when Josh was born there was both celebration at the birth of our first child, and the first Grandchild in the family, the first nephew, the first boy on our side since my Dad. Along with that joy though there was also grief, that he was born with such struggle, that he was so ill, that he was born with so many unknowns. We all struggled with trying to deal and understand what his birth meant for our family. We all walked through a journey of questions and we all wanted answers, control, some semblance of normalcy. We would sit beside his bed in the CCCU and wondered what would happen next. Everytime the doctors came by for rounds we had hundreds of questions, and not one doctor could give concrete answers. Tim and I had to learn not just how to be parents to a new born baby boy but how to take care of such an ill child, how to love a child who may or may not live through the weeks ahead. We questioned God’s sovereignty, we questioned the where God’s love came from, where his plan was taking us.
I listened to people say ‘I’m sorry’ and in my heart I grew angry, because I wanted people to celebrate his birth, celebrate his life. I selfishly only centered on my own pain, my own hurt and worry and I was angry because I wanted more from the people around me. I wanted, needed, to feel what every new mother feels when they hold their baby for the first time. Instead I sat for hours in my room alone every night, my son in the hospital across the street fighting for his life. As the days and weeks progressed I found ways to suppress my frustrations, my emotions and my anger, and I learned how to love my son the best way that I knew how in that moment. The first time I held my baby (two weeks after his birth) I cried because it was that moment that I knew I would never be the same, I was forever changed. He was something I had been missing without even knowing it, he was a part of the love that Tim and I share and now that he was here our lives would never be the same again. Even if we lost him, even if we knew him for only days.
I talk a lot about Josh in this Blog, it’s both a testament to the love that I have for him and the hope that I have for him, and it’s also a way to work through the struggles I have faced, the feelings I have found myself sorting through in regards to his life and his illness. I have for a long time held onto some of the anger and frustrations surrounding his birth, and it’s time to let it go. It wasn’t what I would have wanted, it wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t what I felt I deserved, and yet as I look at this little one who we now know so well I have to seriously ask myself… what did I deserve? What does that mean? As I sit here contemplating advent I find myself needing to apologize for my selfish refusal to see others pain, to see that Josh’s illness grieved others as well. He is my son yes, but he’s loved by many. He is not mine, he is God’s and he was born into a community which means he is loved by them, which means that they too grieve him. They each dealt with that grief differently, and sometimes that seemed hurtful to me, but ultimately this is not about me is it? This is about Josh, and my anger, though repressed is uncalled for, and it’s time to let go and allow the Spirit to free me of it’s hold. It’s time to ask for forgiveness, and it’s time for me to forgive.
Josh has taught me about love, he has taught me about hope, prayers, faith, and he has taught me about joy. He has given me courage and taught me strength, and as I look at his precious face this advent season I have to admit that he is so much more than I ever ‘deserved’, he was an answered prayer before he was even born. He’s not something I should feel regret over what didn’t happen at his birth, he’s not something I should be angry about. He is a beautiful, happy little boy who has taught a lot of people about appreciating life. His life has answered prayers I asked years before I knew Tim, let alone Joshua.
I prayed once for God to bring me closer to him, for God to reveal his love for me. His answer was to give me the gift of Joshua. Joshua’s life, and yes even his suffering has taught me about the unconditional love of God, and his life has brought me so much closer to God. My prayers for miracles, for healing, are being answered not in a direct way, not the way I had wanted, but with each step towards healing that Joshua makes I am realizing that sometimes God says’ wait, but always he answers. Is it possible that in all my thoughts of what I thought I wanted were wrong?
I think of Mary, when she was expecting and anticipating the birth of Christ and I wonder what she thought, I wonder how she felt. The birth of Jesus was not I am sure what she had thought it would be. I am sure she imagined she would marry Joseph, love him the way a wife does, and give him a son born in wedlock, celebrated and loved. Did she expect him to be born in a stable, with her fiance at her side, having never shown his her physical love? Did she lament her situation? No, she bore him with joy, with hope and expectation and faith. As we move through the advent, as we prepare our hearts for Christ I am awed that God saw me fit to mother children as special as Joshua and Kaleb. That he saw me as suitable to parent them and that he has given me the strength I needed, the courage I needed and the faith I needed to love these extraordinary children.
As I continue to move through the process of loving these kids, and dealing with the past and the feelings I have left hidden I am sure of one thing now more than ever. I would not change a thing. I would not make Joshua or Kaleb any different, even with their separate struggles, I wouldn’t change the journey we have been on, I would only change my response to the situation.
For those who have felt my anger, my frustrations, for those who have felt my unforgiving spirit I pray now that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I pray that you will know my heart longs for wholeness and will continue to seek it. I pray that you know that I forgive you, and that I seek your forgiveness.