Year 4

January 31, 2015

Every Birthday, I write a letter to my son. Here is this year’s:

 

Dear Son,

This fourth year of your life has been hard. Really hard. Hard enough to make your mama’s knees get worn out from praying. Hard enough to make us cry many tears. Hard enough to consume our lives, our minds, our souls, even our bank accounts.

You have been sick.

I remember last year, as the impact of your illness was just beginning to show, my prayer was that by your 4th birthday you would be well. Back to strength. Back to health. Back to ability. But I did not get that prayer. You are still sick. You are still struggling. You are still behind. You still lack ability. Every day I find myself whispering to God to bring you back fully, completely. Every night I am thankful for the small inches of growth given that day. And on nights I have nothing to say thank you for, I simply breathe out prayer for strength to keep moving through this.

When I think of all we have lost, I drown in sorrow. But we have gained things too. We have gained a knowledge of you that I don’t think we would have had without this long illness. We have learned that parenting can so easily become wrapped up tightly in small silly things that drive parents crazy, and we have realized that those things matter so very little in the face of what truly matters. We don’t “sweat the small stuff” and so we rejoice that you drew on your sheets with a marker knowing that a few months earlier you didn’t have the strength in your hands to hold a marker. We don’t get irritated at the stream of jargon from your lips because we know that you could have easily been kept silent forever. There are big things and there are little things, and we don’t waste our stress on the little things. In fact, there’s little margin in the bandwidth of our stress levels to stress the little things. We have to reserve what we have for things that matter.

We have marveled at your delight in life. Even though we know you are missing so much. Even though we compare you to your peers and see how far behind you are. Even then, we marvel at your joy. The big, toothy smile that will cross your lips and the silly snicker when you find something amusing. The ticklish belly and the demands that we not forget to tickle your chin. The way you grasp my fingers in your hands which are growing less chubby with years and walk alongside me. And your strength. Oh, that inner strength in a now 4 year old body that swallows many pills like a champion (without water sometimes) and tolerates eating differently than your classmates.

You have taught us more than we could ever explain.

But we still want you well. And we still believe fully that “he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” We know God has begun the work of healing. In his vast bigness, he has reached into your cells and is gently breathing his life into them. He has visited your muscles and is adding strength and ability to them. He has seen into the places where organisms have lived in chaos and is corralling them back into order.

And that is perhaps the greatest gift of this long, difficult season, little one. Your very life has brought a deeper faith to your mom’s soul. It is not an easy faith. And it is certainly not a simple one. But is something that has been born in me- to trust in God to be faithful to his Word. Not that I didn’t trust it before. But before I don’t think it was a tested faith. Sometimes we must reach a place where we only have despair on one hand and  holding God at his Word on another and we must choose. So I’m trying to take God at his Word for you. Stepping in line with all the other mamas of the Bible who pleaded with God, praying til their tears ran out and their bodies shook, for God to hear them. In good company with the saints before us who learned in the crucible that everything before had not really been faith, that in the crux of pain true belief is born.

Every year I choose a scripture for you. Last year, I asked God to use the passage from Luke 2:52 about Jesus growing in stature and favor with God and other people. A bit unusual, but you will learn as you grow that your mom doesn’t like status quo, the usual, or what everyone else is saying or doing. So I prayed that for you. I prayed with the vision of you coming to complete health. The vision remains to be seen, but God did indeed honor that passage in your life. With the help of a very good doctor and tireless parents, you have regained some strength in your hands, arms, legs, and core. You have had at least 4 growth spurts suddenly in the year. You have been able to relearn language you did not have at this time last year. You have much farther to go, but there is growth in your stature. And favor? Oh, my… everyone loves you. Everyone. People who have never met you love you and pray for you. People who meet you fall in love with you within minutes. Your teachers, your massage therapist, your chiropractor, your therapists, everyone spends just moments in your presence and they just can’t help themselves. I have more people who contact me or stop me or speak to me about you who have never known you. Some of them even I don’t know. You are certainly growing in favor with people.

And with God. I truly believe that God delights in you. I am reminded by many people throughout my conversations that God himself loves you more than me. Which is something I cannot wrap my head around. I’ve tried and I’ve given up because I just can’t think it. How in the world could someone love you more than me? I don’t know. But God does. I believe that God’s favor is being poured out on you, and while I complain to Him that he could fashion his favor differently and speed this stuff up, I know that I know that I know that God hovers over you, creating something out of nothing every single day.

My verse for you this is Philippians 1:6- For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

I am picking this in part for myself, to help me focus my anxious mind on the truth that what God starts he finishes. That delay is not denial. That his goodness is still active and working even in the slow dawning of healing.

So, dear little one, our dreams are slowed and our breaths are held waiting for this coming, this finishing, this mighty act. We wait in anticipation (and sometimes we get mad and quit waiting patiently for the moment) knowing that this story, our story, your story will take the breaths of those who hear it, so they too are left stunned in the sight of a God who can do impossible things.

If there were adequate words for how much I love you, I would speak them. But I can’t because I don’t have words. So I will just settle for the clumsy way and fumble through, trying to tell you and show you how deeply I love you. And hope that God can speak better than I.

Happy Birthday, dearest human on the earth. Year 5 is underway… may we see this healing work finished and God’s gracious work continued. Together.

Love, mama

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