My daughter will turn 8 this week. Walking down the memory lane of these past 8 years, I have been thinking that I have come a long way in raising a special child. A few months right after her birth, when her unexpected diagnosis hit us hard, I had no idea of how I was going to survive. But I did, she did and we as a family did. In one of the early years of her diagnosis, I remember saying to my husband that I didn’t want to live. The time was so disheartening and the situation was so unbearable.
The most painful and helpless time in a Mother’s life is to see her child suffer continuously and without any end in sight. It’s emotionally and physically challenging. The pain crushes your heart every single day and the worst of all is, you just can’t walk away from it. I still remember the moment, when she was born. My mother and my husband were literally crying out of happiness. The nurses were puzzled as they thought, they were unhappy with the birth of a girl child. Little did anyone of us know, that in a few months’ time the tears of gladness would turn into tears of grief.
I wonder, if she was a normal child, how would she look being an 8- year old girl today? What would she say? What sort of thoughts and ideas would she have? By now, she would be of the age to demand her wishes, likes, and dislikes. Probably, she would choose her birthday dress, and even admire herself in front of the mirror. She would be in grade 3 and would have a lot of questions for me just like her brother does. But the reality of her life is far different than we could have ever imagined in our wildest dream. All we have is her presence with us but not her relationship, her voice, her sight, her thoughts, her feelings, her demands, her laughter, her hugs, and her touch.
Before she was born, I used to admire little girls in pretty frocks. And I so wished I had a girl child. And I still admire little girls but now I see Jennie in them. I hate to admit but sometimes I also feel injustice done to her. Why couldn’t she be like other kids? Why can’t my son have his sister to play with? Why can’t she simply enjoy her childhood? The forever unanswered questions will remain and I may not have them answered on this side of heaven.
Life moves on. Tears, prayers, hopes, heartaches…repeat – this has been my life’s pattern for these many years. I have survived it. There were questions about the validity of my faith. I survived them. There were endless sleepless nights and tiring days. I survived them. There have been loneliness, anger, suicidal thoughts, and despairs. I survived them. There were judgments, criticisms, stares, and mockery for the challenges we face. I survived them. Knowingly, unknowingly or maybe on purpose, I isolated myself from people. And being almost all alone on this different path, I survived it. By falling, rising, moving, and enduring, I have come a long way…
But it doesn’t matter how far I have come, how much I have faced, or how much I have endured. What matters most, is who has brought me this far? Who has walked before me? Who has given me the strength to withstand? Who has picked me up and carried me in the valley of sorrows?
When we look back, we are tempted to focus much on the amount and intensity of our pain and how long we have endured it, often overlooking who was with us in the journey of our hardships.
In life’s unexpected storm and in the lonely paths, God walks through them all with us.
How far we have come in facing life’s storms, isn’t about our strengths but His alone. Because the more we follow Him, the farther we can go. His strength reflects through our endurance and our faith in Him. Our glory in Him outweighs our momentary pains. As our battles on earth are never ours to fight alone. They belong to God. He is victorious and so we are in Him.
A few months back, I received a book named “New in the Middle – facing hardship and moving forward” as a gift, which was sent to me by my friend Sarah Jose. She is the author of the book. It’s a book about her life journey through physical disability, chronic pain, loss, hard questions, faith, healing of her soul, and the newness of her life’s meaning and purpose. Through her brilliant artwork, she shares a profound message through the book. The title says it all – Facing hardships and moving forward.
In this gift, there was a small note written for me which reads – ” Elizabeth, you are a hero! I know you don’t always feel like one. None of us do. This book is written for friends like you who are living well despite many challenges. Keep moving forward! – Love, Sarah
I have always thought a hero or a champion is someone who always overcomes, who is always a winner, and definitely not someone like me who falls many times. But over time, I realized that triumph doesn’t mean never falling but rising up after each fall. Having faith in God doesn’t cancel our sufferings instantly but it gives us strength to keep going. Our pain becomes our greatest strength in His kingdom. Sometimes, our biggest victory isn’t about overcoming but withstanding and moving ahead. In this context, moving ahead in our faith in God despite the challenges of life, believing in His Word over the negative voices, doubts, and even the unexplainable circumstances, focusing on Him rather than focusing on the trials, seeing our pain in the light of His glory, and choosing His relationship over the benefits of it.
How far we have come and how far we can go always depends on how far we will follow Jesus. The farther we follow Him, the farther we can go. Sometimes, following Him means carrying our crosses alongside but the journey will be worth it.
How far have you come?