Your misery, in the path of obedience, is producing a peculiar glory-Piper

Yesterday, I saw a child lying on the ground during recess. I stopped walking past and waited. Children are swirling around him playing, does anyone see what I see? 

My first thought is to rush towards him to his aide. He could be having a seizure or passed out or fell down from the gap in the suspension bridge and not breathing. Why isn't anyone rushing towards him?

He moves and I exhale and realize not all children laying still are like mine.

This happens constantly. I can jump into adrenaline powered, get to business, take no prisoners mode like I went to school for it. I majored in Emergency Action Response. Well, I really majored in Art, but this feels more real than a paintbrush can do in this moment. 

It haunts me. 

IMG_0142.jpg

I see disaster around every corner. I see all the sharp corners, backless barstools, possible tripping hazards and potential life altering scenarios. Every moment of every day, I have to choose to ignore the arrows pointing towards these death traps. I am also constantly aware that at any moment, life could be completely changed by ones of these named things or something that I haven't possibly considered. But I know it's there. 

Trauma just waiting to happen.

I was not like this before I had my own child who required 24 hour care. Yes, I was over protective and a helicopter parent but only because I was so incredibly enamored with my son that I wanted to participate in every single moment. Not because I thought we would only have 3 1/2 years of "normal" bliss with him. 

I wish I could say that I revel in our sweet memories more than the bad but that just isn't true. Those last two years of his life and the intense state of emergency that we lived in, are always looming in the background of my mind. 

I ignore it. I push it back. I tell myself that I am fine and that my second child is not my first child. That what happened to his brother won't happen to him. 

I tell myself that when I see children doing things that are extremely dangerous and their parents think its no big deal, that I am over reacting and to chill out. 

But I fear for them and what could possibly happen.  I seriously have to turn the other way so as not to experience the rush of traumatic possibility that could unfold at any moment.

I know I didn't cause my child's immune system to attack his brain. I know it was something that just happened based on his genetic makeup. But it is still so hard not to put blame on other things that could have contributed.

If you have lost a child or loved one, than I am assuming you go through these scenarios too. Especially if you lost them suddenly. I know that most people don't understand and think that I am crazy and hyper sensitive. 

The most reassuring thing that I have heard over this past year after my son passed away, was that I could be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress. PTSD is something that is triggered by a terrifying event that can lead to anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. Um, yes but no way, not me.

Of course, at first, I thought this was ridiculous. Isn't this what soldiers have after war? I haven't been to war. But then the more I processed this, it was exactly what I was experiencing. 

A delayed response from my youngest child would have me whipping the car to the side of the road to grab the oxygen to help him out of whatever was allowing him not to respond. A child laying still on the floor at church would have me rushing towards him to help open his airway. 

Any moment that I was remotely close to what I experienced, would trigger a memory from the past two years and have my blood pumping and me up and moving. 

I can not tell you how many times I check on my youngest throughout the night to make sure he is breathing. It doesn't even tax me to wake up to go do this.  

I have shaken him awake in the car thinking something was wrong with him only to have him look at me like ... Um, hello..what are you doing? ...Sleeping here. . My bad bro, go back to sleep.

It has lessened over the past few months, not for lack of anxiety on my part but for realizing that if something is wrong with my child or someone else, that I probably won't be able to stop it anyways. 

I remember when I was brought home by the police in 8th grade for sneaking out to meet boys in the middle of the night. Yes, so lame. My friend that I did this with is now a pastor so, let's cut the middle school kids some slack. Like, totally ground them but don't count them out.

For months after, I would immediately have that sinking feeling everytime I saw police lights thus transporting me back to that night in 1995 where I thought for sure, my life was over. 

Little did I know , that is probably a common reaction to police lights. So you can relate a little, okay? It freaks you out! 

This happens with any of these triggers that put me back into the two years of trying to keep my oldest son alive. Hospitals, Funerals, Pain Medications, Seizures, seeing the word seizures, Hospice, G Tubes, All therapies, Kids laying on the ground in unusual circumstances, weird long gazes, someone being slow to respond to a question, blue lips, hands in any type of contorted shaped, etc... The list is so long and each dimension of each word has its own catalog of memories that I was either too busy to recall until now or didn't realize that actually happened until I see it playing over in my mind. 

This is not debilitating but it is something I am trying to work through. Something I try to not let control me. But sometimes I just give into it and remember. Sometimes remembering the reality of what we went through makes it more real. 

It is pretty easy to pretend like it didn't happen, for a little while. Then the enormity of the fact that my oldest son is not breathing on earth anymore crushes me with more weight than I think my body can physically push back against. 

It doesn't get easier to realize that he isn't here but I know that one day, I will be with him again. And that does provide comfort. I love this quote from John Piper, "Your misery, in the path of obedience, is producing a peculiar glory." I feel like that is a gut check quote. Be miserable, feel it but be obedient . Make this misery matter. Make it about God and not all the things that I feel. 

I am trying so hard to do this. I am trying to learn to live it with and make it purposeful and not be overwhelmed with him being gone. Though, some days it is all just too much and I check out of the world for a few days. I watch Netflix, I eat ice cream and I just allow myself to be sad. Then I pull it together, put it on the shelf and try to deal with all the grief that comes my way during each day. I seriously sing, Shane & Shane's song, in my head when I get to this point,

"Though You slay me, yet I will praise You
Though You take from me, I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me, still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need"

We sang this song at his funeral. I love the song and the words and the way it makes me feel. This is also one of those deep triggers, I cannot listen to this song without crying out to God in my pain but it's one of those memories that I need to remember it was all real. 

So please excuse me if I rush towards your child on the playground to start CPR if they are just playing hide and seek. It's just me. The crazy mom that is just trying to get through each day without reacting to every trigger of loss around her. And to my sweet sisters in loss, I'm here pushing through with you. 

Watch Though You Slay Me by Shane and Shane

 

Controlled

I buckled into 6D and looked up long enough to see the tween pilot settle into the cockpit. Gripping fear overcame my body and caused a nervous twitch in my eye and popping of my knuckles. The reality of releasing my life expectancy to a teenaged pilot was more than I could handle. I began looking back to see if anyone else was alarmed by this presentation of our commander in navigation. I was ready to stand up and vote in a new leader but no one else seemed to share in my concern. How could they be missing this and how am I freaking out over this?

My destination was Lakeside Writing Retreat, window of heaven. 6 inches of snow, Thank you Jesus. 

My destination was Lakeside Writing Retreat, window of heaven. 6 inches of snow, Thank you Jesus. 

The truth is I hate flying. I hate driving. I hate riding. I basically hate all things that I feel out of control in. I like running, walking and sitting.

Ferris wheels, rollercoasters, jet skis and boats, all things that have the ability to propel me further in space without my control of speed and safety. 

Control issues, I’ve got them. I’ve known such since I was 5 years old and refused to play cashier when it is was my turn to go shopping. I wanted to control the cash register. Forget the rest. 

As I realize that no one else is going to overthrow our pilot, I breathe in and out and close my eyes. I try and focus on the Lord and his promise to always comfort us in our weakness. Where does my weakness come from? 

I realize that the last time I was on a plane was three weeks after my oldest son was being transferred to a hospital in Memphis by Pediaflight while in a coma. 

The day was dark and rainy, which adds to the anxiety one has while entering one of these things that propel you further in space. The disillusionment that control can offer is completely shattered with the pretense of slippery runways and possible sliding off embankments into a river or highway. 

I held my left hand on my son’s chest and my right hand gripped the respiratory therapist that sat next to us both. The plane was literally the smallest one in the field because this was not the real airport but a sideshow that fronted as a host for toy planes and photo ops. Surely, this was not the actual emergency plane that would take us across the next four states. It was. I gripped the therapist's hand with all the life that was left in me. If for some reason we crashed, I could fashion him into a parachute or life preserver if we landed in a lake.

I was a wreck. My hand would stay on my son's chest as a marker on whether he was breathing or not because I did not trust all the wires hooked up to him operating not from batteries manufactured in the Zack Morris cellphone age. Control, once again, rears its obsessive ways. How could I trust anyone or anything at this point? 

The need to feel like you are in control is the absolute worst kind of torture. You think you are actually making the good in your life happen or keeping away the bad but that is a lie. This would be something I would wrestle with all through my son’s illness and continually fail at surrendering to the Lord. 

Today, getting on this plane, I am face first in the reality that I still have not released these things. I am still trying to battle on my own, the very first thing that was revealed to me through my journey with losing my son. We are not in control.

Control or the idea of it has to be one of the enemies strongest weapons. It is the pretense that exists if you can manipulate the time that you have to where you think you are safe or free from harm. 

Ya’ll, we are always in harms way. At every moment, of every day, anything could happen. Truthfully, the safety we feel is false. The only way to be free of fear is to surrender it to God. This is something that I have to do over and over and over and over again. I know that if the worst happens to me that I will be with the Lord no matter what. But it is something that I have to fight for each time.

Heaven or Earth, he is with us. 

Does that scare you? It used to scare me so much that I would do everything possible to avoid doing the things that I felt could increase this possibility. I would avoid trips, vacations and make excuses to avoid dealing with the fact that I had an out of control fear of death. 

We have to develop anchors in our daily conversation with God to deal with the fear or anxiety that we feel throughout the day. I have to tell myself over and over that just because I feel something or fear something doesn’t mean that I have to allow that feeling to take up residence in my heart. Isaiah 41:10says, “ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed , for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God says that we are not to be afraid or fear lack of control because he is with us. He will give us strength. 

What more do we actually need on earth than God’s strength?

Back in 6D, sitting in my seat of the plane waiting for the end of my world to ensue, it only took a small whisper of He is with me, do not be afraid. I said it over and over to myself, quietly so that I wasn’t removed from the plane as the crazy lady chanting to herself. My fear and all the things that I noticed that led me to my initial feelings of fear and lack of control are all still physically present but my acceptance of it as my truth is different. I realized that the only thing that separates me from my fear is perception of it. 

I have to draw my strength from God’s. I have to draw my reality from his promise to uphold me. In Joshua, God tells him to be strong and courageous and not to fear because the Lord is with us always. 

I will forever remember that Walker learned this verse in church before he got sick. I can close my eyes and see him standing there with his three year old arms stretched out wide and a grin on his face sweetly singing, “ I am with you always.” I cherish those moments because the fleeting memories are all I have left of him. 

I don’t remember the moments that I successfully controlled all facets of our days without fault. I don’t remember the victorious days of staying safe and sound. 

I do remember letting go and trusting God. I am with you always. 

And so I do. I turn on my phone and put in my headphones and use this moment to drown out all the fear and anxiety that presents itself. All sons and daughters , God with us blasts out my thoughts and I feel peace. We take off and land and take off and land and I am still here.