Sunday, February 24, 2013

When Suffering Moves In to Stay

Our older two kids are not kids anymore. They are both married and out on their own. We know people who when their kids grow up move on with their lives, and aren't really involved with their children's world anymore. Our situation couldn't be farther from that. Both our older kids live within a few miles of us and we get together as often as we can. Between 5 kids, their spouses, grandkids, in-laws, and cousins it seems that it's always someone's birthday, a holiday (we make it a point to all celebrate), sports event, vacation and sometimes sad to say, an illness that calls us all together. Our little girls and our grandkids are really more like siblings than aunts to niece and nephew. We absolutely LOVE it but it can get a little (ok...alot) of crazy. A normal 'family' dinner with all of us can be around 20 people. We make it work and love doing it!
     So what happens when tragedy strikes a family? This family? Many of you out there are fighting battles and have your own tales of suffering. Sickness and long-term illnesses bring a whole new dimension to our walk on this planet and turn daily life into a constant struggle to achieve normalcy. What do you do when you are told your normal is gone forever? Now you must adjust to this new normal..... and not complain.....wonder what you did wrong......and keep fighting....and not complain.....and try to do whatever this new normal looks like.....and be in constant pain.....and not complain.....and work a full-time job because there's a family to support......and not complain....try and keep your sense of humor.....wondering if you are going to make it and not crumble....all while not complaining. (Not so worried about being grammatically correct here as long as you get the point). Our son J is in such a fight. Suffering moved in and set up camp...poised and ready to stay a while. He was diagnosed two years ago with severe Crohn's disease (there's no cure) and recently had major back surgery to repair two herniated discs. He's only 28. This came out of nowhere. Suffering. That's supposed to be for other people that write those inspirational articles you read in magazines at the dentist. Not us. Not at 28. It wasn't supposed to be like this. Seeing your child hurt like this was not in our life game plan. Suddenly things that seemed so important are not so important anymore. Your perspective on this life here on earth changes. Ours has.
      I think when you are first blindsided with devastating news it's human nature to grieve, retreat, have some self-pity and then if you have an ounce of strength left, pull yourself up by your boot-straps and fight back. This is what J has chosen to do....all while learning a few lessons along the way. As with any and all trials and sufferings, it's how you deal with what God asks of you. None of us would have ever asked for this....not a long-term incurable illness at 28 years old that would make you age beyond your years, limit your diet and activities for the rest of your life. What he has learned is that when you suffer, you are not alone. Never. Ever. Alone. (all you grammar people don't judge.....) And our family has pulled together to fight with him.....cause that's what you do when one of yours is hurting. We're here for the long haul. One of our family jokes is 'who would've ever thought the Mom and Dad (me and the Doc) would be reversing the roles usually played by parents\children and finding ourselves the strong ones? The ones whose backs are called in to move furniture and do the heavy lifting? That's the funny in this otherwise dark game.
      So what do you do when suffering moves in to stay? You go to the one who offers the only hope we have. God. Holy Father God, who told us in the book of John, "in this life you will have trouble." No one thought it would come like this. Trouble is not supposed to look like this when you are in your 20's and are just starting your career full-swing, getting married and having babies, did. It's here and he's found the balance between fighting back while drawing near to the source of all hope and comfort. You can read his entire story here. I pray his story offers others the same solace and hope that he has found because no matter what your trial, no matter what your pain, you are never, ever alone. Finding the circles of blessings during difficulty, enduring simply because our God has asked you to, drawing ever nearer to the one who knows the end of the story.....that's countering suffering head on. Enjoy the story of this remarkable son.

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