Finding Joy In The Journey

Finding Joy In The Journey
originally written February 2013

I wrote yesterday about Adoption Fantasy vs. Adoption Reality. <—linked

Today, I’d like to follow up that post by sharing some personal experiences.  Aus and Co. commented on that post and hit the nail on the head!  Sometimes the “wheels fall off  the wagon for no apparent reason”….. and we are caught off guard.
I have two distinct stories to share from two different time periods in my life, so bear with me, as I am getting rather…. old. LOL

(This picture was taken at about 5 days old in 1981.  At 16 days old things got MUCH worse, and he was down to 2lbs. 14 oz.)

When our second son  was born, I had never really entered the world of Special Needs children.  I never really KNEW anybody who had special needs as a child, except one little boy who was deaf.  I was far removed from the reality that God was about to PLUNGE ME INTO!
He had a DIFFERENT STORY for me!  It was a story of sorrow and suffering, but ONLY to bring about GREAT GOOD  and joy in my life.
Just like Much Afraid in the allegorical book, “Hind’s Feet on High Places”, which I HIGHLY recommend, he gave me 2 friends…. “sorrow and suffering”….
ONLY when I LEARNED TO EMBRACE THEM, did I find that what God was REALLY trying to do in my life was bring me CLOSER to HIM and cause me GREAT JOY! GREATER than I could have EVER known, had I not walked that LONELY, SCARY PATH!

I say LONELY, because I walked it, very much ALONE.
I was rather isolated, and there was not much support.  In fact, even one of my own parent questioned me as to whether I “ate right”, blaming me  for my sons premature birth.
We were poor, living with family, something I NEVER thought I’d have to do again…. and I was all of Twenty -Two!
I felt, KNEW that everybody thought my life was a mess, and when I called the pastor of the church we were attending, I could sense his “uncomfortableness” with my questions.  It was like he couldn’t wait to get off the phone, because I didn’t fit into his “false theology”. In fact, he never called me, offered words of comfort or even visited the hospital where I spent 5 hours a day and  4 hours a night, 7 days a week.

The DAY after our son had the massive Hemorrhage that we were  told would kill him, after the gut wrenching talk with our Neonatologist, I was weak and trembling.  I had asked for a week to think, before we removed him from life support, and it was granted.  2 brain activity tests were to be done. I watched part of one of them. It was unbearable for me inside, but I wasn’t allowed to fall apart.  I wasn’t allowed to.
The next day, I did just that. I couldn’t stop crying, so I stayed alone, and wept and cried out to the Lord, hugging my 2 year old son.  He had no idea what was going on in my heart.  But His comfort was palpable.
I stayed home from the hospital for the first time that day. I had been there EVERY DAY, day AND night to hold my son’s hand, soothe him, make sure he heard my voice….. but I was told he was gone.
He was just a shell.

On the day I stayed home, at around 11:30 A.M. , I got a phone call. It was one of the female Neonatologists.  She was really a nice lady. She noticed I wasn’t there.  When I came to the phone she asked me, “Why aren’t you here?”  I burst into tears.  “I can’t do it.  I can’t come!”
In no uncertain terms she told me, “YES YOU CAN! YOU MUST! YOUR SON NEEDS YOU MORE THAN EVER TODAY! YOU MUST COME!”
I appreciated her REBUKE to me so very much.  It wasn’t about me, it was about HIM!
She understood my pain, but walked me through it to the other side…. YOUR SON NEEDS YOU MORE THAN EVER NOW! resounded in my heart.   YES… HE DOES…. WHAT AM I THINKING!  There is no time to feel sorry or wallow in self pity…. MY SON NEEDS ME!
So, I pulled myself together, and drove to the hospital, full of fear, anxiety and loneliness, but at the same time, holding the very hand of God.

Those life lessons have molded and shaped me over the years through many more trials.

We have 2 choices in life…. Embrace it and walk with God, or Hide from it and be destroyed.  Why choose bitterness?  Why choose self pity? It is an AWFUL WASTE OF TIME!
I choose the first. It is much more exciting! 🙂

As our son miraculously survived, and God answered my personal prayers…. that he would KNOW he was alive and to WHOM he could worship, it was very apparent, that God had chosen for us to continue down the path of raising a very special child.
He was the ONLY child I knew who was “handicapped”.
It was that way for YEARS.  He was the only one at church. He was the only one who had Cerebral palsy.  He was the only one who had brain damage.
When he was 3, he attended a special needs pre school for a short time, and that was the first time I saw other children who had physical disabilities besides my own son.
2 more babies later, both born prematurely….. I found myself alone again…. I was already alone, but this time, ABANDONED alone.  I was now a single mother. Oh LORD how that hurt.
Had it not been for my precious Mama Dabba, my mother in law, I do not know what I would have done.  The Lord provided her in my life at the perfect time.  I love her so.
We went through surgeries and recoveries that were gut wrenching.  And eventually, my son began to walk.

FAST FORWARD MANY YEARS…..
All of my boys were in college or married.  In fact, we had 4 weddings and an adoption in 2 years time!
We had taken Miss Sweetie 1 to a really fun party.  It was the Annual Reformation Party where there are all sorts of friends that we sometimes see only once a year, AT THAT PARTY!  She had been home for nearly a year, and was doing really well, except when she wasn’t. LOL
She had looked forward to this event all week, and the day came.  She was not quite 6 years old.
That night, was so special.  I watched her run around with other little girls, playing HARD and just being a KID.  It was the first time I had ever seen her really RELAX and not be nervous.  She had a GREAT TIME!
The time came to go home, and she was ready.  We did the typical transition change. We are going to be leaving in 10 minutes, then 5, then 2, then it is time to leave.  She said her goodbyes to her new beloved friends and hopped in the car.
On the way home, she began to kick the back seats and scream, “I HATED IT! I DIDN’T LIKE THOSE PEOPLE!” “I DIDN’T LIKE MY FRIENDS!” “I HATED THAT PARTY!”

It caught us a little off guard.  As Aus and Co. would say, “The wheels fell off the wagon for no apparent reason!”
BUT BACK UP….. THERE WAS A REASON!  And thankfully the Lord revealed this to us.
Our Sweetie 1 had become VULNERABLE!  She had allowed her guard down and it scared her to death!
She was working VERY HARD, OVERLY HARD to put it back up.  But it wasn’t working.
These times, when our children seem to be going 3 steps back…… they are getting ready to LUNGE forward.  We can either facilitate the 3 steps back by saying something ridiculous like, “because you kicked the seats you are in time out”…….OR….. We can see what is really happening and nurture our children to wholeness!
We brought our little Sweetie 1 into the house and immediately headed for the rocking chair.
It was in that moment that we held her and listened and then spoke words of love into her.  “You DESERVE to have a party and have fun!  You deserved to have fun with your friends!  It was OK for you to run and laugh and play and I loved seeing you having so much fun!”

The result of that conversation?  Our little one collapsed into a pile of healing sobs.  “I really did like it mommy!”  “I really do like those people!” “I’m sorry!”
I know.  I know sweetie. It’s ok.  I love you….. I LOVE YOU…..
I rocked her into a deep sleep, praying and singing over her.

Each of our children have had hard times, and come from very hard places in life.  It has been a special JOY, a DEEP ABIDING JOY to help them find the path…. and to embrace JOY in their journey… holding on to the Lord for LIFE.

I would not trade the hardships I have faced in this life for anything…. because through them, the LORD has brought me to a place of GREAT JOY in HIM.  HE is all that matters, and I trust that HE is the AUTHOR of my life.  HE is the great weaver, the great story teller, the GREAT I AM.
And it is for HIS GLORY that we live.

In the End, Sorrow and Suffering turn into Gladness and Joy!

Comments warmly welcomed!

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