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My Awkward Faith

We fight for the things we know to fight for

and wait for the fruit of that battle to manifest itself.

I didn’t just start advocating for children after our son, Robert, passed away. I have been fighting for children for more than 20 years either on nonprofit boards serving children with disabilities or through family support groups serving those caring for a child or youth with a disability. I am not uplifting myself but giving context to what I am writing today.

The tragedy that occurred in Uvalde, Texas in May cut me to my core. For the families that lost a child, a grandchild, a sister, a brother, a cousin, a niece, a nephew, a teacher, a wife, a parent, or a best friend: our hearts and prayers are with you there. And for the families that will now be faced with caring for their child who survived but with injuries altering their lives — physically and emotionally — my thoughts turn especially towards you. I know this new life of caregiving is not what you asked for, and it is not fair. We have all been altered in some way from seeing your community suffer. Let me say right now … we must do better as a country to protect our citizens!

Some of you will hold your injured child in your arms and we, as a community, will support you in whatever way we can. I offer this blog post as a mom who has looked back over the unfairness of life and has seen beauty in the ashes and fruit emerge from the lifeless ground. It will take time. It will take courage. It will take whatever small grain of faith you can muster.

My faith keeps changing from day to day, begging to produce more fruit. Can my heart extend forgiveness? Can my life offer wisdom or encouragement? My faith leads me down winding roads that swerve abruptly avoiding questions that only time will resolve. I desire that my life on this tragic road will produce something that touches lives and extends God’s grace. But does it … will it?

Many of my questions about God’s goodness have been resolved in my mind since Robert’s passing with the great counsel of my husband and my incredible circle of Christian girlfriends who extend me grace as I walk this road. There are still lingering thoughts that may never be settled, though. When those wash across my mind, I can now try to let them wash right back out to a distant shore. I ponder them, but I do not let them swirl around in my head. I let God have them. Being truthful and embracing how I feel does not require me to hold onto those agonizing questions.

In the Bible, James 1:2 states that I should consider it pure joy whenever I face trials of every kind because I know that the testing of my faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must have its way in me so that I will be perfect, not lacking anything. But on the hard days, I still need to push myself before I can even consider whatever this “IT” is, to be pure joy.

In his book, A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis writes:

If a mother is mourning, not for what she has lost, but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing: that she may still hope to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. A comfort to the God-aimed eternal spirit within her, but not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never in any place or time will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future or see her grandchild.

On May 29, 2016, I had an “IT” day to consider my God as trustworthy and loving. My low was very low that day. It was a Sunday, and most Sundays had been my favorite days with Robert. I usually had him all to myself early in the mornings to bathe him and then watch him take a nap cuddled up in a blanket on our bedroom floor. He loved his quiet music as he slept.

So many memories of Robert’s life collide with the empty house, now. But on that Sunday in May, I dared to ask God for a sign to show me that my new life was worth living … that what I was doing here without caring for Robert was really worthwhile. Miraculously and totally unannounced, He sent a couple to our house that day who answered that deep prayer.

I had met this family a few years ago in a hospital where we exchanged information about our boys. We shared very easily our frustrations, solutions and minor triumphs in managing our own expectations and continuing care for our sons. I felt very comfortable inviting them to dinner in our home where we shared additional information about our walk with Robert.

As I remember now, the four adults were able to talk openly for hours that evening. We ate at our dining room table as our boys were seated side by side in their wheelchairs in the adjoining family room watching one of Robert’s favorite movies. I remember thinking how foreign it was that Robert had a friend over for a play date! Rare.

Now several years later, this same couple came into our music room and we shared our hearts once again. We learned that both of our families were grieving the loss of our sons. I was immediately struck by the candid conversation we entered into as is often the case when we meet families caring for a child with disabilities. It was as if we had not missed a beat.

This couple was mourning but they told us openly that the information we had given them during that first encounter enabled them to care for their precious son at home through many difficult years. The things we shared with them at our dining room table that evening had made a difference in the quality of life for their family. They were also able to help other families by passing on that information. They were my answer to prayer that Sunday.

Just when I feared that the life I was now living was amounting to very little, I was encouraged to know that fighting for Robert’s care and passing that information on to others had impacted a child’s quality of life. We say we want to make a difference on this earth. I was humbled in my Sunday mourning to hear that at least in one other child’s life, I had done just that. I considered “IT” pure joy. On my very low Sunday morning, I allowed perseverance to have its way so that I could be complete, not lacking anything.

My battle for Robert ended February 6, 2015. On May 29, 2016, fruit from that battle manifested itself. It was my Robert harvest.

I am growing in my, sometimes, awkward faith, and I am still looking for more fruit from my battle. I pray you will reap a harvest one day, too. Keep fighting and counting what you are doing as worth it in the battle … even if it seems you are fighting for the next child.

Listening Library: Tell Your Heart To Beat Again (Danny Gokey)

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody!(Psalm 57:7 ESV)

Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

You're shattered Like you've never been before The life you knew In a thousand pieces on the floor And words fall short in times like these When this world drives you to your knees You think you're never gonna get back To the you that used to be

Tell your heart to beat again Close your eyes and breathe it in Let the shadows fall away Step into the light of grace Yesterday's a closing door You don't live there anymore Say goodbye to where you've been And tell your heart to beat again

Beginning Just let that word wash over you It's alright now Love's healing hands have pulled you through So get back up, take step one Leave the darkness, feel the sun 'Cause your story's far from over And your journey's just begun

Tell your heart to beat again Close your eyes and breathe it in Let the shadows fall away Step into the light of grace Yesterday's a closing door You don't live there anymore Say goodbye to where you've been And tell your heart to beat again

Let every heartbreak And every scar Be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far 'Cause love sees farther than you ever could In this moment heaven's working Everything for your good

Tell your heart to beat again Close your eyes and breathe it in Let the shadows fall away Step into the light of grace Yesterday's a closing door You don't live there anymore Say goodbye to where you've been And tell your heart to beat again Your heart to beat again Beat again

Oh, so tell your heart to beat again

Songwriters: Bernie Herms / Matthew West / Randy Phillips

Tell Your Heart to Beat Again lyrics © Capitol CMG Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc

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