Someone asked me today ‘do you have regrets?’ this came from an email conversation with a woman I met online through the blog. Her question was asked in innocence and a genuine desire to seek knowledge from me about our choices as parents, or more specifically about Josh. It strikes me that I should have been annoyed by the question, and just a few short years ago I would have been. Instead I sat down and looked at our lives together as a family.
I see Josh, all smiles and love, hopeful eyes, and dreams of playing soccer (and though I was banking on hockey; I did once promise myself I wouldn’t try to force my dreams of him playing for the Leafs )one day -when he isn’t tired from running. He is laughter, pure joy, and he’s warmth. Hearing I love you from him is a special gift, not because he doesn’t love us, but because it’s taken him so long to learn and understand language enough to say it with meaning. Do I have regrets? Not once.
Before Tim and I were married the plan was to wait a year before trying to have kids, but shortly after deciding on that we both felt God was very clearly changing our minds. We decided that we wouldn’t try but that we wouldn’t do anything to stop it from happening, and if God wanted us to have a child then we would count ourselves blessed. Time after time we were told to abort Joshua, and time and time again the verses in Joshua chapter one came to my mind, be strong and courageous and I will go with you wherever you go and then another from Mathew that read, with man this is impossible but with God all things are possible. Always I was reminded that a mustard seed could move a mountain with enough faith… so we believed. I built the nursery that people feared would be my undoing when we had to pack it up with no child to sleep in the crib. Instead, God brought Joshua into our lives and through his life I have been given a greater understanding of God, of suffering, of life, of love and joy and laughter.
Do I sometimes wish that this wasn’t happening to us, that Josh was healthy, that he would talk with me like other kids talk with their parents? I would be lying if I said no, but deep in my heart I believe that all of this, all the pain, all the suffering, all the fear and worry are growing us stronger as a family. I have seen it healing us, yes, healing us. I have seen my prayers grow more mature, my faith becoming unshakable, my hope more secure in the cross and the victory he provided for us there. I regret some things, in my earlier life choices, in how I handled some situations when I couldn’t get a handle on my emotions, but most things, the things that matter, I can say that even if I didn’t think it was the right decision, it was a decision that has made me who I am today, stronger, more hopeful, wiser. How can I regret that?
Joshua’s life itself, though only five years to date, has been a blessing to many. His struggles have brought communities together, made believers out of non believers and encouraged so many who were dealing with suffering. He clearly has a purpose, one predestined by God, and God is keeping watch over him, delivering him, holding him, shaping him and all that that does for me is convince me that we did the only thing we could do. Give him as good a life as we can for as long we can.
I understand the question, I am not annoyed by it now as I would have been then. Though I never entertained the thought of abortion for either child (we were advised to abort Kaleb too). My whole family is a gift, but when you first hear a doctor announce that the child in your womb is not ‘whole’ or ‘broken’ or ‘very sick’ and then a long list of dire circumstances are given on his/her outcome, I think it normal to seek answers to these questions. Until you have a child of your own you can’t fully comprehend what life was like without them and you certainly have no idea how much you will love them, it’s not something you can ever understand until it happens to you. Creating a child, sick or health, is a miracle, many are not able to have children and knowing this just ads to our knowledge that these children truly are miracles; our job is to love them and do what we can to help them, to raise them and hold their hands through all the scary things they will face as they grow up. It doesn’t end at 18 or 21 or even 50. My own parents have been rocks through the many surgeries that Josh has undergone, they stood beside us, prayed with us, held our hands and came racing through winter blizzards to get to us when we needed them.
No one can guess what life has around the corner for us, we could be eating lunch in a mall and get shot, we could be running in a marathon and be blown up, we could be sitting in a classroom when a kid walks in and starts shooting randomly. Joshua’s heart problems are no bigger, and no less than any of those things, they have just come to him at a very young age. I would willingly put my heart on that table if it would help. I would offer him my own heart if I could but sadly this is a journey he has to face, and all we can do is love him through out. We have to give him a life of fun and laughter that he can remember when the pain is too much.
I know that suffering is a huge topic, so many people are suffering in the world and by comparison to many my life is nothing to complain about. There are no answers, not even easy ones, on how best to cope with suffering and I don’t seek to answer any here. Here you can only find compassion, hope, and hopefully you will travel this blog and see God’s face, that you will see how he moves and breathes in our lives, in our joy and in our pain. Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions… all are valid, all are welcome here. We travel this life together, and without community we are alone, and no man or woman should be alone (God said that, not me but I live by it).