Yesterday, I took Anne to the Orthopedic Surgeon. “How’s she doing,” he asked. I found myself replying calmly, “Her hips are tight. Her windswept gait is exaggerated. The ligaments in her knees are less stable. And she needs an additional brace on her left leg to provide support.”
Two years ago, Anne began growing, her body began changing, and all of the physical progress she had made in therapy began dwindling away. I also started panicking. I blamed myself, took on guilt and retreated into sadness. Two years later, I now know that it was all the effects of puberty. It had nothing to do with me or Anne’s effort. I want to go back to my past self and tell that girl to calm down and stop over-reacting!
Wouldn’t it be nice to get a visit from our future selves every now and then? I would go back just a few months and tell myself not to worry so much over Anne’s “meanness.” Now I know that it was just her response to the HUGE change of starting a new school. She’s back to her old self – sometimes mean but mostly sweet.
I think if we got regular visits from our future selves, the message would consistently be to stop worrying so much and enjoy the life God has given us to live right now. Especially in the wake of such horrible tragedies – this present might be the last present we enjoy this side of heaven.
So as I rambled off Anne’s list of regressions to her orthopedic surgeon, I chose not to freak out. It’s just a phase. Puberty will end. Growth spurts will cease. There will be an opportunity to rebuild strength. …Maybe my future self just came for a visit ;)
Anne’s turned mean. And it’s breaking my heart.
My rational mind knows that she’s almost 13 with rushing hormones. She’s angry that she can’t walk. She’s angry that she can’t get herself water when she’s thirsty. She’s just angry. There’s no parenting manual for shepherding a brain-injured child through the tumultuous teen years! Anne’s new school schedule is making it worse. Again, I understand. Change isn’t easy. But every time Anne spews angry words my heart twists.
Why? Why am I so broken by Anne’s anger?
Because I’ve told myself that God is redeeming Anne’s brain injury by shining his character through her life. Her simple child-like faith, her kindness, her joy – they all point to Jesus. So when her beautiful spirit is spoiled by anger, my heart fills with doubt.
Is God still good? Is he still working through Anne? Will he continue to use our family to reveal his redemptive ways? Is he still faithful?
Oh, how faith crumbles when we look to temporary circumstances instead of his eternal Word. I read Psalm 84 this morning and was struck by the imagery of God’s goodness pouring down on his people. I wept. And prayed for eyes to see God’s goodness pour down.
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Patience. I need more of it. Don’t we all? I
Four years ago, after Anne finished a fantastic round of her three-week intensive therapy, I had grand visions of Anne practicing her walking in the pool. I imagined us happy and carefree, using the pool’s buoyancy to help support her as she exercised her muscles in a fun, relaxing way.
Our first trip to the pool, I confidently held her on my hip and started to carry her into the water. As soon as Anne’s toes hit the water, she screamed, “The water is too cold. Get me out. Get me OUT!!” That summer, I forced her to walk a few “laps” in the pool before I got her out. She has refused to enter the pool for the last three summers. Until…TODAY!
As I was sitting next to Anne on the side of the pool (she likes to fill and empty a solo cup with pool water) she looked up at me and said, “Mom, I want to get in the pool.”
I’ve heard this before. I go to pick her up, and she screams, so I put her back on the side of the pool, and she goes back to contently playing with her solo cup. But not today. She let me carry her into the pool, slip her body down into the water, and most amazingly, allowed her big brother to teach her how to use a float.
Anne kicked, walked, floated and played all over the pool today. It took four years, but my grand visions have come to life. Anne was telling everyone in the pool, “It’s a miracle!” (We got some strange looks!)
God works in His own time. Our job is to wait. And in the waiting… to not lose hope.
Things I find myself saying…
I don’t want to play Candyland.
Ok, I’ll play Candyland.
No more Candyland!
Anne, please don’t throw that.
Anne, get my hair out of your mouth.
I love you too, Anne.
Sound it out…good reading!
Anne, be kind to your sister.
Yes, I’ll read you one more book.
Summers stretch me. I constantly have to put my own wants and desires aside. It’s a consistent “dying to self.”
I also find myself vacillating between discouragement and joy. Spending so much time with Anne puts me face to face with all of her delays and challenges. She is dependent for every bath and every meal. She can’t dress herself, brush her own teeth, or get herself to the bathroom. Caring for her is exhausting, and I worry that I won’t be able to outlive her. Worrying about the future is just as exhausting as caring for her in the present. I’m constantly having to pray for God to help me lay aside the anxiety.
There is also joy in caring for Anne. I love her crooked smiles, her simple faith, and the freedom she has to express her heart. God fills me as I spend time with Anne. It’s a paradox. Die to self and God fills you up. I don’t understand it. But occasionally, I get to live it.
Anne goes to a new overnight camp in a few days. Again, I’m struggling with worry. Will they care for her well? Will she have angry outbursts? Will they respond to her with kindness? What if? What if? What if?
I’m not a worrier by nature, so anxiety feels like an unwelcome guest. I pray for God to give me his peace. He is sovereign. He is good. That is enough. It has to be.
Anne finishing a book!
Playing with Snapchat
Another silly Snapchat pic :)