Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Moving Forward

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. Psalm 78:35

Summer. It’s begun full force here in Maryland even though the calendar says it’s almost 20 days away. But my struggle this year is less with the heat than with the changes. It caught me off guard but I really struggled for a few days, missing Peter, and his brother Andrew. As I prayed through it God showed me the root – summer family togetherness.

Being a teacher and off every summer, special times with my boys defined my summer. The past 15 years contained vacations, beach time, carnivals, swimming, cook outs, family visits, roasted marshmallows, smores, patriotic parades, bike rides, walks, day trips - all precious times spent together. Although my husband and I had several things planned, it would never be the same. Plus, as he worked all summer, my empty days would feel even emptier. Already I’d noticed a difference as friends were less available as they too shifted into summer family mode. How would I survive?

All I could do was bring my pain to God. I wondered how much might also be connected with the coming anniversary. June 2nd would not only be 6 months since Peter passed, but also 12 years since our battle with mitochondrial disease began. Early the morning of June 2, 1999 Andrew had his first seizure which forever changed our world. As I brought that to God as well, was this part of the issue, his answer brought a smile to my heart.

Yes, 12 years, but this anniversary the battle’s been won! Mito is defeated in your boys once and for all.

Can I just say, I LOVE THAT!!!! How cool is that? It totally broke all dread of the day. I could now rejoice on June 2nd. It had been redeemed. It no longer would be a day of defeat, but I could stand through it in victory.

As I thought about that, I recognized a pattern God’s helping me understand. Bound in time, dates can become burdens. Anniversaries of life changing, difficult moments make grief flare as we mourn that which was… innocence lost, freedom lost, life forever changed. But our God is a redeemer. Our redeemer lives! And he is teaching me to look for the redemption. Here are some examples from my own life.

February is always a hard month for our family. For some reason the boys always struggled that month. Peter’s seizure disorder started in February. The myoclonus caused Andrew to enter a coma in February that he never came out of. Peter’s GI decline started in February amongst the 3 feet of snow we endured. Of the 12 years we battled mitochondrial disease at least three quarters of the Februarys involved hospitalizations for at least one of the boys. By mid January each year, after just coming out of our favorite holiday season, we already dreaded February.

But this year as we faced our first February without the boys, just difficult memories, a friend prayed via email “that God would give us a new perspective for February.” It took until March but God answered her prayer. While reading Choosing To See, I realized how God had redeemed February. For Peter asked Jesus into his heart in February! February 2, 2002, within a week before his seizure disorder began. Just days before he began battling the overt presentation of mito disease, he gave his life to Jesus. His life was secure even before the battle began. Although that had been the reality for 9 years, I’d never made the connection. Finally I was ready to acknowledge the pain but also look past it for the redemption.

And then there’s August. One of my regrets with Andrew happened in August. Backtrack to August 1998. Andrew turned three and experienced his first kid birthday party. He’d loved the day and I remember tucking him in that night basking in his smiles. His last words that night before he fell asleep: “Today was so great! I can’t wait to turn 4!”

But when Andrew turned 4 he was in an un-intentional drug induced coma. He’d started his battle with mito just two months before. August brought a relapse that built into another mito crash. At the early signs of myoclonus we went into the hospital but there wasn’t anything they could do at the time except let it build. We were discharged the night before his party and had to postpone the party. I’d had no time to prepare and make the party happen. Then the seizures went into status, he was in a coma for days including his birthday, and by the time we got around to celebrating, no friends could come and Andrew refused to celebrate. His devastation crushed my heart. By his 5th birthday he was in a permanent coma state and he never saw 6.

His disappointment haunts me though I had little control over the situation. So August has also been a month of struggle. But as I started pursuing God’s pattern, to look for redemption, I realized that again I had something to celebrate. For during that hospitalization, a week after his birthday, on August 30, 1999, Andrew asked Jesus into his heart. He might not have gotten to celebrate his natural birthday as we all desired, but he got to experience spiritual rebirth! So much more important, I’m forever grateful that even so young, he made his choice.

God challenged me with the same pattern this Mother’s Day. Since Andrew passed, Mother’s Day has always been hard. This year, my first without both of my boys, filled me with dread. We purposely scheduled our time to be away from crowds, away from church, away from friends, away from any reminders of the day or chances something might induce pain. But God challenged me just a few days before to again look for redemption. Through words from my counselor, he revealed a focus for celebration.

Yes, my boys were not with me, but they WERE my boys! I had the chance to be a mother, to experience the relationship so precious between mother and son. I carried my boys, cared for my boys, watched them grow, laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated them. Many women long for the gift of motherhood without fulfillment. God graciously allowed me that gift, even if the timeframe differed from what I preferred.

In turning to God in my pain, he helps me find the root, the loss that must be acknowledged. Once I recognize the loss, I can acknowledge it, and in a sense accept it. If I stuff or deny the pain, it just eats me up inside and manifests in other ways. But if I only focus on the pain, it overwhelms me. It’s when I accept God’s grace for the pain that I can search for the redemption. That’s when balance is achieved, feeling the pain and joy at the same time. I acknowledge the pain while allowing the joy of the redemption to keep me anchored.

As to this summer, I recognize that our family moments are forever changed. I accept that as my natural reality. But I know there is a spiritual reality of redemption waiting to be discovered. I know this summer will be different, but it will also be good. Stay tuned for a redemption report this fall! :O)

No comments:

Post a Comment