“Honey, you have every reason to cry. Crying don’t mean you’ve given up and it don’t mean God has left you or that little boy of yours neither.” These words, spoken to me by a kind, elderly, cleaning lady on one of the darkest of days, embedded themselves deep in my memory and in my heart. I was hiding in the ladies room desperately trying to regain my composure after our first visit to the rehabilitation floor of the hospital. My five-year-old son lay unconscious in ICU – still comatose after having suffered severe brain damage from lack of oxygen. My eyes had just been abruptly opened to a whole new world – a world I had never imagined might exist for my son or for our family. It was a world to which I had never been exposed and barely knew existed – a world where brain damage was a reality.
Her words brought on an onslaught of fresh tears, but they also surprised me; I realized that there was some truth to them. By refusing to let myself cry or even acknowledge that Justin’s situation looked grim, I was desperately trying to hold on to my faith. I would remember them again several years later when I once more surrendered myself to tears after realizing that there were no other options for seizure control other than to put Justin on a medication that would lower his tone and reduce what little muscle control and movement he had – a medication that might bring an end to standing and weight bearing and my fading hope that he might someday use a communication switch.
My tears were a crumpling of my faith. They were not the first – this crumpling of faith was a long, slow, process – but they were another major crease. However, as I surrendered that broken and crumpled faith – when I let go and quit trying to heal Justin by my own efforts and quit thinking God would surely use my efforts to work a miracle in Justin’s life- God once more touched the wound in my heart with His healing hand. Those tears momentarily cleared my vision that was and is so often clouded with self and sin. I could see that I was still trying to heal my son, still trying to save him, …still trying to save myself. My faith that was crumbling was just that – MY faith – conjured up from my own efforts to envision God’s will for my life and the life of my child. In a prayer of repentance, I asked the Lord to grant me faith to believe in a sovereign God who loved us both and faith to surrender my life and the life of my son to His hands. It was a prayer for faith that was not my own – a prayer for faith that could only be granted and not willed of my own accord.
Later we called that seizure medication – that last available option – Justin’s ‘happy pill’ because it not only helped to control his seizures, but it also drastically improved his disposition. I would have never known how Justin’s contentment added to my own if I had not been forced to make those medication changes. Not only was I compelled to slowly surrender my faith and my will that day, but I was also slowly surrendering my joy – or what I perceived would bring me joy. And as my fingers were pried from those things to which I clung, I found they were open to receive those things that are far better.