Tuesday, January 10, 2017

When Your Chronic Kid Dreams Big Dreams

Image courtesy of surasakiStock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Every child of every ability has dreams--fantasies of saving the world, touching the stars, or thoughts of dousing house fires or catching criminals in their adult years. I've had my own fickle dreams, both fantastic and realistic, but there is one that has really stuck with me through the years. More than seeing the sights of the planet, I've had a great desire to explore the vast array of cultures and people which God has spread across the globe; a desire to learn new perspectives and to share love and trust with those outside of my bubble of American life.

I never thought I could attain this dream in my college years, however--there would be too much paperwork and too much educational commitment--that is, until one of my University of Wisconsin friends convinced me otherwise. In her first year of college she, a somewhat reserved individual, was already planning to spend a summer, and later a year, studying in Japan. She explained that she had the same fears as I had, but that this is the best time of your life to achieve these big dreams, while you are surrounded by the wealth of resources that schools give you as a student. She emphasized that, with the right amount of time and thorough planning, anything is possible for anybody. Her words resonated with me, and after meeting many foreign students at my college the following year, I was confident that I wanted to follow my dreams and spend time studying in Japan as well.

In my second semester of college, though, I had to face a tough question: What happens to our dreams when medical crises occur? 

Back in February I was diagnosed with a heart condition that can send me spiraling to a hospital without warning; that following summer, I began treatment for a chronic skin condition as well which, along with my heart disorder, completely altered my diet, excluding quite a few foods that would be strenuous to avoid in Asia, let alone at home.

My dreams of studying abroad were now quite the challenge to face, and whirlwinds of questions and worry would bombard my mind daily: "What if I can't avoid these foods? What if the skin condition comes back? What if I run out of medicine? What if I have to go to the hospital abroad? What will I do if my parents are far away when I need them?"

What if? What if? What if? My body and my way of life were suddenly changing after one medical emergency and I wasn't prepared for all of the "what if's."

With each new health crisis in my home, this overwhelming unpreparedness for the future becomes a common emotion for my siblings and I, as it must be for many other people with disorders and special needs. But the key to overcoming fear of the future is not simply found in ourselves: it's found in the Word.

In Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) , it says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
And in Colossians 4:2 (NLT), the Word says, "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart."

Each of us experience these worries about ourselves or our families. When we experience the fear of the "what if's" to come, the Lord calls on us to give those worries to God. Ask Him to be your provider. Be thankful for each circumstance He has brought to us because each circumstance in itself leads to blessing. When you bring your troubles, He brings peace. From these verses, God also encourages us to be devoted and alert, or prepared, when worries or circumstances come.

Perhaps when yourself or your child are troubled about how health concerns will deter their dreams outside of the home, pray to God that He may pave the way for preparedness for you and your child. 

  • Make visual, electronic lists of all of the foods or medicines they cannot have so as to provide a handy tool for your child to have at the ready.
  • Talk with them about what will happen in an emergency--what facility or place will they go to, who will be there with them, or even how their insurance works.
  • Direct them on how to manage money in the event that a medical emergency occurs while they are away from the home.
  • Teach them how to advocate for themselves to their doctors, counselors, employers, etc.
  • Guide them on where to look in God's Word when they are concerned or in crisis, and teach them to lean into God and His understanding when the "what if's" circle their minds.
Despite my own diagnoses, I am still preparing to study and live in Japan for a whole year, but overcoming my concerns about the future could only have been done through clear and thoughtful preparation for every worry and thought, and through trust that God will be my greatest shield and sword when the armies of the "what if's" try to drag me off course. 

Pray: When worry strikes me and I fear what may be in the future, Lord, help me to always look to You for guidance and comfort. In Your wise ways, You will always provide peace and answers, even when the unexpected comes. Help me to know and value that. Speak through me as I guide my child into their future, and help my child to trust in you, no matter what their "what if's" may be. Amen.

 ~Alexandra Dittrich

1 comment:

  1. So excited for you. I love adventure and look forward to hearing all about your study abroad! Praying God will continue to show you the way to go and you will continue to put your trust in him one step at a time!