Once a week this summer I get to hang out and play with my cousin’s three little kids. It’s super fun for my two younger boys, and for me. I have an excuse to do things like make chocolate chip cookies at 9:30 in the morning, watch The Muppets (is there a better musical number than Life’s a Happy Song?), and sit in the morning shade in my backyard watching little people bounce, climb, dig, and slide. We have a good time.
I find myself getting introspective watching the seven, five, and one-year-old play on the same playset where I pushed Jack eight million times on the tire swing and jumped with him daily on the trampoline, which actually looked like him sitting and allowing me to bounce him. He’s an unabashed slacker.
When we moved to this house, Henry was three and Jack was one. They were tiny and I was young and quite stupid, or at least naive and untested. I remember my constant anxiety, about all the projects I wanted to do on our house, about Jack’s development, about his public temper tantrums, about trying to project a sense of calm collected-ness, though inside I felt anything but calm.
Those days were challenging because we hadn’t figured out the extent of Jack’s disabilities and differences (or recognized and treated my own anxiety). I was still trying to maintain “regular family” expectations, with not great results. I had not yet learned that acceptance of all of it, even the dross, really is the quickest way to peace and progress.
I recognized two things today, while chilling in peaceful backyard with the kiddos:
- So much of my young parent angst resulted from fearing for Jack’s future, and my future.
As I watched my cousin’s little boy today, who also has a rare syndrome, climb and run around, I thought about how his path is special but not impossible. God has a plan for him, just like he always has for Jack, even when I couldn’t see it. It will be unique and different. Special, because he is. Which leads to the second realization…
2. My life changed when I figured out that God will always help us find a way.
I hadn’t really believed it prior to my non-ironic spiritual journey during the spring of 2016. But that journey turned out to be life-changing, particularly as it taught me that God isn’t watching me with disappointment, shaking his head and impatiently tapping his feet as he waits for me to figure out life. He is watching me with love, waiting for me to humble myself, believe, and ask for help, which he wants to give me. My life got really good once I learned this. I feel like the previous sentence should be written in blinking neon lights. I put Jack and my despondency and our hopeless family dynamic on the altar and gave it all to Jesus. And he took it, and turned (as my bosom friend Marla says) “rocks into gold.” He made the boulders of my life’s hardships into pure gold. He did this for me, and it still blows me away.