015

If I Had It My Way

May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
~ Matthew 6:10, NLT ~

Thirteen years ago today, an unexpected blessing burst onto the scene of our family's life. Coming after 4 months of premature labor and much fear about having another child with hemophilia, I have learned so much about Christian character from this one-of-a-kind little sprite of ours.

I stood in church for years, decades even, praying, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."  Yet, when the rubber met the road, I wanted to have life MY way.

You would have thought I learned better from parenting a child with the unpredictability of hemophilia for 2 years.  It only took me a few months after our son was born and diagnosed to realize that I was not in control.  And despite angst and suffering, I could see the Lord making a way that was far better than what we had planned.

Still, I was wrecked when I discovered I was already pregnant after my husband had made his appointment with the doctor.  We had only recently developed our own "new normal," managing our son's bleeding disorder, really living again.  I was terrified of the notion of starting all over again with a second child with the disorder.  The idea of having to return to a life centered around running to a hospital once again 2-3 times per week was more than unappealing.  How would we ever afford the treatment of 2 with this outrageously expensive rare disorder?

What I learned in those early days was that my peace rested in cooperating with God's sovereign will.  If He was going to allow this, He would see us through it.

Surrendered to that notion, I found myself challenged once again as I began to experience the extreme stress of a husband between jobs, and managing 2 small children, one with a serious chronic illness.  I started to have premature labor pains 4 months prior to my due date.  At first I was filled with disbelief.  Surely this had to be all in my head!  Then I became aggravated.  WHY would God call this child into existence only to have things end so gravely?  Hadn't we been through enough already?  Meanwhile, my husband and I drifted drearily apart.

Still, I persevered, following God through the "dark night of (my) soul."  With incredible gratitude, I brought forth a delicate, beautiful girl only a week or 2 prior to my actual due date.  She was tiny, with long fingers, and she expanded our hearts once again.

Yet, in her early years, things were not quite right.  I found myself once again in emergency rooms and at specialists' offices, only this time it wasn't for hemophilia.  Horrific allergic reactions, one of them extremely rare, put her life at risk, and required drastic changes in diet and general health care.  As she went from toddlerhood to her early school years, it was clear that she had attention and sensory issues, amongst other things.  Labels were placed on her, and I found myself fighting for special education accommodations.

I was weary.  I never asked for all of this.  I would sometimes joke, "Really, God, I don't need to get the full experience of EVERY diagnosis of the families I serve."  In my worst moments, I would grieve thinking, If only I had it MY way.  I was angry, hurting, and overwhelmed.  It didn't seem like there was enough of me to go around, especially with this high-energy, outside-the-box child.

Now, 13 years later, I can look back and see what a fool I was.  I would have missed so much richness in life had God not given us our "bonus baby," with all of her diagnoses and quirks.  So many of my colleagues are effective at reminding that the Body of Christ is not complete without people who have special needs.  I would maintain that our family certainly would not be complete without her and all of her unique needs.

Here is just an abridged version of all that I would have missed if I had it my way:
  • I would never have learned about homeopathic ways to approach health.
  • I would never have compassion towards parents on the news whose small children get out of their home (sometimes at night) without their knowledge.
  • I would never have seen a super cool x-ray of a dime stuck in someone's esophagus.
  • I would never have had the pleasure of coming to know the world's most awesome pediatric allergist over the years.
  • I would never have met some of the world's most compassionate, effective special educators as grade school melted into middle school.
  • I would never have learned so, so much about the power of our senses.
  • I would never have discovered what it looks like to truly love an animal.
  • I would never have known how essential it is to have a green ukulele.
  • I would have missed the pure, intense voice of a young lady singing out both praise to God interspersed with modern pop.
  • I would never even know that there is such a thing as bush-craft. 
  • I would have missed out on about a zillion life-hacks.
  • I would laugh MUCH less.
  • I would be MUCH more inactive.
  • My heart would be so much smaller.
I can't imagine life without my little "alphabet soup" girl.  It's hard to believe that she has now reached her teen years.  It hasn't been easy.  We have had to be incredibly intentional about everything.  The bullying and battling with others to advocate for her has been stressful.  Nevertheless, it has been worth every minute.  God's plan, as usual, has been SO much better than my own.  I am beyond grateful to see the person she is becoming.

PRAY:  Thank You, Lord, for forgiving my foolish ideas about what is best for me.  I praise You for each of our children who are remarkably and lovingly made by You.  Continue to lead and guide us to be the parents these children need for the bright future you have planned.

~ Barb Dittrich

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