I remember this day well. Our son, Troy, had an extreme form of Marfan’s syndrome. One way that it manifested was in hypotonia, in other words, extreme weakness in all soft tissue including muscles. But this day, he was able to lift his head up while lying on my husband’s chest. We were so happy and excited to finally be seeing some progress. Sadly, that excitement would give way to sorrow a few short weeks later as his little heart was not strong enough to keep him going. It’s been 20 years since that summer when we lost our little Troy-boy. I’ll always hold his memory in my heart and long to be reunited with him.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”
Let’s be honest, don’t you just hate this verse? Doesn’t it make you clench your teeth when someone throws this one out in an effort to comfort you (and someone always will). I’ve had to listen to this verse so many times over the years. I smile and say “Thanks” because at the core, I know the person is truly sincere in wanting to help me. I can’t possible expect them to understand what that verse means to me.
But at some point through the long years, things happen. The pain starts to shift around in your brain and a softness creeps in. Edges aren’t quite so sharp after a while and memories become more like favorite dog-eared photographs that you can pull out and linger over. And now the darkness inside is more grays than deep blacks and light peeks through the cracks that He has gently set in place.
I have learned a thing or two over the past 20 years. I have learned the meaning of this verse. God puts all things into our lives. The good, the bad and the ugly things. He places events in our lives for His purposes and then He holds our hands, carries our limp grieving bodies, and pushes us to the next level. When we look back, we can see not only His footprints (as that great old poem goes), but we can see our drag marks gradually return to solid footprints again. We can see how we have changed – hardened in some ways and stripped bare in others ways. And always, always God has been there for me.
Have you ever read that romantic classic, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte? Yes, I am a hopeless romantic and that book will always be my favorite. But my favorite quote from that book is not the one you might think. It was something that struck me when I first read it as a teen and so many years later I still resonate to its truth.
Yes, the things that we go through, the dreams we live through “alter the color of our mind” and we will never be the same again. I have thought of that line at each time of crises in my life. But what I can say, from the bottom of my heart, is that each crises did two things to me. It made me stronger and helped me to believe in myself. But, most importantly, each crises played an important role in forging my relationship with God. I’ve been repeatedly forced to redefine my feelings towards God which have ranged from turning my back on Him in anger, full rejection of Him and finally, to full acceptance of His sovereignty and grace.
In the words of Jerry Garcia, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”. Though I haven’t been too thrilled with a lot of the things that have happened to me, I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Now, that is not an easy statement to make. Let me assure you that my fingers hovered over the keyboard for a while before typing that. Maybe, I can clarify it. There are things that I wish hadn’t happened, decisions that I wish I hadn’t made, babies I wish I hadn’t fallen in love with. I swear, sometimes I think that it is nothing more than bandaids that hold my broken heart together. But then I realize that there aren’t enough bandaids in the world for that. And that is the start of acknowledging that there is something much stronger in this world and His name is Wonderful, Everlasting, Holy One. He is my Savior and He saves me from myself.
He has worked all things together for good. I don’t always see it at the time but I have hit that age where I can appreciate what a blessing hindsight is. And I can see what some of those “good” things are.
He has made words like “trust” and “follow Me” come alive.
He has allowed me to experience joy that is so much sweeter because of sorrow.
He has taught me love in all things.
Walk in love, as Christ loved us…