It's normal for me. Growing up with several profoundly mentally and physically disabled family members, one biologically, the rest through the ministry of fostering and adoption.
Life taught me long ago that what is seen is not all that exists. When I see those I love, I see hidden warriors of God. Hidden by inability to speak and walk and hear and see and care for their own very basic of needs. But the confidence supersedes that which is seen and I know that I know, there is an epic story going on their lives, waiting to be revealed in heaven's splendor. Crooked bodies made straightened, unfocused eyes shining brilliantly, words finally uttered that cause us break into shouts of laughter and victorious tears in the same heartbeat. And an understanding to the astounding purpose of their weakness, shown to be great in the light of God's glory.
This I know.
This I believe with all my heart.
My children are not at this place yet.
They see as is. They think concretely. Abstract reasoning is beyond them and so is the grasp of that which is unseen.
So a Mama's intercession has lifted up the week we are in, in the weeks leading up. Respite care and a question of how my children might respond. How they might be impacted. Their tender hearts taking it in.
Bubbles immediately grew concern that groans were cries. "Help him Mama. He sad." The the day-to-day care became his mission of help. Assisting with the liquid meals, overseeing the transfers from wheelchair to bed or van, and tucking into bed. And of course two year old fascination with helping push a wheelchair!
Miragirl, with her initial lack of compassion that she sometimes exhibits when something overwhelms her, expressed five year old frustration at the "turned off brain" and feeble limbs which resulted in the lack of a playmate. "I thought I was going to be able to play with him!" Then, total ignoring.
Glad she could express her thoughts bluntly but yes, slightly worried at her lack of emotional empathy and wondering what this meant for Shiloh, prayers rose up again. "Father of us all, touch her heart concerning this, exactly where You long for her to be touched in light of her calling too, to Shiloh."
Forty-eight hours later, on the couch, her favorite movie in, but not watching. Instead, watching this cousin of hers, processing deeply in heart and mind.
It burst out of the silence.
"Mom, why, would God make him like this!? Why? It's mean!"
Followed up with,
"He can never be married or be a Daddy can he?"
"No Babygirl, he can't."
Filling eyes, lips trembling, and the reply of, "But Mommy. . . that is so sad."
Twelve hours and three conversations later, more conversations have taken place concerning heaven and the need for a Redeemer and the beauty of True Love, than in her entire 5 1/2 years.
We've covered ground on:
How a heart that looks like it knows nothing, knows everything. Because a heart, even a hidden one, knows love when love is given. And true love transcends a broken mind. Hearts receive even when minds can't comprehend.
How a weak life that seems of no value is created divinely and sovereignly and someday, when we get to heaven, we will see the purpose this life had for all of eternity. That this wheelchair bound body had some role that could only fulfilled in this destiny. And someday, when we see him in his healed state, we are going to fall on our knees in amazement at what it all wrought.
The promise of our Redeemer who will make all broken things new. How desperately we all need Him! For broken bodies and broken hearts alike. Because what the world sees in my cousin, God sees in my heart. I'm just as crippled and incapable, perhaps even more so because I exist within the trap of thinking it's up to me, which chases me further from the One who sustains me and keeps my helplessly bound beyond my ability.
The awe of eternity, where this ultimate healing will take place.
What will the healing look like? Who will our warrior cousin be up there? When we fall down in worship at the feet of the Creator of us both, who will be falling beside me? What will the glorified body that replaces this crippled one look like. More than that, what will he have to tell us. What was stored in his heart all these years on earth that he can finally share? What did he see in the unseen, as we remained unaware, even as we cared for him?
Suddenly the heart of my daughter, that has not been able to bear the thought of the unseen as it seems frightening, is becoming excited about the ultimate realization it holds. She's beginning to grasp that the best is yet to come. That the beauty here is but a dim reflection of the splendor that awaits.
And sometimes it isn't beauty here. Not for those who's souls can't see. I saw it in the eyes of some yesterday. Fear, discomfort, even repulsion. But, what once angered me, now moves my heart. Because they miss the unseen and in missing it they miss wonder that goes beyond this daily life. They miss the gift that comes from looking past the ordinary and seeing the intricate design within. The design without which the tapestry of the Epic story can not be complete.
As I wrote one of my best friends this morning, in an email:
I'm in a "deep" place spiritually here these 9 days, processing that this is our future. That I may always be changing diapers and doing bed baths and lifting grown bodies. . . and that our bio children will be a part of us, our family, stared at in the store because of who we have with us and how it attracts curiosity and even at times, also disgust.
The weight of the "cost" of our calling --- loving the unloveable by world standards -- is realistic and pressing heavily upon me. Three days in, my body feels it, and I'm as exhausted as I ever was with a newborn, because of the required night time awareness (seizures) as well as daytime tasks. And yet, I simply can not, NOT see us continuing down this path.
This week is a great litmus test. Are we sure? Am I positive?
I see the Y in the road. I can walk away from this week deciding this isn't the life for me. It's as clear before me as other life-changing decisions have been in my life. There are two choices before me.
It's a lifetime commitment on so many levels -- emotionally and mentally, financially, physically, and even relationally. I can't ignore the reality. I can't ignore the price. I can raise my two miracles, send them off into the world, and enter my later years with my best friend, enjoying the simple life. Or I can continue in obedience down this path, knowing my last years will be filled with the labor of love to care for those we have chosen to make ours.
I sense God telling me the choice is mine --- ours --- to make. That we truly do have a choice in the matter. And I wondered for another hour round of doubting, if perhaps I should walk the other way. But then, I couldn't imagine living a life not pouring out into this. I just can't.
I know this is who we are to be, even as I process through the cost it requires. And I know that He who calls us, is faithful to provide all we need to heed the call. He won't call us only to abandon us to our own. Instead, He will enable as he helps us carry the weight of what obedience requires.
Loving the least of these. Getting a front row seat to weakness that shames the mighty.
That is His heart.
And I want it to be mine, for the very fact that it is His.
I can imagine no other life.