One early summer day, my husband suggested we take the boys on a vacation to the beach. Inside, I cringed. It sounded terrible. I envisioned chasing two little boys, ages two and four, both with speech and gross motor delays and sensory processing disorder around a beach. Oh yeah, and they both freak out if they get water in their faces. Did my dear husband realize there’d be a lot of water to get in little faces at the beach and the pool?
I thought he was crazy and I told him so. But I also told him he worked hard for our family, and if this is what he wanted to do with his hard earned money, then I’d honor it. I would be a good submissive wife and all that jazz.
But, praise the Lord, it was a glorious vacation! The boys had a blast. Never had we seen such excitement on those little faces. “Where are we going?” my husband would ask the boys, as we would put on swimsuits and gather our towels and sand toys for some time on the beach and at the pool. “Da beee!” my four-year-old son would exclaim, wiggling, and doing his awkward yet charming interpretation of swimming strokes. This child, who used to be terrified of water, was by the end of our vacation jumping into the pool into his daddy’s arms. And my younger son, who had just celebrated his second birthday added three new words to his sparse vocabulary and learned to accept water splashed into his face without a meltdown, huge victories in our book. Huge.
My husband and I marveled at the excitement. We hadn’t experienced such joy in a long time. We knew this was a gift from God. An opportunity to enjoy our family, the progress our children were making with all the hard work and the never-ending therapies we were doing. A time to just rest and be a family.
On the last day of our trip, the thought of packing up our belongings and heading back to our house and the appointments and the mountain of laundry gave me a panic attack. Seriously. My chest felt tight and my heart pounded. Tears streamed down my face and I couldn’t catch my breath. My husband suggested I go out to the beach and spend some time by myself and I went gladly, eager to process this overwhelming anxiety with God.
I listened to the waves crash on the shore, tasted my warm salty tears. I didn’t even know what to pray about. I’d been hearing silence from God for the past year or so and expected more of the same.
Never have I been so grateful to be proven wrong. He whispered one word that broke the silence and banished the anxiety and the grief that had gripped my heart for so long.
“Embrace what?” I wondered. And for the next hour or so, God revealed area after area of my life that I needed to embrace. I wish I had written it at all down at the time, but I don’t think my pen would have flown across the pages fast enough. I was convicted. Encouraged. Loved by the God of the universe.
He would gently remind me of something I needed to embrace fully in my life. Something that I needed to not only accept, but cherish. My role as a mother. My husband. My children. Their diagnoses. Their progress. Their personalities. This special needs journey. Myself. And most importantly, God. My perspective was transformed to the Biblical, rather than the worldly way of doing things that I’d been trying to do unsuccessfully for years.
I don’t know how long I spent on the beach, anxious thoughts stilling, transformation unfolding in my heart. A couple hours. I probably could have spent longer, but it started to rain and I headed toward our lovely beach condo, to where my family was waiting to greet me, to my renewed purpose. For the first time in a long time, I felt alive and happy and at peace and eager to embrace and enjoy the many blessings and even the hard circumstances in my life knowing that God was by my side.
What do you need to embrace this year?
Pray: Dear Lord, I’m sorry for all the times I focus on the circumstances in my life, rather than focusing on you and all my blessings. Help me to let go of any bitterness, anxiety and other negative emotions in my life. Open my eyes and my heart to see your beauty and glory in the blessings and the circumstances in my life, and to be thankful for them. Help me to embrace you and all the good things you have given to me.